Home School Life Journal

Home School Life Journal
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales
painting by Katie Bergenholtz

ZooLand, part 7: The History and Purposes of Zoos

Zoos primary purpose in the beginning were to entertain, showing off exotic animals. Menageries, as they used to be called, have been in existence since 3,500 BC.
In America, the Philadelphia Zoo opened its gates on July 1, 1874, after the opening being delayed by the Civil War. On opening day, flags flew, and a brass band welcomed more than 3,000 visitors. Admission was 25 cents for adults and 10 cents for children, a rate that held for the next half century. Visitors came on foot, on streetcars, by horse and carriage, and every 15 minutes by steamboat on the Schuylkill River, landing at the Zoo's own wharf. he Frank Furness Victorian gates and gatehouses, and the Zoo's location, are the same today as they were on the day it opened. 
New York's Central Park Zoo and Lincoln Park Zoo located in Chicago, Illinois were founded around this same time period.  Lincoln Park Commissioners were given a gift of a pair of swans by Central Park's Board of Commissioners in New York City. In 1874, the swans were joined by a bear cub, the first animal purchased for the zoo. The bear became quite adept at escaping from its home and could frequently be found roaming Lincoln Park at night.The first bison ever born in captivity was born in Lincoln Park. A new Lion House opened in 1912, followed by a Primate House in 1927. Marlin Perkins, who gained fame as the host of the television program Wild Kingdom, was director of the zoo from 1944 until 1962.


"Although the New York Zoological Society's goals have always been the same—to preserve wildlife and inspire New Yorkers and the nation to care for wildlife (the Bronx Zoo, for example, played a key role in reintroducing the American Bison in the early 1900s)—the city's zoos have evolved with the times as professionals have reevaluated how to best care for animals. Where some of the early zoos consisted of little more than cages full of exotic creatures, today's zookeepers spend much more time and effort balancing the dual mission of accommodating a curious public with the need to provide a healthy living environment for the animals."



During the 1970's the public's attention was turned to how the animals were being treated in zoos. The Wildlife Conservation Society and the American Zoo Association agreed to having wildlife conservation as their top priority. Zoos today focus on six things:
  1. Conservation: Protecting animals and providing for all of their needs.
  2. Breeding: With medical care, some animals are fairing better in zoos than in the wild.
  3. Re-population: helping to restore endangered species.
  4. Gene Pools: Zoos take blood samples of rare and almost extinct animals to be preserved in a global gene pool in the hope that one day the animals can be repopulated using the DNA collected today.
  5. Exploration: Most of us would never be able to see animals from around the world were it not for zoos.
  6. Education: Many zoo exhibits are created with this in mind.

Zoo Stories

As part of zoo's educational program, many zookeepers have shows or special times in which visitors can see the animals closer, sometimes even touching them. Sometimes, as part of these programs, the zookeepers will have created what is called a zoo story. This story is not fictional, but gives some true account of the behavior of the animal, and also included in the story is factual information about the animal. Often zookeepers will tell you the animal's name and how he got the name. Students can write their own fictional zoo stories about one or more of the animals they have chosen to study.
  • Give the animal a name, and tell how he got his name
  • Tell how your Zoo obtained the animal.
  • Tell something interesting your animal did at the zoo, based on the factual information you have learned about the animal.
  • Explain any unusual habits your animal may have, based on the factual information you have learned about the animal.
  • Tell about any problems the zoo keeper might have had with the animal.
  • If your animal is endangered, tell why.
  • Include any interesting facts about our animal.
  • If possible, tell what they eat in the wild vs. what they eat at the zoo.

1 comment:

  1. I learned a lot from this, I am really enjoying this series.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. It means so much.