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A rose by any other name. Does "zoo" imply menagerie?

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Zygodactyl, 1 Dec 2016.

  1. Zygodactyl

    Zygodactyl Well-Known Member

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    I know that most visitors to zoos get most excited about large mammals. However since joining ZooChat I've seen a number of Zoochatters say things like "it's got a pretty nice collection but it needs a keynote exhibit, fortunately they're getting [large mammal] soon. I've noticed that Anthony Sheridan excludes aquaria and bird parks, but not safari parks, from his definition of "zoo" (to my mind I can see excluding aquaria and can see excluding bird parks and safari parks, but safari parks by the nature of their layout are less zoo-like than bird parks or aquaria in my mind.

    I've also noticed that two exhibits in Texas--the Dallas World Aquarium and Moody Gardens--which have extensive exhibits of land animals but no large land mammals--avoid the term "zoo" in their name. I didn't know about the DWA and Moody Gardens because they don't use "zoo" in their name and don't offer reciprocity until I started posting here. And at least with DWA it seems to be tailor-made for me. On the other hand, I'm weird, and I did start posting here. In the case of these two establishments it's a good way to differentiate themselves from the Dallas and Houston Zoos, and I imagine visitors will be less upset that they didn't see giraffes at an "aquarium" or a "garden" than that that didn't see them at a "zoo."

    Would you guys say that the colloquial definition of "zoo"--the term as people use it--implies large mammals, and that most visitors will judge any establishment identified as a "zoo" on those terms? And if so, does it make sense for collections without large land mammals to call themselves by names other than "zoo"?

    And are there any specific animals that you think visitors would be very upset not to see at an "aquarium," a "bird parks" or "aviary," a "garden," or a "nature center" (to name some examples of non-zoo zoological facilities)? I feel like the absence of sharks and coral reef exhibits, parrots, butterflies, and birds of prey would draw complaint at aquaria, bird parks/aviaries, gardens, and nature centers, but those are still considerably lower base expectations than a proper zoo needing to have large hoofstock, big cats, and great apes.
     
  2. overread

    overread Well-Known Member

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    Zoo certainly has preconceptions attached to the title. Both positive and negative.

    There are many wildlife centres where cages and enclosures can be as big or smaller than at big zoos, but the zoo will often be seen in the negative more than the wildlife centre (that the wildlife centre is often seen as the poorer-underdog compared to the big and clearly super rich zoo - can be part of that).


    Any word we use has preconceptions attached to it; and for the casual tourist those preconceptions are what drives their thinking even if most do not even realise it. Many will want to go to the zoo to see a big animal like a lion or a tiger (predators tend to get favour over prey) and it will be one of their prime focuses.
    They are big impressive animals; they are marketed as such and about in our daily lives; they are the lion king; they are what people want to see.


    So yes zoos have to consider that if they want people through the door they've got to pander to those preconceptions or change them. Change is hard because that means marketing - mass marketing - and for most zoos that's beyond their finances to undertake. They can't fund a new "Finding Nemo" level film of their own.


    You see this in other markets too; look at computer games. Most people know of Call of Duty and what it is even if you're not into computer games. It's big because it sold well; but it also sold well because it marketed itself like crazy (more spend on marketing than on the development itself). It thus setup a preconception and line of thinking in peoples minds to become the thing that many people want. Apple with their iTunes and iPads and iPods did exactly the same thing; there was competition in all those markets yet they rose to dominate each one through marketing and defining those preconceptions and desires. They made people aspire to wanting an iPad.


    Zoos would have to do the same to make people WANT to see other things - to make other species the big WOW factor.
     
  3. gentle lemur

    gentle lemur Well-Known Member

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    No.

    'Pharmacist' does not imply 'apothecary'
    'Kalashnikov' does not imply 'matchlock'
    'Scalpel' does not imply 'hand axe'.

    I think the appropriate verb is supersede.
     
  4. Hix

    Hix Wildlife Enthusiast and Lover of Islands Premium Member

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    The word zoo is an abbreviation of zoological gardens (or zoological collection), but our understanding of the word changes over time and probably with location. In Australia the general rule appears to be that a zoo holds exotic species - if you only hold natives then you're a fauna park, a wildlife park, or a sanctuary.

    But agree, these days the focus of the word zoo is on large mammals, although I think most people visiting a zoo would be disappointed if there weren't snakes on display to scare them.

    Some facilities I would suggest are trying to distance themselves from the word zoo because the connotations of the word have for long time meant bars and cages where animals were kept for entertainment only, and not necessarily with the animals best interest in mind. Hence some zoos changing their names to wildlife park, conservation centre and the like. And 50 years ago collections that specialised in birds or reptiles only were virtually unheard of. Aquaria were popular but because of their infrastructure were very different to a traditional zoo and everyone knew what an aquarium was.

    To my mind, for what it's worth, all the different names and varieties of wildlife collections today are all zoos, but some are specialists. Or, to use a taxonomic analogy: the Zoo is the species; bird parks, ape parks, aquaria, native sanctuaries, rehabilitation facilities are all different subspecies, and the traditional zoo as we know it is the nominate.

    :p

    Hix
     
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  5. Zygodactyl

    Zygodactyl Well-Known Member

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    In the US "nature center" definitely has an implication of native species too. However whereas in Australia and New Zealand nature centers seem to breed endangered native animals, in the US--at least with birds and mammals--they usually only have rehabilitated, unreleaseable wildlife. I feel like I remember some nature centers being involved in breeding endangered salamanders, however at least in the Northeast nature centers tend to focus on birds of prey, since those are some of our most charismatic native species.
     
  6. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Regarding the title of this thread: "Does zoo imply menagerie ?" :-

    I realise that I am in the minority here but I have no objections whatsoever to the word "menagerie" and do not consider it a derogatory term.

    The dictionary definition of "menagerie" is "a collection of wild animals kept for exhibition purposes". It follows, therefore, that the words "zoo" and "menagerie" are synonymous.

    (And I remember when animals born at London Zoo used to have the words "born in the menagerie" written on the label.)
     
  7. Dassie rat

    Dassie rat Well-Known Member

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    Paris has a 'menagerie' in the Jardin des Plantes and a 'zoo' in Vincennes.
     
  8. Zygodactyl

    Zygodactyl Well-Known Member

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    I don't think of menagerie as being derogatory, but I do think of it as implying large mammals.
     
  9. Kakapo

    Kakapo Well-Known Member

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    A zoo is a collection of alive animals. No matter if they're mammals, fishes or insects, or if they're terrestrial or aquatics. Aquariums must be fully considered zoos, as well as bird parks, crocodile farms (as far as they have various species) and butterfly gardens. The only thing about I'm unsure is if a private animal collection can be considered a zoo.
    Menagerie don't imply large mammals. I have been in Paris Menagerie du Jardin des Plantes that lacks elephants and giraffes and have crabs and skinks.
    I see that most "normal" people (I mean non zoo enthusiasts) tend to consider big mammals and maybe some birds as the "only animals". While zoo enthusiasts, like most zoochatters, find equally interesting rare or amazing species of smaller animals than larger ones. I find a plains zebra absolutely boring and unnecessary, but I would love to see a mountain gorilla or a Dall's sheep. While I'm absolutely uninterested in see, for example, the shrimp Lysmata amboinensis, bit I would die for see a phoronid sea worm. Resuming, it's not all about size or mammalian being, but also about rarity (in the wild and/or in collections) and strange features (colour, shape, size, biological mysteries, etc).