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The ten people that have most influenced the development of the modern zoo

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Carl Jones, 13 Jul 2018.

  1. Carl Jones

    Carl Jones Well-Known Member

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    The ten people who have most influenced the development of the modern zoo. Zoos have developed from the menageries of the 19th century, that were cabinets of living curiosities, to those of today that at their best fulfil roles in exhibition, education, science and conservation. Most readers on this forum would largely agree with a few I have selected, although there could be considerable debate over some of the others.

    There are inspirational zoo directors who showed the way forward, but also those from outside the zoo community who have influenced thinking. For example Jane Goodall, due to her work with chimpanzees, has changed the way we think about, and care for them in captivity. Virginia McKenna has been a huge influence upon zoos in the late 20th and early 21st centuries due to her anti-zoo sentiments. The organisations she helped found, Zoo Check and the Born Free Foundation, have contributed to driving up standards of zoo animal care.

    My top ten are:

    Carl Hagenbeck, an animal dealer turned zoo director who brought performing animals into the zoo and developed new techniques of exhibiting animals in naturally landscaped enclosures separated from the public by moats.

    Lutz and Heinz Heck, directors of Berlin and Munich zoos who pioneered the idea of back breeding old breeds of cattle to recreate the Auroch and the back breeding of horses to recreate the Tarpan. These back bred animals bear a superficial resemblance to the extinct species that are known as Heck Cattle and Heck Horses. Heinz Heck also established the first studbook for a wild animals when he set up a studbook for European Bison in 1923.

    William Temple Hornaday, the first director of the National Zoo and the Bronx Zoo, and a visionary conservationist who is best known for his efforts to save the American Bison by implementing perhaps the first ever conservation-driven reintroduction effort.

    Heini Hediger, director of Basel and Zurich zoos and universally accepted as the father of zoo biology who applied science to understanding the behaviour and needs of zoo animals and published important books on the care and behaviour of captive animals.

    Desmond Morris, author, broadcaster, zoologist and artist, a former curator of mammals at the London Zoo, who popularised zoos and zoo biology with his children’s programme Zoo Time (1956-1968). Morris is an ethologist by training and wrote many important papers on animal behaviour including some on zoochosis and how it may be avoided.

    John Aspinall, an unorthodox zoo owner, known for establishing captive populations of many endangered or challenging species, including gorillas. His philosophy often encouraged the close relationship between keeper and animal - sometimes with revolutionary success, sometimes with tragic results.

    Peter Scott, the greatest conservationist of the late 20th century and the founder of the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust. A pioneer of a specialist animal collection (wildfowl) with a focus upon conservation.

    David Hancocks, zoo director, architect and author of two influential books on zoos, with strident views on aesthetics and the quality of housing. Spearheaded the revolution within North American zoos, with emphasis on immersive exhibits that created contextual environments for both animal and visitor.

    Gerald Durrell, the author and naturalist who considered that the primary role of zoos should be conservation and they should establish self-sustaining captive populations of the most endangered species. He founded the Jersey Zoo which specialises is conservation and education and has its own training school to train people in zoo conservation.

    Others that could have made the list, if I was in a different mood: Jimmy Chipperfield for his work developing safari parks, Bill Conway the visionary director of the Bronx Zoo, Steve Martin from Natural Encounters, for his work developing bird shows and positive training techniques for managing zoo animals, and Steve Irwin a showman, herpetologist and zoo owner who advocated a hands on approach in his relationship with his animals, and of course there are many more that could be mentioned…..
     
    Last edited: 13 Jul 2018
  2. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    A fascinating subject and I agree with (most of ) your choices.
    I would also include Sir Peter Chalmers-Mitchell on the list. He was Secretary of the Zoological Society of London from 1903 to 1935, and the driving force behind creating Whipsnade Zoo.
    I would also have to add Lee S. Crandall, Curator of Bronx Zoo and author of the classic book The Management of Wild Mammals in Captivity (1964).
     
    Last edited: 13 Jul 2018
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  3. Theloderma

    Theloderma Active Member

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    An excellent idea! Need to go away and have a think about this although at first glance I think this list is pretty close to my own. Conway and Irwin are the 2 I'd like to see added but who to lose? The Hecks maybe...?
     
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  4. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    I would add more people except Hediger who brought such concepts as importance of animal brehaviour, environmental enrichment, proper social groups.

    Brother Heck role is controversial. They were certainly curators of the biggest zoo at their time, but their ideas on breeding-back turned unscientific. The European Bison Pedigree Book was a multi-person effort of European Wisent Conservation Society and prominent German and Polish scientists. Hecks actually threatened survival of European Bison by cross-breeding with American Bisons.

    John Aspinall - it is a tough question. I feel the zoo world has yet to awaken to his ideas, like close contact with animals and extremely high standards of husbandry, often freely using unnatural elements if animals like them. I suspect his influence will be more visible in zoos 20 years in future than now.
     
  5. Daktari JG

    Daktari JG Well-Known Member

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    Interesting idea. As a quibble, though I loved the dude, I can't imagine
    Steve Irwin's influence on modern zoos has been anything but minimal.
    I'm willing to consider it though.

    Who dreamed up the first "safari park"?
    and who dreamed up the first walk through exhibit?

    Those might be two strong contenders.
     
  6. reduakari

    reduakari Well-Known Member

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    Great list, but without including—near the top of the list—Bill Conway, it is seriously incomplete. Conway moved the needle on progressive exhibition and interpretation, scientific record keeping, cooperative animal management, conservation breeding, and zoo-based in situ conservation to a greater degree than anyone else before or since.
     
  7. Carl Jones

    Carl Jones Well-Known Member

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    Yes you are right. Bill Conway is definitely one of the top modern zoo directors, he should be in the top ten.

    What about some of the small population biologists that have so influenced how we manage our captive populations?
     
  8. zoomaniac

    zoomaniac Well-Known Member

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    First, I'm agree with most of the list. Very good choice imo.
    Although much more known for its work in protecting wildlife/nature, Bernhard Grzimek belongs to that list too (at least when putting Steve Irwin on it). And what about the man/men in Singapore who invented the modern concept of a Night Safari? Or Johan Burgers and Anton van Hoof at Burgers Zoo NL? Josef Vagner at Dvur Kralove, Czech Rep.? Or - from the newer ones - Alex Ruebel at Zoo Zurich?
     
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  9. lintworm

    lintworm Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

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    I wouldn't put Johan Burgers on such a list, on a national level he was important, but he hardly developed new ideas and was very much a Hagenbeck follower. I do however strongly agree with includig Antoon van Hooff. He revolutionized the husbandry of great apes and was a visionary who was the first to try to replicate natural ecosystems with the building of the rainforest and desert halls. It was his idea to create a huge living coral reef.
     
  10. Carl Jones

    Carl Jones Well-Known Member

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    There is a sub-text that is often under-appreciated, and that is that specialist animal collections contribute disproportionately to our knowledge about species and their care. This started with wildfowl collections, specialist bird collections, aquaria, reptile centres, primate centres, falconry centres. For example it is falconry techniques that have so influenced bird shows, that are such a feature of many zoos. Apenheul revolutionised primate care and exhibition, and Monkey World took primate rescue to a new level.
     
    Last edited: 14 Jul 2018
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  11. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, Bernhard Grzimek is defifintely worth including!
     
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  12. Mr. Zootycoon

    Mr. Zootycoon Well-Known Member

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    Although he may not belong in the final top 10, I think Wim Mager (founder of Apenheul) at least needs mentioning in this thread.
     
  13. tetrapod

    tetrapod Well-Known Member

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    From an Australian perspective David Fleay would surely have had more of a lasting impact on zoo development than Steve Irwin .Concentrating on keeping/breeding/displaying native spp. First person to breed platypus, koala, emu, frogmouth. Research + public talks within a zoo context. I have no time for the crocodile harasser (even his father was more of a pioneer...).
     
  14. FBBird

    FBBird Well-Known Member

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    I doubt he was the first person to breed Emu -- they were being bred in the UK in the 19th Century. But yes, all the other stuff!
     
  15. FBBird

    FBBird Well-Known Member

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    Jimmy Chipperfield invented the Safari Park, Philip Wayre coined the term 'Wildlife Park'
     
  16. FBBird

    FBBird Well-Known Member

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    First UK breeding of Emu was London Zoo in 1830; I find it hard to believe they weren't being bred in their native country before Fleay's time.
     
  17. Daktari JG

    Daktari JG Well-Known Member

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    LOL among other things this is what Wikipedia said about David Fleay:

    "He realised the importance of endangered species early in his career when, in 1933, he was the last person to photograph a captive thylacine or Tasmanian tiger at the Hobart Zoo. In the process he was bitten on the buttocks, the scar from the injury carried proudly throughout his life."
     
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  18. Carl Jones

    Carl Jones Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps the title of the thread should not have limited the people who shaped the modern zoo to ten. There are of course many who were a huge influence. In the first extended list I included Grzimeck, David Fleay and Philip Wayre. The latter two were founders of specialist facilities which have had a huge impact and continue to proliferate. Did Philip Wayre found the first wildlife park? Were there any predecessors in continental Europe?
     
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  19. tetrapod

    tetrapod Well-Known Member

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    Yes fair enough. I thought it was an odd stat too.
     
  20. tetrapod

    tetrapod Well-Known Member

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    Firstly this is a great thread. I have often wondered who the big influencers were in the zoo world. Maybe we need to look at different categories of influence. The pioneers of modern zoo (which include many of the names on your original list) and possibly another list of major (secondary?) influence (Fleay and Wayre would probably fall into this).
    Also what about people outside the West? Bernard Harrison for Singapore (first Night Safari)? What about Africa or South America? And any women who made a lasting mark?
     
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