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Zoo's Then and Now

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Ann Littlewood, 7 Aug 2009.

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  1. Ann Littlewood

    Ann Littlewood Well-Known Member

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    I've blogged about my perspective on zoos when I was a keeper, back when the earth was still cooling, and zoos today. It's long, so I'm not copying it here. Please leave a comment with your perspective!

    Ann Littlewood Zoo Mysteries

    PS This is the first thread I've started. Let me know if I'm not doing it right!
     
  2. PAT

    PAT Well-Known Member

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    It was good reading. I like seeing other peoples point of view and you did do it right. :)
     
  3. Ara

    Ara Well-Known Member

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    A very interesting read, Ann.
    It's always good to read the thoughts of someone who actually works (or worked) as a zookeeper, rather than the ramblings of people who are just zoo nerds like myself.

    I've been around long enough to recognise the changes in zoos which you point out. My local zoo (Taronga, here in Sydney) was notorious many years ago for being severely utilitarian in its enclosures. Everything was designed for strict cleanliness - not a bad thing in itself, but taken to extremes when you saw, for instance, Sitatunga (a swamp dweller) kept on concrete. Nowadays the enclosures are much more natural, but the animal collection is much more limited.

    Taronga was well known for unrestricted animal breeding - common species like blackbuck and kangaroos bred up to herds 100 strong in a very restricted area and the place had at least a dozen of each type of big cat.

    Keepers were regarded as the equivalent of stable hands, and were hired and dismissed as needed. Some senior, long-term keepers were very skilled and knowledgeable and with little formal education almost worked by instinct when animals were ill or needed help.

    Today's zoos are interesting places, but still far from perfect. There seems to be more emphasis today on keeping what are known as "charismatic megafauna", the big flashy animals, and, here in Australia at least, not much room for smaller exotics (due in large part to our government's reluctance to sanction the importation of animals likely to compete successfully against our native species if accidentally released.)
     
  4. Ann Littlewood

    Ann Littlewood Well-Known Member

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    Zoos then and now

    Very interesting to hear the parallels with US zoos. I actually think there is more attention here now to smaller, less flamboyant species due to the focus on conservation. Not universally true, perhaps, just an impression. Thanks for your comment.