ZOOS Why do we have zoos? What is their purpose? Do the benefits of zoos outweigh the problems? How does Healesville compare to Melbourne Zoo?
What is a zoo? • Definition: “A zoological garden, zoological park, menagerie, or zoo is a facility in which animals are confined within enclosures, displayed to the public, and in which they may also be bred.”
Different types of zoos • Traditional Zoo: Many zoos keep animals in enclosures that attempt to replicate their natural habitats, for the benefit of the animals and the visitors. They may have buildings for nocturnal animals, and special climate conditions for animals living in radical environments, such as penguins. Specially-designed enclosures for birds, insects, and reptiles have also been developed. Melbourne Zoo is a traditional zoo.
Different types of zoos • Open Range Zoos: Some zoos keep fewer animals in larger, outdoor enclosures, confining them with moats and fences, rather than in cages. Safari parks allow visitors to drive through them and come in close contact with the animals. Werribee Zoo is an open range zoo.
Different types of zoos • Public Aquarium: A publicaquarium is an aquatic zoo, housing living aquatic species for viewing. Most public aquaria feature tanks larger than those which could be kept by home aquarists. Melbourne Aquarium is a public aquarium.
Different types of zoos • Animal Theme Parks: An animal theme park is a combination of an amusement park and a zoo, mainly for entertaining and commercial purposes. Seaworld on the Gold Coast is an animal theme park.
What does a zoo do? • In Ancient Greece, over 2000 years ago, Alexander the Great collected exotic animals from around the world for his own personal menagerie. • In the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I opened a zoo to the public. During the 18th century, the price of admission was three half-pence, or the supply of a cat or dog for feeding to the lions!
What does a zoo do? • Today, the primary role of a zoo is to display wild animals for the conservation of endangered species, as well as for research purposes and education. The secondary role is for the entertainment of visitors.
Criticism of zoos • Some animal welfare agencies, such as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), disagree with the need for zoos. Some of their reasons are: • A lot of the money received from admissions does not go towards helping the animals. • People visit zoos for entertainment, not education. • Many species in zoos are not endangered, and do not require conservation. • Some animals in zoos are taken from their normal, healthy, wild habitats.
Criticism of zoos (continued) • Baby animals born in zoos are often sold, traded, loaned or bartered to other zoos around the world and never experience a real habitat. • Animals are prevented from exhibiting normal behaviour in their normal environment and this leads to abnormal and self-destructive behaviour known as “zoochosis.” • Zoos in poorer countries do not provide a high enough standard of existence for their animals. • Some animals escape or retaliate against their living conditions, and are punished for it.
Recent zoo tragedies • Tatiana, a Siberian tiger, escaped her substandard enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo in 2007 and was shot to death after she killed one person and injured two others; she had mauled one of the zookeepers a year earlier. • A gorilla named Jabari tried to escape from the Dallas Zoo by jumping over walls and moats and evading electrified wires, only to be fatally shot by police; a witness later reported that teenagers were taunting the animal with rocks prior to his escape. • In the summer of 2005, two polar bears died within five weeks of each other at the Saint Louis Zoo—Churchill died after ingesting an object that had been thrown into his exhibit, and Penny died from an infection as a result of having two dead foetuses in her uterus. • At the Virginia Zoo, 10 prairie dogs died when their tunnel collapsed, a rhinoceros drowned in the moat of her exhibit, and a zebra narrowly escaped death after jumping into the lion exhibit, while another lost her life when she bolted from a holding pen, struck a fence, and broke her neck.
Positives • PETA has acknowledged that many countries in Europe, America and Australasia, are greatly improving the standard of living for the animals in their zoos. Some animals, such as elephants and polar bears, are being returned to the wild, or sanctuaries, in their countries of origin. Many zoos are now conducting more useful and beneficial research and conservation practices.
Hey! I don’t want to live in a zoo! I want to live at Miss Hegarty’s house!
Your task: Design the Ultimate Zoo! • In pairs, design the ultimate zoo! • What sort of zoo will it be – traditional, open range, aquarium, animal theme park – or a mix of all four? • What special facilities or services will it offer? (eg. walk-through enclosures, meet the animals, parties...) • What would it be called? Where would it be built? How big would it be? Price of admission? • What is your zoo’s main attraction animals? • What makes your zoo special and different? • Put your design onto a large sheet of butcher’s paper. Include a sketched plan of the layout, as well as labels and further descriptions of what your zoo has to offer. • Prizes will be awarded for the zoo voted the best!