From King Solomon's collections of "apes and peacocks" to the menageries of English and Hapsburg monarchs, the display of exotic animals has delighted and amazed observers for centuries. Originally prized as symbols of elite wealth and power, such collections have been dramatically transformed since 1800—particularly in terms of audience and purpose.
In New Worlds, New Animals, R. J. Hoage and William A. Deiss assemble essays that concentrate on the development of the modern zoo in the nineteenth century. Taking an in-depth look at the social climate of the century, they chart the transition from elaborate menageries for exclusive patrons to public facilities that expressed the power and might of nations to institutions dedicated to public education, wildlife conservation, and biological research. These changes reflect the larger transformation of the West—from the colonial era's desire to "tame" newly discovered continents to today's more egalitarian, conservation-minded world.
New Worlds, New Animals begins with an overview of the history of menageries in antiquity and their development in Europe and the United States. Zoos in many countries had quite different origins—including a fish market that became an animal dealership before becoming a zoo and an Australian way station originally designed to acclimate Old World domestic stock to a new continent.
The authors also examine the period in the United States between 1830 and 1880, when popular traveling animal shows and circuses gave way to the first public zoos in New York and Philadelphia. They take an in-depth look at the establishment of the National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C.—the first zoo created to preserve endangered species. Illustrated with nearly 100 photographs, New Worlds, New Animals gives readers a new respect for and understanding of the role of zoos in social and cultural history.
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