Wild animals have fascinated human observers since time immemorial. The story of our interest in collecting, classifying and dominating nature so that its inner workings could be understood also looms large in the history of science, and thus it is surprising that the history of menageries, zoological gardens and the zoo as we know it today has been so poorly documented. This gap is addressed by "Zoo", a comprehensive history of the zoo in the Western world. Beginning in the Renaissance, wealthy aristocrats showcased large numbers of exotic beasts in their menageries. Safely caged, animals inspired the interest of naturalists and fed the curiosity of the masses. In the 19th century, increased urbanization and colonization aided the expansion of zoos in which animals, imported in their thousands, were tamed to serve as domesticated livestock. Nowadays, with wildlife and many natural habitats under the threat of extinction, the social function of zoos is less clear. Such institutions both present the illusion of wild animals in a natural state to a nostalgic public and find themselves justifying their existence as saviours of endagered species to their detractors.
With the aid of numerous illustrations and anecdotes, the text takes readers behind the scenes of this frequently misunderstood institution.
Buy Zoo book by Eric Baratay from Australia's Online Independent Bookstore, Boomerang Books.
(257mm x 217mm x 33mm)
Publisher: Reaktion Books
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Author Biography - Eric Baratay
Eric Baratay is Senior Lecturer in History at the Universite Jean-Moulin, Lyon. Elisabeth Hardouin-Fugier is Professor of Art History at the Universite Jean-Moulin, Lyon. She is the author of many books, including A History of French Still Life in the Nineteenth Century (1998).