I love a zoo, so much so that I when I say that I am going away I get asked if I’ll be going to a zoo when I’m there – if they have one of course. Zoo’s or menageries as they were then known became popular during the early 1800’s as a form of entertainment and wonder, whereas now they are more about conservation and education.
Zoo Lovers Day is a great excuse to get your family together, friends or partner and take a trip to see local and exotic animals of the world. Let’s be fair, it’s not like you can see lions prowling in your back garden or playful monkeys swinging through the trees on your commute to work or a pack of coyotes eyeing up their next kill – well unless you’re at the Next Boxing Day sale.
Do animals suffer in zoos?
I could not write this post, without addressing this question. It is a tough one for me. I know it is not their natural habitat, and they are permanently caged and are limited to where and what they can do, but I do also understand the need to keep these exhibits open to raise funds for conservation programs all over the world and to fight to protect species from going extinct.
The modern zoos are very aware of the conditions needed to mirror the natural habitat as closely as possible and maintain proper health and behaviour of the animals. Activities are arranged to help keep them mentally alert and physically active, which to some extent eliminates the boredom, deterioration, and eventual degradation of the animal at the zoo. However, there are some habitats a zoo simply cannot replicate.
Why zoos are important
The reality is most of these programs are underfunded and underrepresented. There is also the struggle of humans destroying forests and other natural habitats as well as the environment. The reality of it means that zoos, national parks, or other care facilities are relied upon to support the rehabilitation of the animals and their populations. Zoos benefit conservation by providing suitable habitats and care to endangered animals. When properly regulated, they present a safe, clean environment for the animals to diversely repopulate.
Some zoo facts
- The Vienna Zoo is the oldest existing zoo, it was founded as an imperial menagerie in 1752 and was opened to the public in 1765.
- Animal print clothing is banned at Chessington World of Adventures after zookeepers noticed that the animals moved closer to people wearing their respective patterns and colouring.
- The United State’s first public zoo, Central Park Zoo, opened in 1874 in New York.
- During the 18th century, the price of admission into a zoo in England was three half-pence, or the supply of a cat or dog to be fed to the lions.
- A bear cub named Winnipeg was exported from Canada to the London Zoo in 1915. A little boy named Christopher Robin Milne loved to visit Winnipeg (or Winnie for short) and his love for the bear cub inspired the stories written by his father, A.A. Milne, about Winnie-the-Pooh.
- Human beings were also displayed in cages during the 1931 Paris Colonial Exposition and as late as 1958 in a “Congolese Village” display in Brussels. It included people from Madagascar, India, China, Sudan, Congo, Tunisia and Morocco. Over 1 million people visited the zoo.
- Approximately 600 million people visit a zoo each year.
- While writing the Origin of the Species, Charles Darwin regularly visited ZSL London Zoo to study the first orangutan that lived there, named Jenny. He noticed the human-like behaviour and characteristics of the ape such as listening to the zoo-keeper, throwing tantrums when she didn’t get a snack and being surprised by her own reflection in a mirror.
- There are more than 10,000 zoos and aquariums in the world
- ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is the biggest zoo in the UK whereas Henry Doorly Zoo in Nebraska is considered to be the biggest in the world in terms of space and species
Some of my favourite zoos
Here’s a list of the zoos that I have visited, but I’m pretty sure I’ve missed some of the list:
- Belfast Zoo
- Bristol Zoo Gardens
- Chessington World of Adventures
- Chester Zoo
- Cotswold Wildlife Park
- Drayton Manor Theme Park
- Dudley Zoological Gardens
- Edinburgh Zoo
- Folly Farm
- Longleat Safari Park
- Paignton Zoo Environmental Park
- Penscynor Wildlife Park
- Plymouth Aquarium
- Sea Aquarium Western Super Mare
- Sealife Weymouth
- The Donkey Sanctuary
- The Monkey Sanctuary
- The Welsh Hawking Centre
- Torquay Coastal Zoo & Aquarium
- Twycross Zoo
- Wales Ape & Monkey Sanctuary
- Wye Valley Butter Zoo
- ZSL Whipsnade
- Dublin Zoo
- Aquarium Berlin
- Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden
- Krakow Zoo
- Prague Zoo
- Zoo Berlin
- Busch Gardens, Tampa, Florida
- Central Park Zoo, New York (ok, I didn’t go inside this one, but you can see most things from outside)
- Gatorland, Orlando, Florida
- Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Palm Springs, California
- Seaworld California
- Seaworld Orlando
- Wild Florida
What’s your favourite zoo? Or your favourite animal? (I love giraffes, lion, tigers and elephants!) I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. You can also follow the conversation on social using #NationalZooLoversDay #ZooLoversDay