1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Zoological Gardens

ZOOLOGICAL GARDENS, sometimes called Zoological Parks, institutions in which wild animals are kept in captivity. Their primary object is to gratify the pleasure most persons take in viewing at close range the curious and beautiful living products of nature, but they serve also as means of instruction in natural history, providing material for museums and for investigations in comparative anatomy and pathology, while they may have a commercial value as pleasure resorts, or as show grounds for the display of animals that have been imported or bred for sale.

According to Captain Stanley Flower, director of the Zoological Gardens at Giza, Cairo, Egypt, the ancient Egyptians kept various species of wild animals in captivity, but the first Zoological Garden of which there is definite knowledge was founded in China by the first emperor of the Chou dynasty, who reigned about 1100 B.C. This was called the “Intelligence Park,” and appears to have had a scientific and educational object. The ancient Greeks and Romans kept in captivity large numbers of such animals as leopards, lions, bears, elephants, antelopes, giraffes, camels, rhinoceroses and hippopotamuses, as well as ostriches and crocodiles, but these were destined for slaughter at the gladiatorial shows. In later times royal persons and great feudal magnates frequently kept menageries of wild animals, aviaries and aquaria, and it is from these that modern public Gardens have taken their origin. Henry I. (1100–1135) established a menagerie at Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England. This was transferred to the Tower of London, apparently in the reign of Henry III., and kept up there until at least 1828. Philip VI. had a menagerie in the Louvre at Paris in 1333, Charles V. maintained collections at Conflans, Tournelles and in Paris, and Louis XI. formed a menagerie at Plessis les Tours in Touraine, which after his death was re-established at the Louvre in Paris and enlarged by collections obtained in North Africa. It was destroyed by Henry III. Henry IV. had a small collection, which included an elephant. Louis XIII. kept some animals at Versailles, whilst his son Louis XIV. founded the famous “Menagerie du Parc” at Versailles, which received many animals from Cairo, was maintained for over a century, and furnished much valuable material to French naturalists and anatomists. It gradually decayed, however, and was almost extinguished by the mob in 1789. In 1793 the Paris Museum of Natural History was re-established by law, and Buffon's idea of attaching to it a menagerie was carried out; the latter, as the collection in the Jardin des Plantes, still survives.

In Germany the elector Augustus I. founded a menagerie at Dresden in 1554. In the New World, according to Prescott, King Nezahualcoyotl had zoological gardens at Tezcuco in Mexico in the middle of the 15th century, whilst in the next century Cortes found aviaries and fishponds at Iztapalapan and Montezuma II., emperor of Mexico in the beginning of the 16th century, maintained large collections of animals in the gardens of his capital.

Most of the modern zoological gardens date from comparatively recent years, and there are a larger number stocked with a finer collection of animals, more suitably housed, than at any past time in the history of the world. According to a reference list compiled by Captain Stanley Flower, there were 102 actually existing public gardens or parks containing collections of wild animals in 1910, while there are also a considerable number of private collections. It is possible to refer here only to the more important of these.

Africa.—The Zoological Gardens at Giza, Cairo, are a government institution administered by the Public Works Department. The grounds are beautifully laid out and the collection is particularly rich in African animals, to which the climate is well adapted. The Khartum Zoological Gardens are free to the public and are under the control of the municipality, but the collection of animals is under the Game Preservation Department. The Transvaal Zoological Gardens at Pretoria are a government institution, and are associated with the Museum.

America, North.—The Zoological Park at Bronx Borough, New York City, opened in 1899, is one of the largest in the world. It is controlled by the Zoological Society of New York, with representatives of the municipality of the City of New York, and is financed largely out of municipal funds, and is open free to the public five days a week. The Park occupies nearly 300 acres, of great natural beauty, which has been increased by the judicious arts of the landscape gardener. It contains many fine buildings, designed on the most modern lines, but its special feature is a series of spacious enlosures for large herds of bison and deer. In a sense it serves also as a national reserve, and has already been an important factor in the preservation of the American bison. The National Zoological Park at Washington, D.C., was founded by Congress in 1889-1890 "for the advancement of science and the instruction and recreation of the people." The site was purchased by the United States government, and all the expenses come from national funds, the management being vested in the Smithsonian Institution. The Park consists of about 265 acres of undulating land with natural woods and rocks, traversed by a gorge cut by Rock Creek, a tributary of the Potomac. The river and gorge extend into the country far beyond the Park, and in addition to the animals that have been introduced, there are many wild creatures living in their native freedom, such as musk rats in the creek, grey squirrels, crested cardinals and turkey buzzards. The varied natural conditions form an almost ideal site for a collection of animals; great care and skill have been expended on the designing and construction of the houses, the collection receives many accessions from various government departments, including the foreign consular service, and the whole institution is rapidly becoming a model of what is possible. The Zoological Gardens in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, resemble the gardens of the Zoological Society of London, on which they were modelled. They are controlled by the Zoological Society of Philadelphia, founded in 1859, and are supported partly by subscriptions of members, partly by gate-money and partly by an allowance from the city of Philadelphia. They contain an admirable collection, well housed and carefully managed, a specially interesting feature being the careful quarantine system of new arrivals and the post-mortem examinations of animals that have died. There are many smaller collections in the United States and several in Canada, but none of these present features of special interest.

America, South.—The Zoological Gardens at Buenos Aires are supported by the municipality, and contain many interesting animals, well housed in beautiful surroundings. The director issues a popular illustrated guide and a valuable quarterly scientific journal. At Para, Brazil, is a good collection attached to the Museum Goeldi, and there are unimportant collections at Rio de Janeiro and Bahia.

Asia.—There are many small collections in different parts of Asia, but the only garden of great interest is at Alipore, Calcutta, supported chiefly by gate-money and a contribution from government, and managed by an honorary committee. It was established in 1875 by the government of Bengal, in co-operation with the public, and is 33 acres in area. An extremely interesting collection is maintained, the variety of bird life, both feral and in captivity, being notable.

Australia and New Zealand.—There are Zoological Gardens at Melbourne (founded in 1857), Adelaide, Sydney and Perth, and small gardens at Wellington, New Zealand, supported partly by private societies and partly by the municipalities. These collections are not specially rich in the very interesting and peculiar native fauna, but devote themselves preponderatingly to imported animals.

Europe.—There are a large number of zoological gardens in Europe, but those of real importance are not numerous. The Imperial Menagerie of the palace of Schonbrunn, Vienna, was founded about 1752. The public are admitted free to the greater part of the grounds, but the gardens and collection are the property of and are supported by the emperor of Austria. The collection is fine and well cared for in beautiful surroundings. The garden and large menagerie of the Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp were founded in 1843, and have been maintained at a very high level. The collection is not usually very rich in species, but there have been great and long-continued successes in the breeding of large animals such as hippopotamuses, lions and antelopes, and a very large business is done in domesticated birds, water-fowl and cage birds. The annual sales of wild animals, held in the Gardens, chiefly surplus stock from various European Gardens, are famous. The revenue is derived partly from subscriptions, partly from gate-money, from the fine concert-hall and refreshment pavilions, and from sales. The Gardens of the Zoological Society of London in Regent's Park, founded in 1828, extend to only about 35 acres, but the collection, if species and rare animals be considered rather than the number of individuals, has always been the finest in existence. The Society is not assisted by the state or the municipality, but derives its revenue from the subscriptions of Fellows, gate-money, Garden receipts and so forth. In addition to the menagerie, there is an infirmary and operating room, an anatomical and pathological laboratory, and the Society holds scientific meetings and publishes stately volumes containing the results of zoological research. Partly because of its long and successful existence, and partly because of the extensive possessions of Great Britain throughout the world, the Zoological Society of London has been able to exhibit for the first time in captivity a greater number of species of wild animals than probably the total of those shown by all other collections. The Royal Zoological Society of Ireland, founded in 1830, maintains a fine collection in the Phoenix Park at Dublin, and has been specially successful in the breeding of lions. The Bath, Clifton and West of England Zoological Society owns small but extremely well-managed Zoological Gardens, well situated on the edge of Clifton Downs. Messrs Jennison have maintained since 1831 a Zoological Collection in their pleasure Park at Belle Vue, Manchester. The animals exhibited are selected chiefly because of their popular interest, but the arrangements for housing are specially ingenious and successful, those for monkeys and snakes being notable. The Zoologisk Have at Copenhagen, founded in 1859, contains a good collection, with a specially well-designed monkey-house. At Lyons and at Marseilles in France there are beautifully situated Gardens with small collections, in each case owned and controlled by the municipalities. In Paris there are two well-known Gardens. That of the Jardin des Plantes was founded in 1793 and is under the control of the Museum authorities. It is open free to the public and generally contains a good collection of mammals. The larger and better known Jardin d'Acclimatation in the Bois de Boulogne is owned and conducted by a private company. It was founded in 1858 and is beautifully situated and well laid out. In addition to wild animals it usually contains many domesticated creatures of commercial value. In recent years it has been somewhat neglected and presents no features of special interest, but efforts are being made to revive its prosperity. Germany contained in 1910 nineteen Zoological Gardens in active existence whilst several others were in process of formation. In most cases they are associated with concert-halls and open-air restaurants, which account for much of their material prosperity, but the natural taste of the people for wild animals, and the increasing scientific and commercial enterprise of the nation have combined to make the collections rich and interesting. The great Gardens at Berlin were founded in 1844, and belong to a private company, but owe much to the interest and beneficence of the Royal House. The collection is extremely good, the houses are well constructed and sumptuously decorated, and the general management is conducted on the most adequate scientific lines. The Zoological Gardens at Breslau, founded in 1863 and owned by a private company, although not large, contain many fine buildings and are a notably well-managed institution. They possessed a fine gorilla, keeping it alive for a longer period than has been done in any other zoological collection. The beautiful Gardens at Cologne, founded in 1860, contain many interesting features and in particular one of the finest aviaries in Europe. The Gardens of the Zoological Society of Hamburg, founded in 1863, always contain a large and fine collection and display many ingenious devices for the housing of the animals. More recently C. Hagenbeck has constructed a remarkable zoological park at Stellingen, near Hamburg. The chief feature of this is a magnificent panorama, from the central point of which large collections of wild animals are visible without any intervening bars. The background consists of artificial rockwork, supported on huge wooden scaffoldings. The surface is formed of cement moulded over metal gimmel-work, and arranged to form ledges and boulders, peaks and escarpments, and faced with coloured sand and paint. It is made sufficiently strong to bear the weight of the animals, which are confined within their bounds by undercut overhanging ridges, and by deep and wide ditches, masked by rockwork. The arrangement is extremely successful from the spectacular point of view, and very suitable where most of the animals are young and in process of training. The chief gardens in Holland are at Amsterdam, owned by the society "Natura Artis Magistra." In addition to the menagerie, founded in 1838, and since then remaining one of the chief collections of the world, the Society owns a fine aquarium, and supports a museum and library. The garden at Rotterdam is also of high interest. The zoological collections of other European countries are of little importance.

Certain general remarks may be made on the efficient management of the zoological gardens.

Finance.—Disbursements for rent, rates and taxes naturally vary according to the special conditions; in a large number of cases public land is provided free of cost, and in a smaller number of cases the institutions, in view of their useful public functions, are relieved of the ordinary burden of taxation. In London, where rent, rates and taxes have all to be paid, precisely as if the gardens were a profit-distributing private institution, the annual expenditure under these headings amounts to about £2000. The staff, excluding purely scientific departments, costs about £6000 per annum; gardening department, about £1500 per annum; maintenance of buildings, enclosures, paths and so forth, about £4000 per annum; provisions for animals, about £5000 per annum; litter, water, heating and general menagerie expenses about £3000 per annum. These figures are based chiefly on the London expenditure and relate to a collection which is probably more varied than any other, but not specially large in numbers, containing on an average a little over 3000 individuals. The cost of maintaining the collection depends on the numbers received by purchase, in exchange, or presented, but for an average of about £2000 per annum a collection such as that in London can be adequately maintained. The cost of new buildings varies too much to make any individual figures useful.

Many of the zoological gardens are owned by private companies and derive their income entirely from gate-money, menagerie sales, rent of refreshment rooms, concert-halls and other auxiliary public attractions, any profits being distributed amongst the members of the company. In other cases the gardens are assisted by public authorities, in return for which a certain number of free days are given. In other cases again, as in the case of London, the income is derived partly from the subscriptions of members, who in return receive privilege§ as to admission, and partly from gate-money and menagerie receipts, all the income being expended on the maintenance of the institution and on scientific purposes.

Nature of Collection.—This depends to a certain extent on the object of the institution. The species and varieties of mammals and birds that have a commercial value as farmyard stock or as pets, are for the most part easy to keep, are attractive to the public and may be a source of profit. Some of the smaller gardens in Europe, and perhaps a majority of those in other parts of the world, pay much attention to this side, but the more important collections are as much as possible limited to natural species and wild animals. In theory every wild species has its place in a zoological collection, but the actual choice is limited by so many practical considerations that the better-known collections are remarkably alike. Birds and mammals take the first place; the leading collections devote a good deal of attention to reptiles and batrachians; fishes and aquatic invertebrata are most often to be found only when there are special aquaria, whilst non-aquatic invertebrates are seldom to be seen and at most consist of a few moths and butterflies, spiders, scorpions and centipedes, molluscs and crustaceans. Within these limits, the first choice falls on large and well-known creatures which every one can recognize and desires to see. The large Carnivora, lions, tigers, jaguars and leopards are the first favourites; then follow monkeys, then the large ungulates, elephants, rhinoceroses and hippopotamuses, camels and giraffes, deer and antelopes and equine animals, whilst birds are appreciated chiefly for plumage and song. Animals vary very greatly in viability (see Longevity), and practical experience has shown that certain species bear captivity well, whilst others for reasons that appear to be psychological as well as physical quickly succumb. Many animals of great zoological interest, from their nocturnal habits, or natural disposition, display themselves so seldom that their possession is valueless from the point of view of the public, whilst closely allied species are not distinguished except by trained observers. If the object of a collection is simply to provide a hardy and popular exhibition, it is neither difficult nor very costly to get together and to maintain. But if the object be, as in the case of the greater zoological institutions, to get together as many species as possible, and to exhibit animals that have not been hitherto obtained, the possible range is enormous and the cost very great.

Sources of Animals.—A certain number of wild animals are born in captivity and from time to time the possession of a successful stock enables one collection to supply many others. At one time London was able to supply many Continental gardens with giraffes, and Dublin and Antwerp have had great successes with lions, whilst antelopes, sheep and cattle, deer and equine animals are always to be found breeding in one collection or another. Such stocks, however, usually fail in time, partly from too close interbreeding, partly from the ordinary chances of mortality, and partly from the cumulative effects of strange conditions. Fresh-caught wild animals have to be obtained to replenish the stock. In the majority of cases the conditions of success are that the wild creatures should be obtained as young as possible, kept in their native localities until they have become accustomed to man and to such food as they can be given at their ultimate destinations. The percentage of failure is greatest when fresh-caught adults are hurried to Europe or America. Individuals, moreover, vary greatly in their capacity to respond successfully to new conditions of life, and it is less costly and more practical if the selection be made in their natural homes. The most promising sources of new animals for collections are young creatures which have been partly tamed by hunters, traders or natives, and which have been acquired by travellers. Many of these find their way to the great shipping-ports, where there have grown up establishments that trade in wild animals. Occasionally special expeditions are arranged to procure numbers of particular birds or mammals, but these are extremely costly and the mortality is usually high.

Area and Site.—The areas occupied vary from about 300 acres (New York) to about 8 acres (Bristol, England). In the larger gardens, however, the greater part of the space is engaged by a few extensive enclosures for herds of herbivorous animals, and where no attempt is made to associate the function of a game reserve with that of a menagerie a smaller area is quite satisfactory. From the point of view of public convenience, too large a space is fatiguing and makes it more difficult to see the animals, whilst the expenses of maintenance, drainage and supervision increase out of proportion to the advantages. The older gardens have followed too closely the idea of small cages, designed to guard an animal securely rather than to display it in a fitting environment, but if exercise, light and air are provided, animals do better in a relatively small than in a relatively large enclosure. With regard to situation, the ideal would be to have the collection placed in the open country, far from centres of population. But as menageries are supported for the public and in most cases by the public, such a site is impractical, and if the soil, drainage and exposure are reasonably good, experience shows that a thriving collection may be maintained in the immediate vicinity of large towns.

Hygiene.—The first requisite is strict attention to cleanliness. A collection of animals must be compared with public institutions such as barracks, or infirmaries. There must be an abundant supply of fresh air and of water, and a drainage system as complete as possible. The soil of yards and the floors and walls of houses rapidly become contaminated, and the ideal condition would be to have an impermeable flooring covering the whole area, and supplied with suitable layers of sand, sawdust, peat-moss or other absorbent substances which can be changed at frequent intervals. The buildings should be constructed on the most modern hospital lines, with smooth walls and rounded corners, so that complete cleansing and disinfecting are possible. It has been shown abundantly, however, that even the best designed and best cared for buildings rapidly become contaminated, and it is probable that the costly and massive buildings of the more modern Gardens are erroneous in principle, and should be replaced by light and cheap structures not intended to last longer than a few years. In most temperate climates, artificial heating is necessary, at least occasionally, in many cases, but the tendency has been to be more sedulous of warmth than of ventilation. Cold-blooded animals, such as reptiles and batrachians, thrive best in an equable temperature, and, especially in the case of snakes, frequently can be induced to feed only when their temperature has been raised to a certain point. But the vast majority of birds and mammals not only can endure a large range of temperature, but thrive best when they are subjected to it. Protection from violent draught and shelter from extremes of heat and cold are necessary, but in most cases the choice is best left to the animals themselves, and the most successful arrangements consist of free exposure to the open air, with access to warmth and shelter. All collections of living beings are subject to epidemics, and in an ideal menagerie special precautions should be taken. New arrivals should be quarantined, until it is certain that they are in a satisfactory condition of health. Sickly animals should be at once isolated, and their cages and enclosures disinfected, whilst as a matter of routine the enclosure in which any animal has died should be cleansed, and according to the results of post-mortem examination, which should be made in every case, appropriate measures of disinfection employed.

Feeding.—The food must be as varied as possible, and special attention should be given to the frequency and quantity of the supply. It is important that no more should be supplied at a time than is necessary, as most animals rapidly foul their food, and except in a few special cases, wild animals are peculiarly liable to the evil results of stale or putrid substances. Quantities can be learned from experience, and from watching individual cases; frequency varies within very wide limits, from reptiles which at most may feed once a week and fast for long periods, to the smaller insectivorous birds which require to be fed every two or three hours, and which in the winter dark of northern latitudes must be lighted up once or twice in the night to have the opportunity of feeding. Knowledge of the habits of animals and experience are the best guides to the nature of food to be supplied, but the keepers should be required to observe the droppings of their charges and to judge from these of the extent to which any particular substances are being digested. The feeding of carnivores is on the whole the most easy; the chief pitfall being the extreme liability of all except the larger forms to fatal digestive disturbances from food that is not quite fresh. The more powerful creatures in a state of nature are accustomed to kill a prey too large to be devoured at once, and to return to it again and again, long after it has become putrid; the smaller forms, for the most part, devour nothing but small creatures immediately after they have been captured and killed, and consequently in an absolutely fresh condition. The chief danger with herbivorous and frugivorous creatures is that their constitutions are not adapted to the richness of cultivated fruits and cereals, and, in captivity, they may suffer mechanically from the want of bulk in their food supply, or if they eat a quantity sufficient in bulk, it contains an excess of nutritive material. A minor problem in menageries is injudicious feeding by visitors. Many authorities attempt to restrain visitors from feeding the animals in their charge, but such a restriction, even if practicable, is not all gain, for animals in captivity are less inclined to mope, and are more intelligent and tamer, if they become accustomed to regard visitors as pleasant sources of tit-bits.

Literature.—S. S. Flower, Notes on Zoological Collections visited in Europe in 1907 (Public Works Dept., Cairo); Reference List of the Zoological Gardens of the World (1910); C. V. A. Peel, The Zoological Gardens of Europe (London, 1903); "Bulletins of the Zoological Society of New York" (with many photographs and plans of buildings and enclosures); Annual Reports of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington; G. Loisel, Rapport sur une mission scientifique dans les jardins et établissements zoologiques publics et privés du Royaume-Uni, de la Belgique et des Pays-Bas, et des États-Unis et du Canada, et conclusions générales (Paris, Imprimerie Nationale, 1907, 1908; with many photographs and plans).  (P. C. M.)