A Different Nature: The Paradoxical World of Zoos and Their Uncertain Future

A Different Nature: The Paradoxical World of Zoos and Their Uncertain Future


By (author) David Hancocks

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  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Format: Paperback | 302 pages
  • Dimensions: 144mm x 226mm x 22mm | 340g
  • Publication date: 1 January 2003
  • Publication City/Country: Berkerley
  • ISBN 10: 0520236769
  • ISBN 13: 9780520236769
  • Illustrations note: 38 b/w photographs, 1 line illustration
  • Sales rank: 373,992

Product description

Humanity has had an enduring desire for close contact with exotic animals - from the Egyptian kings who kept thousands of animals, including monkeys, wild cats, hyenas, giraffes, and oryx, to the enormously popular zoological parks of today. This book, the most extensive history of zoos yet published, is a fascinating look at the origins, evolution, and - most importantly - the future of zoos. David Hancocks, an architect and zoo director for thirty years, is passionately opposed to the poor standards that have prevailed and still exist in many zoos. He reviews the history of zoos in light of their failures and successes and points the way toward a more humane approach, one that will benefit both the animals and the humans who visit them. This book, replete with illustrations and full of moving stories about wild animals in captivity, shows that we have only just begun to realize zoos' enormous potential for good. Hancocks singles out and discusses the better zoos, exploring such places as the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, the Bronx Zoo with its dedication to worldwide conservation programs, Emmen Zoo in Holland with its astonishingly diverse education programs, Wildscreen in England, and Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo, where the concept of 'landscape immersion' - exhibits that surround people and animals in carefully replicated natural habitats - was pioneered. Calling for us to reinvent zoos, Hancocks advocates the creation of a new type of institution: one that reveals the interconnections among all living things and celebrates their beauty, inspires us to develop greater compassion for wild animals great and small, and elicits our support for preserving their wild habitats.

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Author information

David Hancocks lives in Melbourne, Australia. He is Director of the Open Range Zoo, at Werribee, and Director of Planning for the Zoological Parks and Gardens Board, Victoria, Australia. He is author of Animals and Architecture (1971) and Master Builders of the Animal World (1973).

Review quote

"Brilliant. Its clear and unpretentious language and Hancocks' evident passion for and knowledge of his subject made it one of the best books I have read in a long while."-Tim Murray, The Age (Melbourne) An "excellent survey."-BBC Wildlife

Back cover copy

"A well-written and provocative, opinion-rich account of zoos, their history, and their goals and purposes. Hancocks has earned the right to speak authoritatively about these subjects, thanks to his tenure as director of two leading U. S. zoos. This book will appeal to general readers and to all persons interested in zoos and their role in conservation and education."--John Alcock, author of "Animal Behavior: An Evolutionary Approach""Giraffes, elephants, gorillas, snakes, and toucans respond poorly to the usual conventions of human architecture. Zoo architects usually respond no less poorly to the needs of animals. David Hancocks draws on a lifetime's experience working as a zoo director and zoo architect to explore this dilemma, and offers a compelling vision for the future. This is an important book for those interested in conservation as well as for zoo and museum buffs."--William Conway, former President and General Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Bronx Zoo "For over two decades David Hancocks has fervently tried to reform the fundamental character and mission of zoos. This book is his most thorough analysis of what is wrong with them and his most detailed and compelling plea for improvement. Every conscientious zoo administrator, curator, and keeper should read it from cover to cover with an open mind. Professionals in botanical gardens, museums, and nature parks should also consider this treatise because Hancocks advocates that a fusion of all of these institutions into a new entity better positioned to interpret the entire biosphere."-Mark A. Dimmitt, Director of Natural History, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Table of contents

List of Illustrations Preface Acknowledgments 1. Collections as Status 2. The Eighteenth-Century Concept 3. The Nineteenth-Century Phenomenon 4. Romanticists and Modernists 5. Toward New Frontiers 6. Immersed in the Landscape 7. Agents of Conservation 8. Which Way the Future? Epilogue Bibliography Illustration Credits Index