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Zoo : A History of Zoological Gardens in the West

By (author) Eric Baratay , By (author) Elisabeth Hardouin-Fugier

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Wild animals have fascinated human observers since time immemorial. The story of our interest in collecting, classifying and dominating Nature looms large; thus it is surprising that the history of menageries, zoological gardens and zoos as we know them today has been so poorly documented. This gap is addressed by "Zoo". In the Renaissance, wealthy aristocrats showcased exotic beasts in private menageries. Safely caged, animals inspired the interest of naturalists and fed the curiosity of the masses. By the nineteenth century, increased urbanization and colonization aided the expansion of zoos in which animals were tamed to serve as domesticated livestock. Nowadays, with many natural habitats under 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 endangered species.

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  • Paperback | 400 pages
  • 210 x 248 x 28mm | 1,378.91g
  • 04 Apr 2004
  • Reaktion Books
  • London
  • English
  • 254 black & white illustrations, 133 colour illustrations
  • 186189208X
  • 9781861892089
  • 452,239

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Author Information

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).

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Review quote

an impressive book' -Sunday Times 'The stark elegance of Eric Baratay and Elisabeth Hardouin-Fugier's argument pulls no punches. Illustrations punctuate the text with an appropriate, and sometimes saddening beauty. What emerges is a history of the craze for the Other The Guardian a fascinating and wide-ranging history of zoos from the menageries attached to aristocratic palaces and villas in the 1500s to those in modern cities ... provides the intriguing and often harrowing background to one of the most agonising dilemmas of our time: with ever more species threatened with extinction in their natural habitat, should we seek to preserve them in special sanctuaries and if so where and how? The Times a richly informative book. An absolute must for those interested in zoo history - or anyone fascinated by Homo sapiens' changing relationship with our fellow creatures. New Scientist For those who wish, nostalgically, to enjoy the pleasures of antique zoo edifices, this lavishly illustrated book offers many rare and fascinating drawings and photographs, while also explaining the complex changes in social attitudes to the keeping of wild beasts in captivity. It is a scholarly and wonderfully researched study providing many insights into what has become an increasingly controversial subject. -- Desmond Morris RIBA Journal a handsome and informative book Church Times A short notice cannot do justice to this admirable and thought-provoking book. Architectural Review a fascinating cultural and architectural history The Independent, Books of the Year Not just a compendium of pretty pictures - though you'll be stunned by the 400 images - this book traces the history of zoos throughout the world. Among similar books, it is unique in exploring the social ramifications of our relations with the peaceable kingdom Library Journal, Best Books of the Year

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