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History of Modern Zoological Gardens
from the 17th to the Early 20th Century


Korean Minjok Leadership Academy
International Program
Chung, Sangyun
Term Paper, AP European History Class, December 2007



Table of Contents


I. General Concepts - Definition, Creation and Influential Thoughts
II. Zoological Gardens from the 17th to the 18th Century
II.1 The Beginning of the Modern Zoological Garden - The Menagerie du Parc
II.2 The Spread of Modern Zoological Gardens in Europe
II.3 Access to the General Public
II.4 Artists' and Scholars' Interest
II.5 The Deterioration of Royal Zoological Gardens
III. Zoological Gardens from the 19th to the Early 20th Century
III.1 The Archetype of the Public Zoological Garden - The Jardin des Plantes
III.2 The Re-Spread of Zoological Gardens in Europe
III.3 Zoological Societies
IV. Human Zoos
V. Conclusion
VI. Bbliography



I. General Concepts - Definition, Creation and Influential Thoughts
            Zoological gardens, or zoos in short, have a long history which goes back to approximately 2000 years ago. However, it takes a lot of time for zoological gardens to resemble those of today, which we call modern zoological gardens. The early modern zoological gardens started to emerge during the 17th century, and they were different in shape and purpose compared to the recent ones. When the first modern zoological gardens established, unlike those of today, there were only a small number of them, their size were small, and used not for educational or scientific uses, but rather for noblemen¡¯s fulfillment of curiosity or for sideshows at the circus.
            Early modern zoological gardens can be divided into two groups ? zoological gardens themselves and menageries. Although nowadays people do not particularly distinguish the differences between menageries and zoological gardens, menageries are rather smaller in size, and were originally made for amusement and attraction at a circus or in a small park. Compared chronologically, menageries appeared about 100 years earlier than zoological gardens.
            The establishment of modern zoological gardens was strongly influenced by Colonialism and Absolutism. Since many countries in Europe started to conduct Colonialism outside the continent approximately from 15th century, they could discover new continents including Africa, colonize the countries, and bring the exotic animals from there to make a small exhibition at noble¡¯s houses. Absolutism also brought a great influence on the creation of zoological gardens. The menagerie in the Versailles, established by Louis XIV, could be the main example. In the time of Louis XIV when Absolutism flourished, not only magnificent palaces like the Versailles but also diverse entertainments were made for the noblemen, including menageries developed in Zoological gardens. Overall, in the creation of modern zoological gardens, Colonialism provided resources and Absolutism provided financial support.
            Most of the early modern zoological gardens flourished mainly in Western Europe; France had the earliest historically recognized one, followed by Germanic lands, although many places, including a number of private villas in Italy, also kept wild animals within their territory before France had.

II. Zoological Gardens from the 17th to the 18th Century

II.1 The Beginning of the Modern Zoological Garden - The Menagerie du Parc
            Although there were a number of places where exotic animals from outside Europe are kept during the 17th century, Menagerie du Parc, a menagerie in Versailles created by Louis XIV, is considered as the beginning of the modern zoological garden. After inheriting Louis XIII's hunting lodge and some animals in 1660, Louis XIV built royal gardens there, and his menagerie, constructed under the direction of the architect Louis Le Vau in 1664, was one of those gardens that were built for more frequent visits to his palace. With its Baroque style, the Menagerie du Parc attracted nobles who visited Versailles, thus fulfilling Louis XIV¡¯¡¯s purpose of making a menagerie, which was to celebrate his glory.

II.2 The Spread of Modern Zoological Gardens in Europe
            The construction of menagerie in Versailles influenced other countries in Europe, especially in the German lands, where gardens in the style of architect Le Notre started to emerge in the 1690s. During the early 18th century, Prince Eugene of Savoy mainly contributed in building Belvedere Castle in Schloss in Germany, and established a menagerie in there. Another example can be the Schönbrunn Castle near Vienna, which was enlarged from 1744 by an order of Emperor Francis I. In there, Tiergarten Schönbrunn was built in 1752 by the French architect Jadot de Ville-Issey on the border between the gardens and the park. Unlike Versailles, the gardens at Schönbrunn Castle, including the menagerie, were redone in a Rococo style by leaving more rooms and having various elements than Versailles did.

II.3 Access to the General Public
            When the early menageries were opened, public access was limited, except for the aristocratic nobles who maintained friendly relationships with the owners. However, as the owners craved for more power towards the society, good appearance was needed; hence, menageries started to make their private menageries and modern zoological gardens more public, granting more access to the public to visit their gardens. While most of the menageries and zoological gardens that were erected before the mid 18th century stayed as private gardens for a long time, zoos that were constructed after the end of the 17th century didn't take long time to convert into public zoological gardens. Tiergarten Schönbrunn for instance, which was opened in 1752, became public in 1779. However, until the 19th century, many menageries did not grant access to the public.

II.4 Artists' and Scholars' Interest
            The developments of menageries and early modern zoological gardens not only attracted nobles and public, but also intrigued a lot of artists at that time. During the 17th and 18th century, Baroque and Rococo style were dominant over the artistic world, and the construction of zoos itself was influenced by these revolutionary styles. The point is that artists at that time were interested in exotic animals in zoological gardens at that time; they were useful as a model when painting mythic paintings, decorating buildings, and sketching book illustrations. Although exotic animals existed in paintings and works that were created before modern zoological gardens were erected, kinds of animals in paintings and works increased and improved after modern zoological gardens were created.
            Scholars of the 17th and 18th century, mainly naturalists, were also interested in these exotic animals, for they were able to correct the incorrectness of information about animals outside Europe depicted by explorers, seamen, and missionaries. This way of thinking was reinforced during the Scientific Revolution. As direct observations became possible, they were able to pick the wrong fabrications of literature and such, and see the real examples of the exotic animals. However, due to the rarity of specimens and restricted views in the modern zoological gardens at that time, scholars had to wait for existing materials until 18th and 19th century, when public views were allowed and kinds of specimen increased.

II.5 The Deterioration of Royal Zoological Gardens
            However, not every menagerie flourished forever. Menagerie du Parc, for instance, started to deteriorate as its owners stopped caring. After the death of Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI paid little attention towards Menagerie du Parc, especially Louis XV, who never visited it. Investment started to lack, budget for the menagerie was reduced, and future plans were postponed. Moreover, despite noble¡¯s little attention given during the mid 18th century, Menagerie du Parc finally went downfall after the royal family departed because of the French Revolution; by of this, many animals in the royal menagerie disappeared, skinned, and killed. This brought the deterioration of the princely menageries and lead the introduction of the public zoos, which started to flourish from the 19th century.

III. Zoological Gardens fronm the 19th to the Early 20th Century

III.1 The Archetype of the Public Zoological Garden - The Jardin des Plantes
            During the Enlightenment, people started to oppose to menageries that served for nobles only. People at that time were outraged by how much money was spent on maintaining the menageries, while many of the people were dying. Because of this, many princely menageries disappeared and deteriorated like Menagerie du Parc during the French Revolution, and new type of zoological garden was formed; zoological garden not only for nobles, but also for public and scholarly uses. Hence, in 1794, Jardin des Plantes was erected, supported by many naturalists. The Jardin des Plantes, which was formerly known as the Jardin du Roi, a royal garden, was different than former menageries and zoological gardens in that its establishment was intended to serve the entire nation with educational and scientific uses rather than for the amusement of a few privileged people. This intention of making nationwide public zoo spread out from France to other countries, with the model of Jardin des Plantes standing as the 'standard prototype'; United Kingdom, Netherlands, Belgium and German states were among the first to introduce this new model of zoological garden.

III.2 The Re-Spread of Zoological Gardens in Europe
            In 1828, London Zoo in the United Kingdom was formed mainly for the collection of educational and scientific study by Zoological Society of London, which eventually intrigued the rapid emerging of zoological gardens in countries in Europe. Since the United Kingdom also opposed to princely menageries during the 18th century by naturalists and theorists, including William Kent, it is not very surprising to see zoological gardens which were made for scientific studies such as those in London (1828), Dublin (1831), Bristol (1835), and Manchester (1836). All of them were accessible to public. United Kingdom was also the first country to root the term 'Zoological gardens', zoos in short; those made before 19th century were known as early modern zoological gardens or menageries, smaller in size. Succeeding the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Belgium took the second wave, mainly between the 1830s and 1860s; Amsterdam (1838), Antwerp (1843), Brussels (1851), Ghent (1851), and Rotterdam (1857). France, during the middle 19th century, came back with renovated zoological gardens, such as those in Marseilles (I1854), and Paris (the gardens in the Bois du Boulogne, 1860). The fourth wave came from German states, which formed themselves into a federation in the late 19th century. During the 1860s and 1880s, zoos in the German states flourished noticeably; Berlin (1844), Cologne (1860), Dresden (1861), Stuttgart (1870), Düsseldorf (1874), and many others. These zoological gardens made during the 19th century shows that zoological gardens were built without discriminating the region; They were built in capitals, industrial working places, trading towns, and dwelling areas.
            These influences of spreading zoological gardens started to spread to the outside of the Western Europe. Other countries' capitals like Copenhagen (1859), Moscow (1863), Budapest (1865), Stockholm (1883), Rome (1910), Warsaw (1911), etc. This spread of zoological garden was so rapid and extensive, mainly due to the competition between nations. Also, it was a sign of urban elitism, which saw zoological gardens as important tools that could furnish the city like other entertainments at that time, such as theatres and museums. Actually, building zoological gardens was a part of a pan-European movement involving the foundation of libraries, museums, academies, etc; it was directly influenced by Industrial Revolution.

III.3 Zoological Societies
            Local governments never directly participated in the development of the zoological gardens except Jardin des Plantes in France. Most of them were developed by the fund raised from donations and annual gatherings of Zoological Societies, which mainly started in London. In London, London Zoological Society made several different contributions to zoological gardens, which were led by a council that had executive powers and the rights to direct the gardens. Every society had varying objectives; dedicating for the development of science, for the experiments in domestication, for the access of nature, and for introducing science to the public in an easy way.

IV. Human Zoos
            As time passed, zoological gardens underwent various changes; one of the most significant changes was the emergence of human zoos, or ethnological zoos. During the 19th century, public exhibitions of humans from outside Europe started to emerge, and in the 1870s, exhibitions of 'exotic humans' became widespread and gained popularity.
            Human zoos mainly featured Negroes, including other races such as Indians, Inuit, Samoans, Nubians. Many of them were physically disabled, thus attracting more attention. In human zoos, there were no exceptions in age and sex of 'exotic humans' for being exhibited; plus, they were usually treated with an inhumane way, such as being naked and putting into cages for exhibition. However, after the beginning of the 20th century, these human zoos were widely criticized for its scientific racism, and after the two World Wars, most of human zoos were completely vanished; yet, the concept itself of human zoos still exists today in the form of freak sideshows of the circuses and displays of human beings that held in public zoos, though this time it was made by volunteering.

V. Conclusion
            Over time, zoological gardens developed from small menageries of the nobles to the enormous public exhibitions; many concepts and incidents of history, such as Colonialism, Absolutism, Naturalism, Enlightenment, French Revolution, and Industrial Revolution dedicated to the development of the zoological gardens.
            Nowadays, Zoological gardens are primarily recognized as an educational and entertaining place. Most of the zoological gardens are public nowadays; as various zoos started to emerge in everywhere in the world with new technology, zoological gardens are considered as a common place where everybody could enjoy. And still, further developments are being held in every zoo in the world.

VI. Bibliography

Note : websites quoted below were visited in December 2007.
1.      ZOO ? A history of zoological gardens in the west, Eric Baratay & Elisabeth Haradouin-Fugier, Rekation Books, 2002
2.      Article Zoo, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Micropaedia, Book 12, p.932, 15th edition, 1998
3.      Article : Zoo, from Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoo#History
4.      Article : Human Zoo, from Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_zoo
5.      Article : Menagerie, from Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menagerie
6.      Article : Zoological gardens, from 1911 Encyclopedia (Britannica, 1911 edition), http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Zoological_Gardens
7.      Article : Tiergarten Schönbrunn, from Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiergarten_Sch%C3%B6nbrunn#History


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