MS. R. Coronado
25 March 2019
Compare and Contrast
In the 1950s, there was a ‘zoo boom’ during which time entrepreneurs recognized the potential money to be made from exhibiting wild animals to satisfy public curiosity.  German collector, Carl Hagenbeck, built the first wild animal park in 1848. He allowed the animals outdoor access, believing their enclosure should more closely resemble nature. Today, there is a push by animal rights activists to that same effect. Until the 20 th century, there was little or no concern for the welfare of zoo animals. It was not until the late 1970s and early 1980s that the appearance of zoos began to change to reflect the public opinion; this transition took place as people were educated about the true conditions endured by zoo animals. Currently, the public image of zoos is changing through methods ranging from mission statements to welfare inspections in order to justify their existence to their critics and the public. It is no question that zoos have come a long way from the time of Ancient Egypt towards ensuring the welfare of zoo animals
Throughout the last quarter of the twentieth century, “landscape immersion” enclosures became popular within zoological parks. Through landscape immersion, zoo exhibits sought to achieve an even more faithful re-creation of an animal’s natural habitat and then extend this habitat into the area viewers occupied. Rather than display and “overexpose,” in the words of one zoo critic, animals as individual specimens, these exhibits sought to teach zoogoers about the interdependence of animals, plants, and places. These enclosures sought to teach zoogoers to think ecologically. First developed through the gorilla and African savanna enclosures of Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo in the 1970s, a landscape-immersion exhibit attempted to give an accurate portrayal of an animal’s environment and then transport zoogoers into that environment. The shift to naturalistic enclosures increased the size of zoo enclosures, and thus did improve the conditions in which animals were held captive. Nonetheless, these enclosures were (and are) anything but natural.
In the 1960s and 70s, in response to the changing zeitgeist towards greater concern about conservation, zoos and aquariums tried to reinvent themselves as places of education and animal protection. But they didn’t really. Instead, they put on a patina, wrapping themselves in the kinds of public buzzwords and display props that only suggested conservation and education but didn’t deliver. Pools and tanks became “habitats” and polar bear enclosures were painted with fake Arctic scenes. And that is where most zoos and aquariums are today. But these superficial changes have little to do with being authentic centers of science, education, and conservation. In 2016 there are three facts that remain steadfast: Animal welfare in zoos and aquariums remains poor, impact for the conservation of wild animals is...