“WHERE THE WILD THINGS WERE:” PRESERVATION STRATEGIES FOR PRE-1980 OUTDOOR ZOOLOGICAL ANIMAL EXHIBITS IN THE UNITED STATES
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Type of Work158 pages
ProgramMA in Historic Preservation
RightsTo view a complete copy of this manuscript please contact Goucher College Special Collections & Archives at email@example.com or (410) 337-6075.
SubjectsHistoric preservation -- Theses
John Berger in About Looking noted “Public zoos came into existence at the beginning of the period which was to see the disappearance of animals from daily life.”1 Since the 1792 founding of a Paris public menagerie animal exhibit design evolved from small barred cages into today’s landscape immersive environments. The rationale behind these exhibits has progressed from its public entertainment roots into one of educational outreach. American zoos do consider historic preservation of animal buildings with architectural merit yet give little thought to removing outdoor exhibits of the same period. This thesis asks: could historic preservation of pre-1980 outdoor animal exhibits serve a role in fulfilling a zoo’s mission statement? The topic is relevant due to the significant loss of pre-1980 exhibitry as zoos build in the Landscape Immersion-style. Older animal exhibits are cultural landscapes representative of the “state of the art” and were designed based on the available knowledge of that period. Many Association of Zoos and Aquariums member zoos have between two and ten actively used pre-1980 exhibits on their grounds. These exhibits may be closed to public viewing or have been altered to alleviate behavioral abnormalities associated with their continued use. So, can a case be made for the preservation of these pre-1980 zoological exhibits? The answer in most cases is no. In those rare cases where preservation may occur, what are the challenges facing such preservation? The answer lies in finding a balance between economics, public expectations, institutional controls, and animal rights groups.