By Hayleigh Gowans
This week’s column has to do with a popular summer activity for people of all ages — going to the zoo or an aquarium.
There is a long history of displaying animals for the viewing pleasure of humans. According to a timeline on CBC Radio Canada (cbc.ca/doczone/features/history-of-zoos), the earliest known zoo dates back to 3500 BC in Hierakonpolis, Egypt, once a large urban center. In 1000 BC, Chinese Emperor Wen Wang founded the Garden of Intelligence, which covered 1,500 acres with animals housed in metal cages in a park setting, and has a name which alludes to the educational potential of establishments like these.
Jump to 1752, and the oldest zoo still in existence, the Tiergarten Schonbrunn, was opened in Vienna, Austria. In 1814, the first North American zoo called Down’s Zoological Gardens was opened in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In 1853, the first public aquarium was opened in the London Zoo. The first zoo that opened in the United States was the Philadelphia Zoo, which opened in 1890 after being delayed 15 years due to the Civil War.
In 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums was founded and establishment must pass their inspection for accreditation. Since then, many zoos have opened, some with an emphasis on a more safari type experience where you can see animals roam in open spaces similar to their natural habitats.
In recent years, zoos and aquariums have been scrutinized over the treatment of their animals, and some have made changes to accommodate the animals to live a life closed to what they would in the wild. While I often have ethical questions regarding the captivity of animals in climates that are not their natural habitats, I think overall people are going to continue to go to zoos as long as they’re there.
Many of the caretakers of the animals do it out of a love, fascination and respect for the animals they care for. If you are considering a trip to a zoo or aquarium, I would suggest doing some online searching to see if there have been any reports of ethical misconduct and decide from there if you want to visit that establishment. Some zoos and aquariums are responsible and some are not, you just have to decide for yourself if a specific one is something you want to support.
Once you get past the ethical dilemma of going to a zoo or aquarium, there are some things to keep in mind if you do decide to go. Here are some rules of etiquette I found from research online:
Many zoos have their own etiquette and rules of conduct, which can be found on their websites.
Overall, I think zoos or aquariums can be an educational and fascinating place for people of all ages to see animals they might not normally see, and can help bring awareness to environmentalism and the rescue, rehabilitation and release of certain species that may be threatened.
If you have any questions or to suggest topics for discussion, please email me at email@example.com. Until next time, mind your modern manners!
I am a reporter for the Eagle Bulletin and Cazenovia Republican at Eagle News. I report on topics ranging from town and village government, business, news and features. I am a 2014 graduate of the Roy H. Park School of Communications and have a degree in Journalism and a minor in Psychology.