The rhinoceros brought by the Compagnie Des Indies in 1770 cost
Louis XV 5,388 livres (pounds).
The first tiger to
tour the Italian peninsula stopped at Turin in 1478. In the
eighteenth century a rhino named Clara provoked the sale of
rhinoceros prints, engravings and pamphlets, and caused ‘a la
rhino’ ribbons, harnesses, bonnets, wigs and even hairstyles
to be invented. The wild can also be a fantasy in concrete.
princely menageries surfaced in France during the Enlightenment.
It led to their disappearance during the Revolution and to the
creation, under the aegis of the naturalists at Jardin des
Plantes (Garden of Plants) in Paris, of a new type of
establishment intended to serve the entire nation rather than
the select few. The model was repeated all over Europe. There
was dis-emphasis on ferocious species that exemplified
devastating cruelty, supporting the belief that nature
sanctioned the rule of force, illustrated and legitimised
The importance of
zoological gardens in fashionable society explains their
foundation in parks in wealthy areas (Regent’s Park in London,
the Villa Borghese at Rome). They sometimes even directly
provoked the transformation of surrounding land into residential
sectors for the aristocracy and bourgeoisie. Zoological gardens
were thus vectors of property development. Having become a tool
of town planning, zoos were considered to be "the most
distinctive mark of culture a city has to offer".
Between 1866 and
1886 Carl Hagenbeck exported around 700 leopards, 1,000 lions,
400 tigers, 1,000 bears, 800 hyenas, 300 elephants, 70
rhinoceroses from India, Java and Sumatra; 300 camels, 150
giraffes, 600 antelopes, tens of thousands of monkeys, thousands
of crocodiles, boas and pythons, and more than a hundred
thousand birds from Africa. Around 1900, England, Germany,
Belgium and Portugal made initial efforts to protect the species
threatened with extinction, reserves were created where hunting
was banned and hunting permits were introduced.
was generally classified as "colonial commodity",
ethnological objects as "life-sized fragments of the
Empire". Like the rhino fashion a century before, the sale
of an elephant to the American Barnum Circus was felt by the
newspapers in UK to be a treasonable act because he came from
Exposition Coloniale in Paris was the high point of the zoo as a
colonial showcase for three almost symbolic reasons. First, it
was organised by an emblematic figure, the conqueror of Morocco.
Second, the idea of a temporary zoo at the exhibition to reveal
the splendours of the colonies’ wildlife. Third, the
organisation of the temporary zoo was entrusted not to vets of
the menagerie but to a journalist and sometime lion-tamer.
between the zoo, which conforms in its use of barriers as a
radical break between man and animal, and circus, which fosters
confusion by humanising the latter, did not truly come into play
until the mid-1990s.
The keeping of
animals in captivity provoked no condemnation on the centuries
because it seemed natural in society founded on inequality. The
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Towards Animals, both in
the UK and France, does not advocate the re-integration of the
zoo population in suitable forests.
The spread of car
ownership has led to the growth of safari parks and
"imitation freedom" of animals.
two European bisons (buffalo), of eight condors (American
vulture) out of 39 bred in captivity, and Arabian oryx (deer) is
an attempt on the part of zoos at the preservation of endangered
The ideal for the
future is Empty cage by Giles Aillaud, an illustration on the
title cover of the book.
The hope is that
libraries would come forward to buy this rather expensive book
— the envy of historians, artists and critics.