by Alvin Hutchinson
of pamphlets and guide books published by zoos over the past century
has been collected by the National Zoological Park branch of the
Smithsonian Institution Libraries. This online sample of these items,
which includes maps, drawings and photographs of zoos from over
30 states and 40 countries is intended to highlight the value of
this resource for both zoo and cultural historians. Few libraries
or archives today contain materials showing the evolution of zoos
in the modern era to the extent that this collection does.
is clear from these illustrated works that zoological parks have
served many different purposes throughout the years. In the past,
zoos have doubled as recreation areas and amusement parks in addition
to being a showplace for what many once viewed as "nature's
oddballs." Animal rides, sporting events and even ballroom
dancing were held on zoo grounds in an era when visiting a zoo often
meant a day-long trip outside of the city limits.
group of publications illustrates the variety of roles that zoos
have played and the many facets of their operation and promotion.
The guides to wildlife conservation parks and descriptions of early
animal collecting expeditions by zoo curators give some insight
to the roots of modern animal study. Some of the photographs of
animal enclosures, restraint devices and mock theatrics, while unsettling
to some, are an important part of the history of human-animal relations.
The promotional nature of the items in this collection also demonstrates
the history of graphic design, illustration and advertising used
by public and private institutions throughout the years.
of the items in this collection were collected by former National
Zoo directors and staff including Drs. William Mann and Theodore
Reed. Others accumulated over the years as zoos routinely mailed
their publications to and among one another. These materials were
filed and maintained for many years by former National Zoological
Park librarian, Kay Kenyon. Annual reports were retained for each
year and as a result the collection grew enormously. A recent consolidation
of the files resulted in the online exhibit presented here.
more information on this historical collection, or to make an appointment
to visit the NZP library, call (202) 673-4771 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional Resources for "Zoos: a historical perspective"
zoo images from the Library of Congress' American Memory web
The modern ark : the story of zoos : past, present, and future.
New York : Scribner, c1997.
worlds, new animals : from menagerie to zoological park in the
nineteenth century / / edited by R.J. Hoage and William A.
Deiss ; with a foreword by Michael H. Robinson.
Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996.
and aquarium history : ancient animal collections to zoological
gardens / / edited by Vernon N. Kisling, Jr.
Boca Raton, Fla. : CRC Press, c2001.
The evolution of the modern zoo.
International-Zoo-News 1993 October-November; 40(7): 27-34;
The origin and growth of zoos.
Endangered-Species. 1999 Summer; 1(1): 16-19
Colonial menageries and the exchange of exotic faunas.
Archives-of-Natural-History. 1998 October; 25(3): 303-320
The earliest zoos and gardens
Scientific-American. 1999 July; 281(1): 48-55
menageries - Why and how zoos disappear.
International Zoo News 2002 April-May; 49(3): 151-63; No