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A Different Nature: The Paradoxical World of Zoos and Their Uncertain Future [Paperback]

David Hancocks
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 35.50 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Many people find zoos saddening: the animals often seem depressed and understimulated in dreary, unnatural settings. Hancocks (Animals and Architecture), an architect and director of the Open Range Zoo in Melbourne, Australia, confirms the accuracy of those impressions. He became concerned about the plight of zoo animals when, as a university student, he looked into a gorilla's intelligent eyes: "I walked away from London Zoo that day... feeling confused and depressed." This brilliantly researched and persuasive book traces the sociology of animal captivity back to Paleolithic times, when "wild animal ownership bestowed prestige and power." Speculating that the first zoo appeared in Sumeria 4,300 years ago, Hancocks explores zoo design, ecology and history worldwide. He praises certain model institutions, including the Bronx Zoo, Emmen Zoo in Holland and Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo. Otherwise, he stridently criticizes many zoo practices, such as "disjointed exhibits," cramped conditions and even bad cafeteria food. "My proposal is to uninvent zoos as we know them and to create a new type of institution, one that... engenders respect for all animals and that interprets a holistic view of Nature." Zoos shouldn't solely provide entertainment, he says, but should educate visitors about animals and encourage preservation of their natural habitats. They should also hold a multitude of species, not just the most popular or beautiful ones. Though the somewhat academic text loses steam midway, Hancocks's passion for creating humane environments for captive animals revives it at the end. Photos.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The capture and display of wild animals, an ancient and universal phenomenon, embodies a dichotomy, Hancocks explains in this engrossing history of zoos and their role in society: humans revere nature yet seek to dominate and control it, a doomed endeavor that has caused widespread environmental degradation. Working from the premise that zoo design reflects "our attitudes to and relationship with nature," Hancocks, director of the Open Range Zoo at Werribee, Australia, contrasts the horrific massacres of thousands of wild animals in the Colosseum with Montezuma's splendidly humane zoo, then chronicles the first scientifically oriented zoos in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England and Germany and their American offshoots. His critique of the miseries associated with their museumlike warehousing of living creatures is electrifying, the perfect lead-in to his discussion of the slow realization that naturalistic habitats are essential to zoo animals' health and happiness. What zoos must do now, Hancocks concludes, is help educate people about natural systems, biodiversity, and the pressing need for preservation. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Brilliant. Its clear and unpretentious language and Hancocks' evident passion for and knowledge of his subject made it one of the best books I have read in a long while."-Tim Murray, The Age (Melbourne) An "excellent survey."-BBC Wildlife

From the Publisher

More Reviews:

"[A] brilliant, disturbing, and hopeful history not just of zoos but of human relations with nature." -- Landscape Architecture --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

"A well-written and provocative, opinion-rich account of zoos, their history, and their goals and purposes. Hancocks has earned the right to speak authoritatively about these subjects, thanks to his tenure as director of two leading U. S. zoos. This book will appeal to general readers and to all persons interested in zoos and their role in conservation and education."—John Alcock, author of Animal Behavior: An Evolutionary Approach

"Giraffes, elephants, gorillas, snakes, and toucans respond poorly to the usual conventions of human architecture. Zoo architects usually respond no less poorly to the needs of animals. David Hancocks draws on a lifetime's experience working as a zoo director and zoo architect to explore this dilemma, and offers a compelling vision for the future. This is an important book for those interested in conservation as well as for zoo and museum buffs."—William Conway, former President and General Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Bronx Zoo

"For over two decades David Hancocks has fervently tried to reform the fundamental character and mission of zoos. This book is his most thorough analysis of what is wrong with them and his most detailed and compelling plea for improvement. Every conscientious zoo administrator, curator, and keeper should read it from cover to cover with an open mind. Professionals in botanical gardens, museums, and nature parks should also consider this treatise because Hancocks advocates that a fusion of all of these institutions into a new entity better positioned to interpret the entire biosphere."-Mark A. Dimmitt, Director of Natural History, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

From the Back Cover

"A well-written and provocative, opinion-rich account of zoos, their history, and their goals and purposes. Hancocks has earned the right to speak authoritatively about these subjects, thanks to his tenure as director of two leading U. S. zoos. This book will appeal to general readers and to all persons interested in zoos and their role in conservation and education."-John Alcock, author of Animal Behavior: An Evolutionary Approach "Giraffes, elephants, gorillas, snakes, and toucans respond poorly to the usual conventions of human architecture. Zoo architects usually respond no less poorly to the needs of animals. David Hancocks draws on a lifetime's experience working as a zoo director and zoo architect to explore this dilemma, and offers a compelling vision for the future. This is an important book for those interested in conservation as well as for zoo and museum buffs."-William Conway, former President and General Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Bronx Zoo "For over two decades David Hancocks has fervently tried to reform the fundamental character and mission of zoos. This book is his most thorough analysis of what is wrong with them and his most detailed and compelling plea for improvement. Every conscientious zoo administrator, curator, and keeper should read it from cover to cover with an open mind. Professionals in botanical gardens, museums, and nature parks should also consider this treatise because Hancocks advocates that a fusion of all of these institutions into a new entity better positioned to interpret the entire biosphere."-Mark A. Dimmitt, Director of Natural History, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

David Hancocks lives in Melbourne, Australia. He is Director of the Open Range Zoo, at Werribee, and Director of Planning for the Zoological Parks and Gardens Board, Victoria, Australia. He is author of Animals and Architecture (1971) and Master Builders of the Animal World (1973).
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