We often speak about the main goals of zoos and the list always consists of three elements: conservation, education and entertainment. But there may be other expectations and ideas that can shape a zoo. Let’s see 5 zoos based on different concepts.
1. A zoo in the land of three religions - Jerusalem Biblical Zoo (Israel)
Creating a biblical zoo would be unusual anywhere, except in the country of the Bible. Jerusalem Biblical Zoo was founded in 1940 as a tiny zoo and its main goal was to exhibit the species that appear in the Bible. However, it was not easy to form the collection because many biblical animals were already extinct, and others were either not mentioned or the determination of the species was questionable. They then gave up this idea and started to focus on the endangered species of the world when later the zoo reopened in a new place in 1993. Now it is a well reputed biological institution among the community of modern zoos. This example proves that reconsidering the founder idea could lead to a better result...
2. All white - Belgrade Zoo (Serbia)
Belgrade means ‘white city’ in Serbian. This colour got an important role in the collection planning of its zoo which is situated at the foot of Belgrade’s historical fortress, partly in the moat. The director, Vuk Bojović decided to collect albino and white animals, therefore visitors can see white (or light coloured) tigers, lions, wolves, bisons, rheas, wallabies, polar bears, and more. In addition, there are several other unusually coloured animals too, eg. hybrids of polar and brown bears and many colours of wolves. This kind of zoo art is a little different from the main concepts of scientific zoos, but it seems to be working for Belgrade.
3. The Comrade is watching... animals - Pyongyang Central Zoo (North Korea)
What would be better than a zoo that was built for the people in a republic of people? However, some people are more equal than others… and the final result doesn't make us very happy.
The national zoo of North Korea was established in 1959 – naturally at the personal instruction of the leader Kim Il-sung, the main zoo professional. Although the first attraction was an Asian elephant – a gift from Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh – later the Great Leader considered foreign species as capitalist deflection. Since 2001 many exotic animals have arrived, even from South Korea, and the zoo even had a parrot that could say: ‘Long live the Great Leader, Comrade Kim Il-sung!’
As you can see in the video, Kim Jong-un, the present Big Brother of North Korea realized the weak point of capitalist zoos: the annoying noise the crowds of visitors make. Therefore, when the leader took a walk in the zoo, no visitors could be seen around him. As we can see, he enjoyed the visit like a child, but the zoo workers looked a little nervous… Imagine what would have happened if an animal had acted indecently during the presentation! For example, if an animal had produced a big, smelly, capitalist poop in front of the majestic nose of the Great Comrade...
4. Created in the name of creationism - Noah's Ark Zoo Farm (Wraxall, UK)
Zoos were created by man - some people can take this as a religious metaphor, parallel to how the world, including animals and plants, was created and operated by God. It is not surprising that there exists a zoo based on faith to teach visitors about religious ideologies. Naturally, it might feel strange for a visitor to be informed about the differences between apes and humans, when most zoos emphasize the similarities between these species.
We suspect The Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm is not Richard Dawkins’ favourite picnic site. The creationist zoo was founded by Anthony and Christina Bush in 1998 to enlighten the children of the future about the great mistake of the theory of evolution. Though they do not have problems with militant professors of Biology, they do have conflicts with animal rights organisations which are very critical about the establishment.
The zoo is 40 hectares and it is situated near Bristol. In the early years it hosted small domestic animals, but later Mr. and Mrs. Bush started to collect big cats, rhinos and other exotic animals. The zoo gives place to an elephant sanctuary, too, which was built on 8.1 hectares. Although the Bible didn’t mention tapirs, the species must have travelled in the Ark because it is still extant – therefore it can be seen in this zoo.
5. Dead zoo - Gaza’s Khan Younis Zoo (Palestine)
The zoos in Gaza are famous for their creativity. You may remember the donkey that was dyed striped to resemble a zebra. In the centre of the Middle East crisis people have to be inventive – although sometimes it is not enough to survive. Nevertheless, the Khan Younis Zoo developed the strangest idea of zoo collection: exhibiting stuffed animals in the enclosures and cages of living ones.
The advantages of this concept are obvious: dead animals do not need food and water, they do not excrete feces and the veterinary expenses are also low. In addition, they do not bite visitors and they do not refuse the food offered, this way children can stuff snacks into their mouths – it is not a surprise that this zoo is very popular (at least according to the news in 2012).