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CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION 1.1       Background of the Study

The “zoo” is a monument to a long-standing tradition of people’s fascination with non-human nature. Since the early societies of the Egyptians, Greeks, and Chinese, wild animals have been maintained in captivity in order to satisfy human curiosity with exotica. Most western zoos today, however, embrace far more benevolent values—supporting the conservation of biodiversity through specialized animal breeding, research, and education programs. These aims are intended to move zoos along an evolutionary continuum that will see them eventually transformed from “living natural history cabinets” to “environmental resources centers” (Rabb 1994: 162). ‘The zoo is in such a condition that it’s no longer a zoo, it’s a concentration camp… When I look those animals in the eyes, I am ashamed to be a human being.’ (Tarnavska on Kiev Zoo, Fox News Europe, 2011).

The idea and concept of zoo keeping started in ancient times (Ayodele et al., 1999) with the first animal collections for public amusement being set up in ancient Egypt and China (Fa et al., 2011). The first zoos were originally just a collection of live wild animals on exhibition (menageries) for the amusement of the public (Omonona and Ayodele, 2011). They persisted until the establishment of the first formal in Vienna in 1752 (WAZA, 2006). Zoos at this time were still aimed to satisfy the public’s curiosities. It was not until the late 18th Century that the worth of zoos as centres of scientific research was recognised (Carr and Cohen, 2011). The first scientific zoo and charity was created in 1826 in London; the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). The concern for the animals’ welfare and interest in conservation of species, are recent developments, which started after the Second World War (Knowles, 2003). The World Association of Zoos and Aquarium (WAZA) now provide a common standard of practice to guide zoos worldwide.

The roles of a modern zoo includes education, captive breeding, recreation, scientific research and economic reasons (Omonona and Ayodele, 2011; Baker, 2007; Patrick et al., 2007; WAZA, 2006). A paramount objective for zoo keeping out of these roles is for recreation (Omonona and Ayodele, 2011) serving as places of relaxation and entertainment and provides opportunity for people to satisfy their natural curiosity of seeing different species of animals especially from different areas of the world. People of all ages enjoy visiting zoos because of the joy of seeing different species of animals at a specific place (Uloko and Iwar, 2011; Ayodele and Alarape, 1998; Croke, 1997). Some 1000 zoos and aquariums worldwide receive more than 600 million visitors every year (WAZA, 2005). Visiting zoos is a popular family-oriented leisure activity, usually involving a one-day visit (Ryan and Saward, 2004; Chris and Jan, 2004; Turley, 2001).

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