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Around the World in Eight Weeks: Zoos

Rhona Lewis

Long before zoological gardens (shortened to zoos) there were menageries — private collections of exotic animals owned by aristocrats who wanted to show off their power and wealth. The oldest menagerie discovered is atHierakonpolis,Egypt. It’s about 3,500 years old and it included hippos, hartebeest, elephants, and baboons.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

zooSome menageries were eventually turned into public zoos. Today most zoos don’t keep animals simply to entertain visitors. Instead, zoos have become havens (safe homes) for critically endangered species. Zoos also help to conserve endangered species by studying their habits to understand what threatens them and by breeding the endangered animals and sometimes releasing them into the wild.

There are over 1,500 zoos worldwide. No, we’re not going to visit all of them, but we are going to check out some of the more famous zoos.


San DiegoZoo

The San Diego Zoo has over 4,000 animals, more than any other zoo in theUnited States. It offers several safaris (parklike zoos in which wild animals are allowed to roam free and are observed by visitors riding through the park in cars or buses). You can travel in a long yellow tram, cart, or truck to hand-feed rhino and giraffe. Or you can roll through the Asian savanna on a Segway (a type of motorized scooter). If you dare, choose a flight safari — you’ll get to view animals while sitting in a harness and whizzing down a three-mile zip-line.




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