Comedian Rocky Laporte has a funny bit about the Staten Island Zoo. He describes the zoo as only having four birds and a squirrel. Laporte says it is almost as if two guys got together and said, “I have a dog and you have a bird, let’s have a zoo. Call up Jimmy and tell him to bring his cat.”
Hearing that got me thinking about the beginning of zoos. Was the very first zoo really started by a couple of guys who were sitting around and decided to combine their animals? It seems like an odd idea to just gather a bunch of animals together for people to look at.
According to Wikipedia, the oldest know zoological collection dates back all the way to 3500 BC.
This was revealed in 2009 during excavations at Hierakonpolis, Egypt. Apparently the original collection of animals included hippos, hartebeest, elephants, baboons, and wildcats.
What no dinosaurs?
The oldest zoo in the world still in existence can be found in Vienna, Austria. The Tiergarten Schonbrunn was constructed in 1752 at the request of the Holy Roman Emperon Francis I.
The zoo was initially reserved only for the imperial family, but was eventually made public in 1765.
The first zoo in the United States was the Central Park Zoo which opened in 1860.
Wikipedia describes many famous collectors of animals throughout history and I was surprised to find one name on the list, King Solomon.
Is that the same King Solomon who was one of the wisest men in the bible?
Who knew that part of his wisdom was to collect animals?
That got me wondering if zoos are mentioned in the Bible. A quick search using my Bible app found 0 results for the word zoo. But I guess Noah kind of had a floating zoo didn’t he?
I am amazed that zoos are so old. It kind of sounds like Rocky Laporte isn’t that far off in his assessment of bored people deciding to put some animals together and call it a zoo.
Photo credit: Wikipedia