Savages and Beasts

Savages and Beasts
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  • ISBN-13: 9780801889752
  • ISBN: 0801889758
  • Publication Date: 2008
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press


Rothfels, Nigel


To modern sensibilities, early zoos seem to have been unnatural places where animals led miserable lives in cramped, wrought-iron cages. Today zoo animals typically wander in open spaces that resemble natural habitats and are enclosed, not by bars, but by moats, cliffs, and other landscape features. Savages and Beasts traces the origins of the modern zoo in the efforts of nineteenth-century German animal entrepreneur Carl Hagenbeck. How did seemingly enlightened ideas about the role of zoos and the nature of animal captivity develop out of the simple business of placing exotic creatures on public display? "This is much more than a history of Hagenbeck's many successes. It is an historical explanation for why the environments of zoos today are meant to mask the human character of the places in which animals are forced to live their unnatural lives." -- American Historical Review "A fine read, in which good use of picture archives has complemented the writer's extensive documentary research." -- New Scientist "Rothfels is attuned to the ironies pervading zoos' mediation of people and animals and understands that zoos operate according to entrepreneurial rather than environmental principles." -- Chronicle of Higher Education "Convincingly argues that the image of Hagenbeck as a modern-day Noah, a great animal lover trying to educate the public about the wonders of nature, belies the basic nature of Hagenbeck's enterprise... Rothfels raises questions about past practices of exhibiting animals (and people) and about what zoos of the present are all about." -- Journal of the History of Biology "A fascinating if disturbing tale of animal and human display." -- German Studies Review Nigel Rothfels received his Ph.D. in history from Harvard University and is the director of the Office of Undergraduate Research at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He has been the recipient of fellowships from the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies at Princeton University, the Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is the editor of the interdisciplinary collection Representing Animals.Rothfels, Nigel is the author of 'Savages and Beasts', published 2008 under ISBN 9780801889752 and ISBN 0801889758.

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