Zoological Parks

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Zoological Parks


scientific and educational establishments containing wild animals in captivity (in cages or fenced-in areas) or semi-captivity (in large areas under conditions similar to those of the natural environment) for their display, study, and reproduction. Certain zoological parks also exhibit domestic animals, and others, botanical collections (zoobotanical parks, for example, in Paris, Budapest, Brasilia, and Kazan). Greater land area and more diverse and extensive collections of animals generally distinguish zoological parks from zoological gardens.

In addition to displaying the diversity of the animal world, studying its representatives, diffusing knowledge of natural science, and propagandizing ideas of protection of nature, zoological parks are becoming increasingly responsible for the preservation and breeding of rare, disappearing, and already extinct (in nature) species of wild animals: only in zoological parks have the European bison, Père David’s deer, Przhevalsky’s horse, Hawaiian goose, and other species been saved from extinction. Scientific research on acclimatization of animals is being conducted in a number of zoological parks of the USSR; studies are being made of animal diseases and methods of prevention and treatment, as well as of the reproduction of animals and their natural diet and feeding in captivity. Visits are organized for students. Lectures on zoology, exhibits on biological themes, and film showings are arranged. Consultations and events such as Young Naturalist Day, Bird Conservation Day, and Pathfinder Day are held.

Historically, menageries preceded zoological parks. A large zoological park was in existence in Egypt in approximately 1500 B.C. Zoological parks called gardens of knowledge were created in China before 1000 B.C. The first zoological parks appeared in Europe in the mid-18th century in Vienna (1752), Madrid (1774), and Paris (1793). The majority of zoological parks in foreign countries appeared during the 19th century, notably in London (1828), Berlin (1844), Madras (1855), Melbourne (1857), Paris (1858), Frankfurt am Main (1858), Amsterdam (1838), Copenhagen (1859), Budapest (1866), Hamburg (1863), Calcutta (1875), and New York (1865). Some large cities have more than one zoological park: there are two in Tokyo and Chicago, three in Paris, four in New York, and three in London.

Throughout the world in 1972 there were more than 720 zoological parks and zoological gardens (as well as 118 aquariums and oceanariums), including over 250 in Europe, 156 in Asia, 41 in Africa, approximately 260 in North and South America (including more than 190 in the United States), and 14 in Australia and New Zealand.

The first zoological parks appeared in Russia during the second half of the 19th century. The oldest, the Moscow Zoological Park, was founded by the Society for Acclimatization of Animals and Plants in 1864 (in 1971 up to 600 species of animals were maintained in an area of 20 hectares). In 1865 a zoological park was opened in St. Petersburg (in 1971 there were approximately 400 species of animals). In addition, zoological parks were founded in the Askaniia-Nova Sanctuary (1875), in Kharkov (1896), Nikolaev (1901), Kiev (1908; in 1971 there were 350 species in an area of nearly 40 hectares); and Riga (1912; in 1971 there were approximately 400 species in an area of nearly 50 hectares). During the Soviet period zoological parks have been established in Tashkent (1924), Kazan (1924), Rostov-on-Don (1929), Tbilisi (1927), Ashkhabad (1929), Sverdlovsk (1930), Perm’ (1933), Odessa (1936), Alma-Ata (1937), Termez (1938), Kaunas (1938), Karaganda (1938), Yerevan (1940), Baku (1945), Novosibirsk (1947), Dushanbe (1962), and Nal’chik (1966). Zoological parks are found in Grodno (1929), Tallinn (1938), and Kaliningrad (formerly Königsberg, 1895).

Collections of live wild animals constitute the principal material base of all zoological parks. As of 1968 the largest collections were found in the following zoological parks: West Berlin—2,243 species (12,554 specimens), New York (the Bronx Zoo)—-1,019 species (3,104 specimens), Antwerp—1,074 species (5,114 specimens), London—1,548 species (6,727 specimens), San Diego—1,549 species (4,933 specimens), and Amsterdam—1,788 species (8,417 specimens). The majority of modern zoological parks have land areas ranging in size from 10 to several dozen hectares: Berlin (GDR)—160 hectares (ha), London (Whipsnade Park)— 200 ha, Prague—110 ha, New York (the Bronx Zoo)—102 ha, and the zoobotanical park opened in Brasilia in 1960–500 ha.

Many zoological parks issue popular science journals, pamphlets, and proceedings. Specialized international periodicals serve as sources for the exchange of information.


Trudy laboratorii eksperimental’noi biologii Moskovskogo zooparka, vols. 1–5. Moscow, 1926–30.
Moskovskii zoopark: Sb. st. Moscow, 1949.
Moskovskii zoopark: Sb. st. Moscow, 1961.
Moskovskii zoopark: Sb. trudov, issues 1–3. Moscow, 1956–61.
Der zoologische Garten, vols. 20–41. Frankfurt am Main, 1954–71.
International Zoo News, vols. 1–18. Aalten (Netherlands), 1954–71.
International Zoo Yearbook, vols. 1–11. London, 1960–71.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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