the slightest encouragement, however, I might reel off a few
of the memorable scenes encountered in my rambles through some
40 zoos of Europe and America:
King penguins strolling along a footpath in Switzerland's
engaging zoo in Basel, their human escort trailing at a distance
out of regard for their vast dignity.
Toronto Zoo's great tank enclosed by glass walls through which
one peers, a nose away, at huge polar bears frolicking underwater.
* An Amazon
jungle scene at the Bronx Zoo's World of Birds, where dazzling
creatures streak about when they are not taking shelter from
a simulated tropical downpour.
''Exotarium'' at the Frankfurt Zoo, with such spectacular
panoramic displays as a glass-enclosed replica of Antarctica,
where penguins waddle on real ice.
size, probably no country is richer in zoos of quality than
England. The traveler there can choose from a rich field,
starting, for my part, with Whipsnade Park, some 30 miles
a complex managed by the Zoological Society of London, these
500 acres of what was once rolling farmland can be reached
by car or a short train trip to Dunstable. Once there, you
can drive or ride the ''Whipsnade and Unfolozi Railway.''
But it is best to walk because you will be almost as excited
by the creatures on the loose as by those that are penned
up - if anything can be considered ''penned up'' in a paddock
as large as some entire metropolitan zoos. At any turn you
may encounter a muntjac -a deer the size of a small dog with
a bark to match - a pleasant and harmless prairie dog or a
Patagonian cavy, or even a Chinese water deer with a wispy
Fu Manchu mustache.
the park remarkable is the combination of the restful rural
vistas of Bedfordshire with one of the most sophisticated
collections of wild animals in the world. Besides being a
fine showplace, Whipsnade serves a double purpose. It backs
up the London Zoo with a remarkably fertile breeding program,
while at the same time relieving it of excess herd animals.
has supplied zoos around the world with cheetahs, which until
1960 were not bred in captivity at all because zoo people
were still unaware of the inhibitions produced in that species
of loners by any mingling of the sexes except, specifically,
for sex. Other breeding successes, whose end results are likewise
a pleasure to see, are white rhinos, Mongolian wild horses,
Chilean flamingos, Manchurian cranes, musk oxen, polar bears,
and pygmy hippos.
almost as out of the way in zoological centers, I would urge
a visit to the town of Chester, some 18 miles out of Liverpool.
A jewel in a fair setting, the Chester Zoo is a park in which
the plant and animal kingdoms enhance each other. Not only
are the pleasant gardens of England to be seen on every hand,
changing with the seasons, but plants and flowers appropriate
to the animals' various habitats are to be found even within
their enclosures. The Tropical House, for reptiles, insects,
and free-flying birds (chimpanzees and gorillas accommodated
in rainy weather) is lush with palms, hibiscus, and bougainvillea.
In the Elephant House, but beyond the reach of its tenants,
are plants selected not only for decoration but for a fragrance
that dilutes the bouquet otherwise noticeable in elephant
tradition of ''zoos without bars'' - Chester was a pioneer
- chimps and even rare Mountain gorillas are to be seen, at
least in fair weather, on grassy islands separated from the
public only by moats, the arrangement taking advantage of
the primates' fear of water. The elephants, too, enjoy an
island-like acre while free to retreat from a sometimes unkind
climate to the greenery of their indoor quarters. ''If I were
an elephant and were given my choice of where to live,'' an
American zoo authority once observed, ''I'd go to Chester.''
''must'' in England is the Wildlife Preservation Trust on
the Channel island of Jersey, sometimes known as the Durrell
Zoo, for Gerald Durrell, the great nature writer and its guiding
spirit. The Trust is a haven and behavioral research center
for small animals in danger of disappearing from the earth
- for examples, the hutia, a Jamaican rodent, the big-eyed
lemurs from Madagascar, and the waldrapp, a rare ibis with
a curved beak and irridescent plumes.
some observers will be shocked, perhaps rightly, at the omission
of their own favorites - Edinburgh, perhaps, or Marwell in
Hampshire, or Bristol, or any of a dozen others. They can
make good cases, particularly, I think, for Bristol, which
is widely admired for the beauty of its gardens as well as
a superior collection that includes the rare okapi and the
large a stretch as the Continent I will have to be even more
stringently selective. For reasons perhaps best left to psychologists,
zoos of the northern climes are more imaginative, more charged
with concern and affection for wild creatures, than those
of more southerly regions. I would propose three Continental
zoos as basic, with several others to be seen if at all possible.
The three are in Rotterdam, Frankfurt, and Basel.
new Blijdorp Zoo had hardly gone into construction when World
War II broke out. A single bomb so obliterated the justcompleted
sea lions' pool that nothing was ever found of its inhabitants.
But now a richly landscaped, selectively populated zoo, Blijdorp
has succeeded in offsetting even the frequently wet Dutch
weather. Its main area is a great sheltered structure, with
reptiles and amphibians in the center, flanked on one side
by quarters for the great apes and pachyderms and on the other
by a bright walk-in aviary.
from its superior layout, the zoo is notable for having bred
enough orangutans to supply other zoos with specimens even
after the species is gone from the wild, which threatens to
be the case in the near future. Since the war Blijdorp has
also produced so many tigers - Sumatran and Siberian as well
as the more familiar Bengal -that while the species is dying
out in nature, the zoo is obliged to put most of its own specimens
on birth control pills.
east, few zoos can match Frankfurt's for a detailed concern
with the needs, not to say desires, of their tenants. The
sharp-eyed visitor will notice, for example, besides the usual
variety of jungle-gym equipment for the apes and monkeys,
numerous small touches that can make such a difference in
their lives. Fresh green branches are supplied daily in order
to counter boredom rather than for nourishment, each branch
being good for protracted probing and chewing. As in many
good zoos, currants or raisins are sometimes hidden in the
straw floor-covering of enclosures to serve the same purpose.
Similarly, I have seen young monkeys at Frankfurt enjoying,
as much as human babies, the excitement of playing peekaboo
by covering and uncovering their heads with paper bags provided
for the pastime. Other such touches are the slide for playful
otters and a degree of humidity in the aviaries that allows
hummingbirds to bathe in the dew on the leaves.
Rhine city of Basel, where France, Germany and Switzerland
meet, inhabitants talk fondly of their ''Zolli,'' or little
zoo - short for Der Zoologische Garten. The diminutive is
a measure of the well-deserved popularity of this physically
minor but zoologically major establishment.
casual visitor sees at Basel is a green and pleasant park
of a sparkling cleanliness that would be remarkable anywhere
but in Switzerland. Sanitation, a greater than common attention
to diets, and careful studies in animal behavior have combined
to allow Zolli to break numerous records. First to reproduce
pygmy hippos and the disappearing Indian one-horned rhinoceros,
it has carried both species into successive generations when
few other zoos could breed them at all. It has had similar
success with flamingos, orangutans, siamang gibbons, spectacled
bears and, most of all, gorillas. The large family group of
these greatest of the apes is alike an attraction for ethologists,
studying animal behavior, and zoo-goers in search of an hour's
Europe's many other zoos that would more than repay a visit,
including a few that I know only by professional reputation,
are those in Munich, Stuttgart, Hanover, and West Berlin.
Not least is that father of all the free, open, cageless zoos
in the world - the Stellingen Gardens near Hamburg. It is
still notable for those ingenious optical illusions - the
result of landscaping - that allow the viewer to imagine that
animals only relatively free in fact are so free as to be
almost on top of him.
don't neglect Zolli's excellent neighboring zoo in nearby
Zurich. Belgium's small but highly regarded collection in
Antwerp gets high ratings, as does the Zurich Zoo, for a strong
scientific bent and an admirable role in the community's educational
Paris? Copenhagen? Let's just say that their zoos cannot quite
compete with the myriad other attractions of those fabulous
cities. I would even include the London Zoo in this category
were it not for the superb scientific facilities that go along
with good but not spectacular exhibits.
own side of the Atlantic the great number of zoos to pick
from makes the task of selection even harder than in Europe.
Directing a foreign zoo buff, with time but not distance a
consideration, I should point him without fail to the New
York Zoological Society's Bronx Zoo, to the Arizona-Sonora
Desert Museum, 14 miles west of Tucson, and to the San Diego
Zoo and its Wild Animal Park.
Bronx Zoo, one of the world's greatest, has been enjoying
a renaissance. For a decade scarcely a year has passed without
some spectacular addition to this park, less than 40 minutes
by express bus from midtown Manhattan.
down, for example, from the open ''Bengali Express,'' a slow-moving
monorail, a visitor to the Wild Asia exhibit sees what looks
more like a stretch of the Irrawady than the Bronx River,
its banks lined in turn by slices of India, Burma, and points
east. Roaming free as far as the eye can see are, first, axis
deer and barasingha, followed in the ''South China Hills''
by Formosan sika deer, all but extinct in the wild. Then comes
the ''Tiger Machan,'' from which Siberian tigers can be seen
bathing in a stream or swatting their pesky cubs. Asian elephants
are on the loose at the next turn, and beyond them the prehistoric-looking
Indian rhinoceros, which sometimes ambles to within a few
feet of the leisurely paced train.
educational brilliance of its amusing graphics as well as
the marvels exhibited, including the feeding of newly hatched
birds, few shows in the zoo world surpass the World of Birds,
already mentioned. And these are only two of a dozen first-rate
innovations at the Bronx, not least of them a newly opened
Children's Zoo where do-it-yourself activity allows young
customers to play at being prairie dogs, fennec foxes, spiders,
and turtles - all with appropriate equipment.
the most distinctive zoo in the United States goes under the
name of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. It is a combination
of museum, zoo, botanic garden, and nature trail - all in
a desert setting against a backdrop of saguaro cactus 40 and
50 feet tall, desert blooms, and mountain ranges that seem
to change color from hour to hour.
the features of this regional center are an underground tunnel
for burrowing creatures, seen through glass panels in the
tunnel walls; natural displays of such local fauna as black
bear, bobcat, puma, prairie dog, and Mexican wolf, and a newly
completed Earth Sciences Center, an expertly replicated cave
that displays and interprets the geophysical history of the
region, complete with stalactites, genuine minerals, and live
bats. One of a kind, Arizona-Sonora is not to be missed.
a zoo-fancier, American or foreign, professional or amateur,
the San Diego Zoo is the very model of what a zoo should be
- visually, scientifically, and for plain good fun. Actually,
two animal collections make up the complex, and the visitor
owes it to himself to see both: the 128-acre zoo in the heart
of San Diego and the 1,800-acre Wild Animal Park in the San
Pasqual Valley some 30 miles to the north.
enjoy a climate that is the envy of almost every other zoo
in the world - balmy the year round, with an annual average
of 330 days of sunshine. This happy circumstance permits permanent
open-air quarters for practically all the animals, with none
of the worry and expense of seasonal shifts and changes. It
also permits botanical displays that are unsurpassed anywhere.
The flowers and trees range from orchids, palms and aloes
all the way up to giant redwoods, besides such popular favorites
as magnolia, flowering peach, and crabapple. The park's flora
are in fact worth more than all its fauna combined.
very entrance - which momentarily appears to be a lush stage
set rather than an exhibit of live pink flamingos against
a tropical background - the eye is won over. Particularly
charming, it seems to me, are the shy koalas, models for the
teddy bear, enjoying the privacy of a tree refuge, yet not
too hidden to be seen munching away on their home-grown eucalyptus.
Likewise the lofty walk-through aviary, the big-eyed lemurs,
and the view, in the nursery, of infant primates downing their
Animal Park is a considerable contrast. While its purpose
is to supply San Diego and many other zoos with specimens,
the show it puts on is, for the most part, spectacular. As
open as a zoo can get, it has pioneered in mixing animals,
as far as possible as they are mixed in nature. From the two-car
monorail that circles the project, one sees, as on the Serengeti
plain, zebras, wildebeest, gazelles, impalas and ostriches
- living and moving in natural groups. Thanks to hidden barriers,
the viewer is unaware of any separateness when he then comes
suddenly upon a troop of white rhinos or a pride of lions
or giraffes galloping off in their stately manner, showing
the way to gazelles and leaping impalas. On a space scale
that other zoos can only dream of, it is without doubt one
of the greatest shows in the zoo world.
of America's fine zoos are not dwelt on here, it is not for
lack of excellence. Many are compressed into small areas in
the midst of cities, where educationally they are most needed
but where lack of space is a constant inhibition. Yet an astonishing
number are firstrate.
Zoo in Washington is surely among the foremost of these, and
so are Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo, with its remarkable collection
of primates, and the Philadelphia Zoo, which boasts a new
and glamorous ''Bear Country.'' Brookfield Zoo, on Chicago's
outskirts, is notable for its new and gigantic Tropic World,
in which gorillas, birds and monkeys are to be viewed indoors,
yet without the disadvantage of glass or bars, the animals
separated by moats from the indoor jungle paths that accommodate
their observers. Superior in other ways are the fine collections
in, among other cities, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Milwaukee,
Oklahoma City, Omaha, Seattle, and Los Angeles.
the newer and more innovative zoos are those of Minnesota's
Apple Valley, just south of Minneapolis, where four multilevel
trails take the walker into four worlds of animal life, each
with the appropriate setting, fauna and even climate, and
Topeka's rebuilt zoo, with its Tropical Rain Forest under
a geodesic dome that allows natural light to fall on its varied
Amazonian scenes. Miami's still uncompleted Metrozoo, given
the climate, a totally cageless plan, and its informative
ceramic pictographs, promises to be another national gem.
- and no doubt a dozen others - should be visited not only
by zoo-lovers but by zoo critics, especially those who still
think of zoos as the wretched small-caged ''bastilles'' that
they may have known and smelled in their childhood; who are
not aware perhaps that the really good modern zoo is even
now the last best hope for preserving such adornments to this
planet as the tiger and the snow leopard, the condor and the
okapi, the gorilla and the giant panda. Arizona-Sonora Desert
Museum Hours: summer - 7 A.M. to sundown; winter - 8:30 A.M.
to sundown. Location: Fourteen miles west of Tucson on Route
9. Admission: $5; $2.25 juniors; 75 cents children. Acreage:
12. Special features: Desert flora and fauna, area geohistory
at Earth Sciences Center. Basel Hours: summer - 8 A.M. to
6:30 P.M.; winter - 8 to 5:30. Location: Binningerstrasse
40, Basel. Admission: $3; $1.25 children. Acreage: 29.6 Special
features: Flamingos, pygmy hippopotamuses, large family of
gorillas. Bronx Hours: 10 A.M. to 5 P.M.; 10 to 5:30 Monday
and holidays. Location: Fordham Road and the Bronx River Parkway.
Admission: $2.50; 75 cents children; no charge Tuesday, Wednesday
or Thursday. Acreage: 264. Special features: World of Birds,
Wild Asia, Children's Zoo. The world's largest urban zoo.
Durrell Hours: 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. Location: Northeast corner
of Jersey in the Channel Islands. Admission: $3; $1.40 children.
Acreage: 23. Special features: More formally the Wildlife
Preservation Trust, it is a haven for small endangered species.
Frankfurt Hours: summer - 8 A.M. to 7 P.M.; October - 8 to
6; winter - 8 to 5. Location: Am Tiergarten. Admission: $2.50;
$1 children. Acreage: 27 Special features: The Exotarium,
with rare birds and fish and Antarctic replica. National Hours:
summer - grounds 8 A.M. to 8 P.M., buildings - 10 to 6; winter
-grounds 8 to 6, buildings 10 to 4:30. Location: 3000 Connecticut
Avenue, N.W. Acreage: 167. Special features: Chinese pandas
and white tigers. San Diego Hours: summer - 8:30 A.M. to 6
P.M.; winter - 9 to 5. Location: Zoo Place, Balboa Park. Admission:
$4.75; $1 children. Acreage: 100. Special features: Opening
Sept. 25, the Whittier South East Asia Exhibit, with orangutans,
gibbons, langurs, pygmy chimpanzees and exotic birds. Wild
Animal Park - Hours: summer - 9 A.M. to 9 P.M.; winter - 9
to 4. Location: Highway 78, 30 miles north of San Diego. Admission:
$5.25; $3.50 children. Acreage: 1,800. Special features: 5-mile
narrated monorail tour, three free animal shows daily. Toronto
Hours: summer - 9:30 A.M. to 7 P.M.; winter - 10 to 4:30.
Location: Highway 401 East, Meadowvale Road. Admission: $3.20;
$1.20 youths; 80 cents children. Acreage: 710. Special features:
Asian, African animals and glass-enclosed area for polar bears.
Whipsnade Hours: 10 A.M. to 6 P.M.; Sunday and banking holidays
- 10 to 7. Location: Dunstable, 30 miles from London. Admission:
$4.30; $2.20 children. Acreage: 500. Special features: Cheetahs,
white rhinoceroses, polar bears.