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New York Daily Photo: Feeding at the Zoo
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Monday, 18 June 2007

Feeding at the Zoo

This is feeding time for the penguins at the Central Park Zoo. The public seems to be endlessly fascinated with penguins - their upright walk, lack of fear of humans and tuxedo-like plumage has endeared them to the public worldwide. They have become a virtual mascot of cuteness. Wikipedia even has a separate entry "Penguins in popular culture." The penguin and puffin house is one of a handful of habitats in the Central Park Zoo, one of the oldest in the United States, which originated in 1864 as the Central Park Menagerie. In more recent times, the trend has been to move away from the older menagerie style of zoo, where animals are caged for collection, exhibition and for entertainment purposes. By the 1980s, the Central Park Zoo was in very poor shape - a 1981 New York Times opinion called for closing of the zoo (Let's Do Away with the Central Park Zoo by Alice Herrington). In 1983 the zoo closed for complete renovation and reopened in 1988. The new design, which was applauded, featured more natural habitats - the trend in North American and European zoos. The focus is now more on conservation of endangered species, research and education, and secondarily for entertainment of visitors. Of course these natural habitats are still quite limited in size - the Central Park Zoo is small and does not permit the type of environments seen in places like the Bronx, Philadelphia or San Diego zoos. But it is a dramatic improvement - I had the unfortunate privilege to see the zoo in its former incarnation. Fortunately, my memories of it are quite indistinct ...


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