The Hagenbeck concept

Carl Hagenbeck was an animal entrepreneur. He supplied animals to zoos and was also an animal trainer. He pioneered many display and exhibit techniques. Hagenbeck initially gained his reputation by exhibiting people and animals in traveling exhibits. On October 6, 1878 over 62,000 people visited the Berlin Zoo to see his traveling exhibit of Nubians from the Sudan, Laplanders, Eskimos, Kalmucks, Tierra del Fuego natives, and Buddhist priests. There were also elephants, camels, giraffes, and rhinos, but it was the people who were most popular. These human zoos made Hagenbeck a fortune. In 1900 he bought a potato farm on which he wanted to build a wild animal park. Hagenbeck is credited as being the inventor of the cage without bars. He put his animals in moated enclosures. The enclosures were planted with trees and shrubs and decorated with artificial rockwork which was very pleasing to the visitor and gave the illusion that the animals were free-ranging. Their captivity was well hidden. Hagenbeck was a master at the placement of moats and hedges to create an exhibit illusion that placed predator and prey together. He was not that concerned with scientific study or educating the audience, his priorities were aesthetics and beauty. These exhibits showcased large mammals with a geographic theme. Hagenbeck's concepts are still used in exhibit design today.

A zoo educator teaches children about endangered cats. (Photo by © James L. Amos/Corbis. Reproduced by permission.)

of putting humans and our biology in the context of the rest of life. Robinson (1996) describes this technique as emphasizing "the complex specializations in a host of dependencies, interdependencies and interactions with invertebrates, plants, protozoa, bacteria, viruses and so on to which mammals have evolved." He further states "it is time to end the isolationism of simply exhibiting mammals against a naturalistic backdrop."

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