Zoo History – Ancient Egyptians And Their Zoos

Posted in Wildlife A-Z | December 1, 2010 | Comment Now

Ever wondered about the concept of zoo history? Where do you think was the first ever zoo of the world? Who ran it? What animals found shelter there?

Zoo History And Egypt:

There are reports and studies conducted that suggest that a lot of the wealthy Egyptians used to like to have a garden or a fishpond where they’d house giraffes, waterfowls, elephants and even bears. Sometimes, these wild animals were also tamed and kept as pets. This is said to be true of the case of the lion that belonged to Ramses II. It was said to go into battle with him.

The Egyptians also had a penchant for collecting exotic animals, chickens, rhinos, ostriches, etc. Some of these animals had been indigenous to the country at an earlier date, but weren’t found there anymore. These traders would bring these animals in as part of their official trading expeditions. Some of them were also part of the tribute to Nubia. Whether these tributes found shelter at Nubia, or were sacrificed to the gods is still unsure.

Bears were one species of animals that have been said to attract mankind since time immemorial. The Egyptians used to occasionally import bears, given their scarcity in the region. This has been mentioned in Herodotus’ writings. According to Athenaios, a white bear had been made captive at the house of Ptolemy II, who had a private zoo at Alexandria.

A Little More History:

There are reports that suggest the existence of menageries that were said to exist at Hierkonpolis which is said to date back to the second millennium BC. This was possibly the oldest ever recorded zoo to have made it to the study of zoo history. Many more animal burials have been found that date back to this period; and they’ve uncovered bones of many more animals than had been found at any contemporary site. There were bones of domesticated animals which included cats, dogs, cow and a calf. However, along with this there were remains of wild animals like a baboon, a baby hippo, wild cats and an elephant. The stomach contents of an elephant were preserved, and study on it has revealed that the animal was being fed human food, which would mean that it was raised or kept in captivity.

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