Cages to Miniature Landscapes – The History of Zoos in Europe.

The history of zoos is long and varied. European cities began exhibiting exotic animals systematically in the second half of the 19th century. With their rows of individual cages, these “zoological gardens” more resembled oversized insect collections. In Hamburg in 1907, Carl Hagenbeck was the first to attempt natural landscapes and open-air enclosures. However, not enough was known about the wild animals (most acquired illegally) and their specific needs. The result: many animals died miserably, and breeding was out of the question. The next step was taken in Basle in the 1950’s. On the basis of biological studies, Zoo Director Heini Hediger called for a completely new zoo concept. Variety in the animals’ routine and stimulating furnishings in the enclosures – these were measures to avoid conspicuous behavioral disorders in the captive animals. For about twenty years, these modern “zoo landscapes” have prevailed in zoo planning. They offer the most faithfully reproduced climate zones possible, “adventure paths” for visitors, areas where the animals can be alone, and computer-controlled feeding boxes to simulate “real hunting experiences.” Whether or not the animals are really happy and healthy in these miniature landscapes still remains a controversial debate.

Broadcast date:am 06.06.03, arte 01.01.2004
Written and directed by:Marcus Fischötter
Production:Ulrike Römhild
Producer:Martina Sprengel
Executive producer:Hartmut Klenke
Filming location:Leipzig, Hannover, Hamburg, Antwerpen, Wien