August 1, 2019

Mapping the Zoo
Ira Koers

The zoo as an important indicator, reflecting shifting cultural understandings and relations between humans and other animals. Mapping the zoo from its origin to the future:

From a leafy woody private pheasantry owned by a Pruissian King to a public zooilogical zoo in the space and time of Alexander von Humboldt. From a scientific and cultivated zooilogical garden into a territory symbolic of national identity and colonial conquest. From a systematically ordered exotic animal collection displayed in animal palaces hosting emperor encounters, to a blasted war scene fortified with a zoo flak tower. From 4000 animals to 91 animals. From zooilogical garden in East Berlin to Tierpark in West Berlin. From a post-war zoo under construction to the most visited zoo in Europe with public darlings like Knut and successful breeding and protection programs.

From a theme park where animal species live in man-made habitats and being viewed through man-made perspectives to a more mutual and democratic place for individuals. Where infrastructure is not a closure of territory, but space to internalize. Where giraffes can reside and the spittle bugs have their corner. Where species meet around the water or finding shelter in a palace when it rains or when harvesting fresh leaves hanging above the cycle path. From managing and exposing a collection that emphasizes differences between species to an oasis in the city where the coherence of species and nature as a whole is the sensation and the exotic.


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