Date of Award



Edward Van Buren


The reality of the modern world is that humanity is increasing its population rapidly, and demanding more resources than the earth can provide. Humans are utilizing resources like water and fossil fuels, and are in turn polluting and causing a shift in the global climate. Most importantly, humans are taking previously untouched land and utilizing it for living space or agriculture. Therefore there is very little “wild” left after human consumption, and this rapid consumption is adversely affecting all other animal species on this planet. With little food of their own or territory to roam, many species begin their dramatic decline towards extinction and their total disappearance from this planet. Almost simultaneously with the decline of the animal kingdom arose the existence of the zoo. Zoological parks did not start off with conservation being a primary focus, however as they evolved, the focus shifted from exhibition to preservation. The modern zoo has conservation as one of its main priorities, which also include education, entertainment and research – a focus that is more comprehensive and serves to guide the actions of the modern zoo. Their work is multi-faceted and includes elements of conservation biology, history and ethics – all which are present in this thesis. While their intentions are good, the modern zoo draws a great deal of criticism from many sources who claim their efforts only serve to imprison wildlife for humanity’s benefit. This argument implies only a superficial knowledge of the work that zoos do, and therefore is illogical. The work that organizations, like the Wildlife Conservation Society – headquartered at the Bronx Zoo - do is invaluable in the fight against species decline and extinction. Therefore the modern zoo serves as a vessel both for the conservation of the animal kingdom, but also to inspire and foster a new generation committed to the preservation of all species.