Filled with fascinating facts and entertaining anecdotes, The Modern Ark is an in-depth look at the radical changes occurring in our nation's zoos - from cement-paved mazes to simulated rain forests to completely natural landscapes - as well as the history behind the actual idea of the zoo. With remarkable grace and elan, Vicki Croke guides us through a history replete with Egyptian menageries; Louis XVI's personal collection of exotic animals at Versailles (that the Jacobins would later attempt to liberate during the French Revolution); and, in our century, William Hearst's private park at San Simeon.
Following the lead of private menageries in Europe, public zoos began to proliferate throughout America. What once started as symbols of prestige and power, the pastime of the aristocracy, are now educational centers, developing advanced technologies in the race to conserve all that remains of the natural world. With DNA fingerprinting, artificial insemination, embryo transfers, egg harvesting and release programs, zoos still play a critical role in the fight to save endangered species. While some zoos have overhauled their exhibits, embracing the latest scientific and technological discoveries, many still lag far behind.
In The Modern Ark, we meet the villains - zoo officials and administrators who refuse to upgrade their facilities - as well as the visionaries who recognize the need for zoos to redefine themselves. From laboratories to cyberspace, Croke takes us behind the scenes where groundbreaking research is being conducted as zoos face their futures. Timely and important, vivid and textured, The Modern Ark captures the daily struggles and battles zoos confront in all their complexity and marks the debut of a fresh and vibrant new talent in nature writing.… (more)