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Title: The natures of the beasts : an animal history of Bristol Zoo since 1835
Author: Flack, Andrew J. P.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5350 7809
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2014
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Since its opening in 1836 Bristol Zoo has displayed animals from every continent except Antarctica in order to deliver amusement and instruction to its visitors. Over time, the nature of this human-animal space changed in a variety of important ways, reflecting transformations in the ways humans gave meaning to non-human animal life. This thesis engages with insights rooted in colonial, environmental, cultural and intellectual histories, principally arguing that multi-layered interspecies relationships were predominantly rooted in a complicated dyad of object-subject. Animals were seen as representative objects to be bought, sold, studied and enjoyed, as well as simultaneously individual subjects capable of communing with their human counterparts. Such relationships were frequently illustrative of a fluid balance of control and, in many ways, lay bare the uncertain philosophical boundary separating humans from the rest of the natural world. While this thesis details important changes over time, it approaches these relationships thematically. It shows that animals were objects of desire, though they had different values depending on species, age, sex and utility. Later, their value was increasingly attached to the genetic information coursing through their veins. Modes of maintaining the animal and displaying it for instructive and entertaining consumption reveal similarly complicated ways of thinking about non-human animal life. The imagination of animals in scientific and anthropomorphic ways denote entangled ontological classifications of human and nonhuman animals, and the existence of a hierarchy of species based on the possession of humanoid features. Moreover, the material influence of animals, while challenging conceptualisations of absolute human power in captive spaces, has often been interpreted in ways which reinforced the status of animals as objects of physical and imaginative manipulation. Finally, in death, animals were understood in ways that changed significantly during the period, but which remained rooted in the familiar binary of object-subject.
Supervisor: Coates, Peter A.; Cole, Tim Sponsor: AHRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: zoo; animal history; captivity; celebrity; imperialism