2019 Volume 24 Issue 2 Pages 41-47
The first zoo founded in Japan was modeled on the Ménagerie, le zoo du Jardin des Plantes, opened following the French Revolution in 1794. When Yoshio Tanaka and Yukichi Fukuzawa visited Paris and the Ménagerie as shogunal dispatches at the end of the Edo Period, it may have impressed them with the depth of European culture and natural history. At the time, famous scholars such as Dr. Chevalier de Lamarck, Dr. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, and Dr. Frédéric Dagobert Cuvier, were involved with the Ménagerie in Paris. This proves that the zoo was historically based on research related to natural history, zoology, and comparative anatomy. Although little recognition about the importance of the scientific basis of Japan’s first zoo was found in official documentation—the parliamentary proceedings for the establishment of a museum in the Meiji Era—this policy has not included zoos established in Japan after the first at Ueno Park and, especially, with postwar development. There is no doubt that the reason why research among Japanese zoos has been disrupted is that studying the environment is not in a good in condition. However, is this the only reason? I believe that people involved in Japanese zoos need preparedness for carrying the more than 200 years history of research at zoos, setting up new research which adapts to the modern era and, also, disseminating findings from zoos to the larger world. We should continue to struggle to create a future focused on research which zoos historically deeply value.