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Quelle: Atelier Theod. Reimers, Hamburg

Tuesday, November 05, 2013 | This article is listed in the sections Magazine and Zoos and animal parks.

Carl Hagenbeck, Part 2

Carl Hagenbeck was an revolutionary in terms of modern animal keeping. One of his most successful undertakings "Carl Hagenbeck's International Circus and Singhalese-Caravan" opened in Hamburg in 1887. The story of his involvement with circuses did not end with the closure, even though he never had a deep interest in this business and the idea to form a traveling circus was responding more to a financial necessity than to a personal desire.

With the help of his brother Wilhelm, a renowned animal trainer, Carl Hagenbeck trained lions in a completely new way that put aside the, in his words, "old, cruel methods of training animals". Furthermore, he noted in his memoirs: "animals are creatures like us and their intelligence is different from ours only in degree and strength, but not in type. They react to meanness with meanness, and to friendship with friendship". He argued that it was about time to alleviate the suffering of the animals caused by the sense of human superiority, and to start promoting trust between animal and tamer. The German visionary came to the, back than revolutionary, conclusion that "through love, kindness and perseverance, paired with discipline, one can get more out of an animal than through raw force".

Carl Hagenbeck, who imported, exported, breeded, crossbred and traded a large number of animal especies, found himself needing more and more space to house and display his animals. His zoo finally moved to its present location – which not only provided enough space for the animals at that time, but also for future animal inhabitants – in Stellingen (nowadays one of Hamburg's city quarters) in 1907.

The opening of Tierpark Hagenbeck

When the animal park opened to public in the same year, the zoo director was glad to show his panorama "Zoological Paradise, The Zoological Garden of the Furture" on a permanent basis, he had already filed a patent in 1896. He was eager to turn this concept into reality by presenting exotic lives in any possible way. Besides importing animals and human beings from all over the world, Carl Hagenbeck made sure that they were accomodated and exhibited in surroundings much like their natural homes. His ethnological exhibitions were supposed to give an idea of "exotic people" as "purely natural" populations and what was then said to be their customary activities. Moreover, animals native to mountains had enclosures with rocks, polar bears were housed in a polar landscape, etc.; even a replica of the African steppe was to be found in Northern Germany.

Looking back, another new striking feature was the "natural barrier", meaning that, for the most part, Hagenbeck did without fences and bars. Barriers such as moats, ditches or gorges kept visitors at a safe distance from which they had the opportunity to observe wild animals better, or rather more intensive, than ever before. Other zoo directors reacted negatively to what is today known as modern zoo keeping. What later became known as the "Hagenbeck revolution" refers to the transformation of the zoo architecture initiated by the name-giver – sort of a breakthrough moment of modern zoo design where animals live in naturalistic enclosures.

The love for animals

Animal collector, animal trader, animal exhibitor, initiator of ethnological exhibitions, tamer, founder of modern zoo keeping – all united in one single person: Carl Hagenbeck, a great character and visionary with a few shady sides, however. The love for animals was with him all his live. He was convinced that animals were individuals with their own characters, and that they had to be treated correspondingly.

Carl Hagenbeck died on 14th April, 1913. Tierpark Hagenbeck can be seen as his legacy. Even in the 21st century it still attracts numerous visitors by keeping his prinicpals alive.

Carl Hagenbeck, Part 1

© parkscout/US/AF

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