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This review written by Christoph Schwitzer and reprinted by Kind Permission of International Zoo News Completely different (see Curitiba Zoo) is the second zoo of Curitiba, the so-called Passeio Publico. Situated in a park in the middle of the city, it is in many features comparable to the Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes in Paris or the old zoo in Poznan, Poland. Though I have no information about when it was founded (the park was established in 1886, but the zoo must be younger), it seems to be at least coming to the end of its first century. Despite its relatively small site -- less than ten acres (4 ha) -- it houses a fair number of animals, ranging from spiders, fish, amphibians and reptiles in an aquarium building (which is the only zoo building accessible to visitors in either of Curitiba's zoos) over a good collection of native birds to smaller mammals, including a single yellow baboon (Papio cynocephalus). The aquarium, which I unfortunately wasn't able to visit myself, shows mostly indigenous species, housed in four rows of clean and well decorated tanks that are arranged in a circular shape, as well as in four large terrariums which stand in the middle of the building surrounded by the tanks (D. Wanke, pers. comm.). In the zoo, the enclosures are small and many are old-fashioned cages, but the bird cages in particular are well furnished, providing more than adequate homes for their inhabitants. Here too admission is free, and so this small zoo is a lively place, with its visitors as interesting and colourful as its animals.
With almost no educational labelling and only very limited space for, e.g., participation in breeding programmes for endangered species, one could think that the Passeio Publico does not serve any purpose, as there is a much larger zoo in the same city that could easily house all its animals. But this is far from the truth, as, in an ideal symbiosis of both zoos with a wisely-chosen animal collection for each of them, it could provide a home (as it already to some extent does) for many of the smaller species which can be exhibited in a spectacular way even when there is not much space available. To achieve this goal, a great deal of work still needs to be done, but, for the citizens of Curitiba, the most apparent function of the Passeio Publico is to serve as a meeting place, a little oasis in the middle of one of Brazil's big cities, where children can go even without their parents to encounter some of their country's native (and some exotic) animals, and pensioners can take a rest while trying to teach some amazon parrots the Portuguese language. Given that the animals are kept in adequate conditions, there is nothing wrong even with this raison d'être, which is often forgotten in discussions about the need for zoos in our time.
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