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The historical predecessors of modern zoos were primarily showcases of empire or poorlymaintained public spectacles, but zoos now promote themselves as institutions dedicated to conservation and education. Animal rights advocates and conservationists today debate the implications of zoos for threatened wildlife species and the ethics of animal captivity. Royal menageries in ancient China, Egypt, and Rome, and their counterparts in early modern Europe, Central America, and South Asia, symbolized the monarch's power to command an extensive and exotic empire. In the 18th and 19th centuries, menageries grew into larger zoological gardens associated with royal scientific societies. These institutions added a layer of scholarly legitimacy to the royal menageries, but they remained a part of the imperial project. With growing popular interest in science, zoos such ...

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