The first zoos, known then as ‘Scientific and Permanent Scientific Institutions’ first appeared in Europe at the beginning of the 800s. At that time zoos were made up of exotic animals and animals that were rare to see because of the scarce possibility of information and communication in that era, they were therefore exposed to the public in order to raise curiosity and interest among people towards the animal world. During the XX century, the objectives and activities of these institutions were profoundly altered. The increasing degrade of natural environments, which has brought about the extinction of a lot of animals and vegetation and which threatens the survival of the human species, has forced zoos to take on a fundamental role in the conservation of endangered species.
The contribution made by modern zoos for the conservation of our biological heritage doesn’t just end with propaganda and the study of threatened animals, but it continues by setting as its aim a correct and knowledgeable education to those that we can call ‘ Planetary Urgencies’. It is not possible, in effect, to activate conservation programmes without the knowledge and support of the whole population, not only of those who live in the places that are directly interested in such projects. Education is therefore a powerful instrument of conservation and a good wildlife park can greatly satisfy these necessities. The potentials of zoos and aquariums are unique in this sense: they manage to create vivid experiences for their visitors which is only possible by visiting the collections in wildlife parks. There is no other cultural institution that commits so deeply four of the five senses: sight, smell, touch and sound. It has been estimated that more than 600 million people have visited zoos in all the world. A decisively inferior number has been registered in museums of natural science and botanic gardens.