Article ID: CBB512006477

Moving across the Zoo–Field Border: Heini Hediger in Congo (2022)


The twentieth century witnessed the rise of zoo biology. Such a discipline might seem anchored in a specific spatial setting (that of the zoological garden), but if historians want to understand its development they should not limit their view to the confines of the zoo grounds. After all, understanding animals and their behavior at the zoo often involved thinking about them in other spaces as well. Notably, the “artificial” state of animals in captivity invited reflection on their “natural” condition in the wild. In order to study the changing relation between science performed at the zoo and in the field, this essay conceptualizes a “zoo–field border”—arguing that movements across this border are crucial to understanding practices on both sides. In particular, the essay analyzes a field expedition to the national parks of the Belgian Congo set up in 1948 by Heini Hediger, the Swiss zoologist who is often credited as the pioneer of zoo biology. Hediger’s expedition, it argues, involved conceptual, methodological, and logistical border-crossing. The combination of these forms, then, ultimately enabled a rethinking of animals and their behaviors on both sides of the border.

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Authors & Contributors
Munz, Tania
Bont, Raf de
Smellie, William
Wood, Paul B.
Kutschera, Ulrich
Milam, Erika Lorraine
Annals of the History and Philosophy of Biology
Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science
Llull: Revista de la Sociedad Española de Historia de las Ciencias y de las Técnicas
Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Studies in History of Biology
Thoemmes Press
Böhlau Verlag
University of New South Wales Press
University of Calgary Press
University of Chicago Press
Princeton University
Animal behavior
Natural history
Field work
Lorenz, Konrad
Smellie, William
Huxley, Julian Sorell
Worrell, Eric
Rabaud, Etienne
Caullery, Maurice
Time Periods
20th century
19th century
20th century, early
18th century
17th century
16th century
United States
Vienna (Austria)
Great Britain
London Zoo
American Museum of Natural History, New York
Tiergarten Schönbrunn (Vienna)

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