A zoo is a place in which live animals are kept on exhibit for the education of the public and for scientific study. Zoos are usually in parks; the name "zoo" comes from the term zoological garden.

   Many people who will never be able to travel over the world are able, through the zoo, to see and to learn about the animal life in other countries. Many discoveries about the habits, breeding, and illnesses of animals have been made in zoos. One of the most important contributions of the zoo is that of preserving wildlife which is becoming extinct.

   A good zoo creates excellent conditions for the animals. It will have a kitchen for preparing healthful meals that the animals will enjoy. Some zoos even bake a special kind of bread for the bears.

   All zoos have some sort of animal hospital. The hospital is usually set apart from the rest of the zoo. In large zoos these hospitals are equipped with X-ray rooms, operating rooms, and quarantine wards just as are hospitals for people. In small zoos, the owner or keeper will often take the sick animal into his own home to try to bring it back to health.

   Today, zoos are trying more and more to place animals in natural settings instead of cages. Natural settings are better for the animals and make the zoo more interesting for the public. Scientists can also better study the animals realistic character and behavior.

   Animals for zoos are obtained in various ways. They may be bought from dealers who hire natives in foreign countries to capture wild animals, or the zoos themselves may send out hunting expeditions.

   Many animals are donated to the zoo. The U.S. Air Force presented the Washington Zoo with the monkey that made the first space trip in a rocket. Of course, many animals are born in a zoo. These may be kept to grow up, or they may be traded to another zoo for an animal the zoo does not have.

   Zoos have been in existence for thousands of years because people have always been fascinated by strange animals and by animal life. Kings and wealthy lords were once the owners of the zoos, but today most zoos are owned by cities or zoological societies.