Frederick’s Menagerie

Frederick’s Menagerie

Refling, Mary

A Conference Paper Read at the Second Annual Robert Dombrowski Italian Conference, September 17-18, (2005)


Exotic animals have been emblematic of the cultural differences between the European, African and Asian continents since before the time of Alexander, and to this day their presence in our zoos marks the nature of diplomatic relations and cultural exchange between sovereign states. Our fascination with an animal’s habits, with its size, with the strangeness of its appendages, with the markings on its body, with its smells and its cries, is a human universal and a reminder of our own membership in the animal kingdom. If barnyard animals, despite their familiarity and their reliable domestication, still provoke in us a childlike wonder and wary respect of teeth and hooves and claws, is it no wonder that a ferocious bests from the jungles of a far-off land terrify and thrill the child-self within each of us as we gaze upon it from the safe side of a pen or a cage?

Click here to read this article from the Second Annual Robert Dombrowski Italian Conference

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