Katherine McLeod

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History, New York University

2020 to 2021
Dissertation Fellow

How to Display a Hoatzin: Zoology, Empire, and Ecology

In 1899 the New York Zoological Society (NYZS) transformed a wooded area in the Bronx into a hub of international animal trading and living displays. Known as the Bronx Zoo, the park was designed to teach city-dwellers about nature. In 1916 the Zoo established a research station in British Guiana in order to access a steady source of “exotic” fauna it wished to display in the Bronx. The station enabled zoologists to develop new methods of biological research that influenced how the science of ecology formed in the United States. I situate the Bronx Zoo within a global network of empire and economics in order to investigate the trans-imperial dimensions of animal collection, ecology, and display. My dissertation asks how the international animal trade informed the NYZS’s authoritative claims over environmental care and ecological science in ways that influenced how ecological relationships were understood and how conservation legislation was enacted.