The word ‘zoo’ is derived from the biological discipline zoology and is a shortened form of zoological garden or park. Zoos have been around since the Middle Ages but have changed radically since those days and are still constantly improving. Many zoos now attempt to replicate natural habitats within the enclosures, benefiting both animals and visitors. Particularly popular with small children are petting zoos, often integrated into larger zoos and with a combination of domestic and docile wild animals which may be stroked and fed. Zoos also cause controversy, with many animal rights activists totally against them. Some animal welfare groups recognize the educational value but seek to remedy the poor conditions which unfortunately still exist in some zoos. Animals rocking, swaying or pacing may indicate that they are distressed. The first zoo open to the public was the Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes, founded in Paris in 1794.
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