HISTORY OF ZOOS' PRINT
Sally Walker

The first issue of ZOOS' PRINT was posted on 21 December 1985. It is 2009 at this writing and so far, ZOOS’ PRINT has not missed a month of publication.  Once, when we moved office from Mysore to Coimbatore, we combined two months in one issue. Otherwise, it has been regularly coming out for almost 25 years.

 

Its history is intimately tied up with the story of Zoo Outreach Organisation ZOO and ZOO’s history would not have been without the Friends of Mysore Zoo for two reasons.  First, because I would never have thought a zoo magazine for India would be possible had I not published the GNU's LETTER (pronounced newsletter) which reported activities and news of Mysore Zoo and their volunteer organisation called the Friends of Mysore Zoo. 

 

Zoo Outreach Organisation came about because the Friends of Mysore Zoo and its educational material and newletter came to the attention of the then Department of Environment, Government of India which was distressed with the then condition of the zoos of India.  Because of these activities, I was asked to sit on the National Zoo Advisory Board and soon to start a national organization based on the same principles as Friends of Mysore Zoo, but for India.  The DoE gave me a grant for this but for some reason I had forgotten to ask for funds for a magazine. For the first year we funded ZOOS’ PRINT with the help of Sri “Jackie” Gaekwad, Maharaja of Baroda and then by other donors.  Before our grant was up, the government changed and we were no longer supported by DoE. 

 

Zoo Outreach Organisation was named as such because it made the acronym, ZOO. The "message" was that we were supportive of zoos, so supportive that we would make the name of our organisation as ZOO.  Also the word "outreach" was intended to convey the objective of the organisation to "reach out" to zoos, wildlife departments, universities, research institutes conservation NGO's, the public and orient them to the serious scientific purpose of zoos - conser­vation, research, education. The cheetah striding across the logo was intended to convey what "might have been" for the Indian cheetah if good, systematic, scientific captive breeding programmes had been in place.  

 

The design for the original cover of ZOOS' PRINT was done by the Chamundi Academy of Visual Arts in Mysore who also did the logo. It was a three-colour cover on white art paper instead of the single colour on handmade paper that it is now.  ZOO'S PRINT was black with a yellow cheetah and the subtitle, "Journal of Zoo Outreach Organisation' as it was mistakenly called then was in bright red (mistakenly because it was not a journal ...it was a magazine). We are going to adopt a similar design to the old one in a few months, and have already changed our www.zoosprint.org website back to our old bright colours.

 

Deciding the "identity" of ZOOS' PRINT was not easy. Zoo Outreach Organisation's special mandate was "to encourage public participation in zoos. However, from the experience I had in Mysore and what I had heard about in Delhi and other zoos, I knew that zoo directors had no confidence even in a conservation NGO much less the public in general to help them. On the contrary, many were dead against having volunteers, and some feel the same way today. My intention in making ZOOS' PRINT practical and technical was to gain the confidence of zoo personnel, to convince them that an NGO could help without harming.

 

Our editorial policy was about as loose as it could possibly be. We wanted more than anything just to encourage people to write. Time passed and we continued to bring out the magazine.  It went through several evolutionary phases, as did I, and the zoos themselves.  If you are interested in reading a full history, you can find it up to 1996 in a reprinted article I wrote and up to 2003 in another article on our websites of www.zooreach.org and www.zoosprint.org.

 

In 1993, Sanjay Molur joined ZOOS' PRINT as Associate Editor and he placed a much greater emphasis on the neglected "minifauna" and plants. Sanjay also brought up the standard of ZOOS’ PRINT to a point where ZOOS’ PRINT Journal (this time a real Journal!) was formed and enjoyed several years of publication sharing space with ZOOS’ PRINT magazine in different formats. Sanjay was also responsible for putting ZOOS’ PRINT, both magazine and Journal, on its own website which I think is a great thing now.  I wish everyone had good access to the web so that we could save that much paper, as well as share more colour photographs.  We have never printed in colour (except an insert for P.P. Ravel memorial special issue) as it is so costly. 

 

Now Sanjay has founded a separate publication called Journal of Threatened Taxa JoTT which accepts scientific articles from all over the world.  It is web based and has a very sexy and georgeous logo.  Many people send articles and Sanjay has editors and proofreaders volunteering to help all over the world. So ZOO and WILD now have two separate publications each with their own website.

 

When ZOOS’ PRINT has its 25th Anniversary, I will update the history from 2003 to 2010 and put all of it together maybe in a little book.  I am no longer permitted to be Editor due to the rules of the Government of India, but I still put together ZOOS’ PRINT with help from our ZOO and WILD office staff.  My title is Editor Emeritus while Sanjay is Editor officially.

 

ZOOS’ PRINT is part of our lives at Zoo Outreach Organisation. We hope you enjoy it and also that you will send articles, stories, opinions, and reports to ZOOS’ PRINT.

 

Sally Walker
Editor Emeritus