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 JackieGaekwad, 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 "Journal of Zoo Outreach Organisation' as it was called then was in bright red. We are going to return to this design soon 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 fuller 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.zooreach.org.