The Zohologica boasts an
extravagant selection of wildlife from all over the
Sarvonian continent and is even home to some rare and exquisite samples
from the feral continent of Nybelmar. Aimed at both
young and old, rich and poor, the Zohologica is an attractive destination for
all. Established in 1643 (completed 1649), south of
New-Santhala, the Zoho is currently run by the Head Keeper "Kaemis"
Ma'akwa-jsal and was set up with the aim to showcase the beautiful, the exotic
and the ferocious.
The Zohologica is most recognised for its public exhibition gardens, housing scores of wild animals in specially adapted enclosures. However, there is also an academic side. The Zohologica’s Bestiary Archives and Library are some of the most extensive in Caelereth, shadowed only by the world renowned Compendium and Nybelmarian Enkyklopaedie.
So please, do enter, have a stroll through the gardens, take in the sights and sounds of the wonderful world the Gods have provided us with! Be dazzled by the Caladrius’ astonishing feathers, fear the stomp of the thunderfoot, hang around with the thiefling monkeys, but beware their nimble little fingers!
Function. The Zohologica serves as home to a collection of beasts and animals from all around Caelereth. The more basic and public nature of the building is to serve as an attraction for all ages and classes, bringing people closer to the fascinating wildlife that surrounds them. Through a combination of individual enclosures and wide open spaces, beasts from around the world live in prime conditions, aided here and there by some of the powerful magic from the establishment’s very own Mage Faction. An entire army of caretakers also tend to the animal’s needs, including their health and safety (or in some cases the safety of the visitors).
Next to the exhibition gardens, the Zohologica also operates on a more academic level. The Bestiary Archives serve as a central hub to all archives and records of wildlife around Caelereth. The Zohologica's Archives are a dedicated centre for the literature on the study of diverse wildlife. Similar to the compound as a whole, the Archives are once again split into two different sections. While the majority of its content is open to the general public, a revered part of this establishment is reserved for the elite and prestigious members of the Zohologican Society.
Though most commoners will come to see and remember the Zohologica as a wonderful garden of animals, it is the internal struggles and its role on the political battlefield of the beautiful and the rich that defines this establishment’s history. From its inception, the founders of the Zohologica knew that the concept would not stand on its own two feet. And so they opened the doors to the wealthy upper classes, inciting them to host expeditions and hunts for the animals that would decorate the Zohologica. In doing so, the Board of Fellows cut massive proportions off the establishment's costs, but at the same time they had underestimated the avarice and foresight of the nobles. Seeing in this business an opportunity, not so much for profit, but for prestige and reputation, the rich commenced a spiralling madness that, if left unchecked, could have very well done more than destroy the entire concept of the Zohologica.
Location. The Zohologica is located in Southern Sarvonia, south west of New-Santhala. Nestled on the eastern banks of the Thaehelvil River, just before coming across the Eyelian people’s capital Vezash, the Zohologica’s vast compounds stretch up towards the Elvergrounds.
The Zohologica's location had always been one of the most challenging aspects of a project like this one. Having discussed and refined the ideas that constituted the establishment, the Board of Fellows then needed to find a suitable place to build it. This was no easy task, considering the vast amounts of land that were necessary to house all the enclosures. More important than the land itself though was the culture of the region and the attitude of its people. Running a menagerie of such proportions would require a dedicated and capable work force that could handle the various beasts and animals. When looking at this aspect, the Eyelian people immediately came to mind. In the whole of Sarvonia there didn't seem to be a peoples more qualified and capable of handling animals than them. The Eyelians, though primitive by most tribes' standards, have a special bond with nature that allows them to handle and interact with animals in a way that no other people can. Evidence of this is the great 'Kaemis' Ma'akwa-jsal's rise to Head Keeper.
Buildings. As for buildings the Zohologica Gardens comprise the following:
The enclosures are one of the Zohologica’s most renowned attractions. Gardens that stretch far and wide imitate selections of landscape from the individual Zohologica’s surroundings, providing custom living environments for the animals they contain. Most of the enclosures are relatively low risk and boast ample viewing opportunities and controlled interaction between visitor and creature.
There are some enclosures within the Zohologica whose build is more intricate than outside appearances may reveal. These intricate builds are the result of careful planning and in the case of the 'enhanced' enclosures the work of the talented professionals of the Zoho's Mage Faction.
Different animals have different needs, and therefore require different enclosures. While size plays a reasonably small role in the assessment of the animal’s enclosure, things such as: Threat to the visitor, risk of escape, best observation opportunities, etc. define the individual’s enclosure. Some general enclosures include:
- Interactive Enclosure
These enclosures form a large part of the Zohologica. Their size varies from vast landscapes to smaller, single animal enclosures. Though the word ‘interactive’ is used to describe these enclosures, the guest and the animals are kept safely apart. The interaction merely extends to a clear visibility of the animal and a considerably close distance between visitor and animal. The average fencing used for these enclosures consists of rough local stone, built up to form a wall surrounding the enclosure’s perimeter. These walls usually stand up to one ped and a fore high and are a good fore and a palmspan in thickness, so that an adult visitor may comfortably view over them. Generally the gentle and passive nature of the creatures these enclosures contain means magic is not used to augment their properties. Where necessary, the structural properties and safety precautions are furthered. A frequent alteration to this simple model for example is the use of moats: Along the interior perimeter of these walls, a ditch can be dug out to impede any escape attempts. Various animal types will receive modified versions of this moat.
Examples of animals that are housed in these enclosures include:
The Paxen – A large enclosure stretching two square dashes, the paxen herd graze on a lush prairie dotted with patches of crisp winter snow. Given the paxen’s gentle nature, no ditch was needed/included. However, given the potential ramming power if agitated, the standard one fore and a palmspan thick wall was reinforced and further increased in width.
- Observation Enclosure
Once again the animals contained within these enclosures are no threat to the visitors; instead it is their nature and character which dictates that they obtain different specifications. These animals are very adept at blending in with their surroundings and, as such, are generally hard to spot. Because of this, these enclosures have been modified to the advantage of the visitor. Rather than having the entire perimeter of the enclosure available to visitors, special stretches have been set up along its edge where visitors enter an observation deck. To the viewer these ‘decks’ look like standard long huts with an entrance on either end of them. The inside is barely decorated, but instead boasts a panoramic array of glass panes which give views into the enclosure. Thanks to the efforts of the Mage Faction the exterior of the cabin has been magically altered so that the surface appears identical to the rest of the creature’s enclosure. While incredibly successful in easing the creature into a sense of undisturbed calm, the Zohologica did initially have multiple incidents where thiefling monkeys crawled around in the vegetation surrounding the panoramic observation decks and upon grabbing for the artificial vines would fall to the ground.
Examples of animals that are housed in these enclosures include:
The Thiefling Monkeys – In order to keep the nimble thiefling monkeys from overexciting themselves at the sheer bounty of people passing their enclosure, they were designated an Observation Enclosure which fluctuates. During some hours of the day, the camouflage along the exterior of the cabin is removed so that both visitors and monkeys may rejoice in each other's presence. To keep the monkeys from attacks of sheer ecstasy, during the beginning and end of the day, the magical camouflage goes back up and the thiefling monkeys playfully hang around their enclosures blissfully unaware of the observers.
The Bestiary Archives & Libraries
With similar aims to the Compendium, the Bestiary Library and Archives aims to assemble, store and provide access to knowledge about the beasts and creatures that roam this world. A vast library of tomes and scriptures, these Libraries form one of the most complete archives of creatures from majestic dragons to the tiniest insect.
Though part of the Zohologica, this aspect of the establishment is partially closed off to the general public. The halls which house these walls of tomes and books are separated into wards. While the public ward, making up two thirds of the archive’s content, is available to the public, the remaining third of its content is stored under strong supervision in the library ward. This latter section is only accessible by scholars and researchers wishing to further their understanding of creatures with a certain professional interest. Many a researcher has passed through these halls to be pointed in the right direction while chasing down one beast or other. The public ward, while more simplistic and functional in nature soon became a successful hub not only for those spontaneously interested, but also for the local farmers and cattle herders. Upon finding a disease or inexplicable behaviour of their stock, many farmers travel to these libraries to find an explanation or solution to their problems. It was two months after the establishment of the Zohologica that scholars were forced to put up a sign at the library’s entrance stating that sick cattle and other animals seeking aid were forbidden access to the Library’s halls, regardless of their circumstances!
Other Wards of the Library include:
The Draconian Ward - This ward is one of the most exclusive wards of the library. Boasting extensive and ancient research based on dragons and drakes, this ward is only opened to the senior members of the Zohologica Society. Local legend has it that on occasion, in the late hours of the night, flames and sparks can be spotted through the heavily reinforced and high up windows that line the tower in which the Draconic Ward is housed.
The Azure Ward - The Azure ward houses a collection of research based on marine creatures of the deep. Established reasonably late in the Zohologica's history, this ward's intention was to promote research and further understanding of the water depths of Caelereth. This department is so new and still understaffed that to the outsider's perception, the Azure Ward is still shrouded by myth and the unknown.
Organization. The Zohologica Gardens are organized as follows:
The Board of Fellows
The Board of Fellows is the highest ruling power within the Zohologica's structure. Many of its members are acclaimed researchers who have devoted themselves to one or many aspects of Caelereth’s beasts and creatures. A large percentage of these researchers, noblemen and scholars are also full time researchers for the infamous Zohologican Society. While the actual establishment of the Zohologica is handled and controlled by the Head Keeper Kaemis Ma'akwa-jsal, it was believed that an organisation with as large and broad an aspect as the Zohologica needed a defined sense of direction. While tasks and problems may be solved at the time, this society wishes to continuously further and expand its effect and role. This task falls to the Board of Fellows.
While on the Board of Fellows, a researcher will mainly continue their professional interests and research. Their only obligation to the Zohologica is to make an appearance within the society’s Library & Archives when summoned, where special rooms are reserved for these individuals as personalised workshops and chambers. Throughout the year, gatherings of the Board of Fellows will take place. These gatherings happen with precise frequency four times a year and usually deal with the wider on-goings and business related to the Zohologica. One such meeting was of peculiar note. Joining the Board of Fellows is unfortunately an exclusive privilege and so far all members have been accepted through invitation only.
Some of the Board's well known members include:
Reve'lor - Born in 1611, Reve’lor is a contemporary Kuglim from the reclusive nomadic Fal’cone tribe. He lives just outside the town of Naurooth, perched on the shorelands by the Celeste Mountains. He is famous for his large and varied collection of animals and noted for his dedication to them. Reve’lor’s “Menagerie“ not only served as a source of reference for the Zohologica but also has strong ties to the Zohologica, aiding with both advice and practical experience. Reve’lor was already known to be very hospitable and helpful to researchers in Northern Sarvonia with reference to collecting information on various beasts, so his acceptance into the Society was unconditional, rapidly establishing a strong relationship between the Kuglim and the Zohologica.
The Head Keeper
Being a reasonably new establishment, the Zohologica is still run by its first Head Keeper. Since its opening in 1643, this prestigious yet tough job has been handled by the graceful and sharp 'Kaemis' Ma'akwa-jsal. An Eyelian of the Eagle tribe, Ke'imis "Quia" Ma'akwa-jsal is a man not easily forgotten. Though his Eyelian traits of being quiet and controlled remain with him, this man radiates such self-confidence and clarity in his actions that few can now argue knowing anyone else more suited for the role.
While the choice of Ke’imis now seems obvious, at one point he was considered the last person on Caelereth to be chosen for the job. Prior to the opening of the Zohologica the Board of fellows hired many trappers and hunters to gather the various species needed for the park. The trapped animals were brought into the developing park and were placed in makeshift cages. At this time the conditions were poor and the staff ill-suited to care for the growing number of unusual beasts. As a result a menagerie of howls, yelps, caws, and growls from the animals reverberated across the nearby hills and valleys. It did not take long for the Board to realize that the animals were not adapting well to their new surroundings. Among those that heard the cries of the distressed animals was Ke’imis and his kinfolk. They responded by invading the Zohologica in the dark of the night and freeing the animals. In one such raid Ke’imis and his band were caught and brought before the Board.
When questioned why he would free the animals Ke’imis explained "The beasts call out for help. They say that man is invading their homes and stealing them from their families. They say that man abuses them and makes them to eat strange foods and to live in strange places. Those that are injured call out that they want to die. For this reason I free them."
The board was intrigued by Ke’imis’s compassion and after further questioning realized that he and his people could even communicate with the animals. They told Ke’imis that he would not be punished and asked him to stay with the Zohologica for a few days to teach the trainers what he and his people knew about the animals. Reluctantly Ke’imis agreed. It did not take long for Ke’imis to see that the Board was trying to use the Zohologica for good, to educate the people. It also did not take long for the Board to realize that Ke’imis had more than just a few days worth knowledge to pass on to the trainers. After only two weeks on the job Ke’imis was offered the position of Head Keeper, of which he gladly accepted. Now he works tirelessly to provide the animals with suitable living conditions, superior health care and appropriate diets.
Caretakers & other Workers
Not surprisingly the manpower (a term used loosely, considering the diversity of races and cultures that work here) required to maintain an establishment as big as the Zohologica working is enormous. Both men and women of all races are given a chance to work in the establishment, as long as one can pull their own weight and treats both visitors and the animals with respect.
Given the proportions and properties of the enclosures planned, the use of magic could not be excluded when working on the Zohologica. It became evident to the founding fathers that they would not be able to achieve their dreams and aspirations without the involvement of magic. However they were aware that to keep the idea of the Zohologica as accessible as possible, they would need to keep the use of such powers subtle. The role this magic had to play in the rearing and maintenance of the enclosures was sizable though, so it was decided that there would be a department dedicated solely to the use of magic involved in creating and maintaining the enclosures.
Requiring such help, and of a certain standard, this aid could only come from on organisation: the clear contender for this role was the Magical Academy of Ximax. The Board of Fellows soon realised though that an academic organization such as the Academy would not easily be swayed in and out again of the project. Because of this they decided, in order to provide the mages with a sense of establishment over which they had control and authority, it would be best to give them an individual governing body. At the same time though, setting the magic-users as an individual body would serve as a safety mechanism wherein all things related to magic was handled by the appropriate people.
The animals and creatures housed in the Zohologica span almost every categorised
branch of the Compendium's
Bestiary. Each of these animals is carefully studied and then assigned a fitting
enclosure. By following this process, the animal is housed in an enclosure where
the environment as well as population is compatible with the individual.
Since the Zohologica is heavily reliant on noblemen funding and the income obtained from the general public, it was only natural that the majority of the animals would fall under the 'harmless' category. Animals such as the beautiful blue giltra, or the thieving thiefling monkeys are at home in these enclosures. Posing little threat to the visitors, these animals roam about reasonably free and with little precautions taken against their movement within their enclosures.
Animals such as the paxen are one of the main attractions for the children. Passive and domesticated animals, these gentle giants are often put behind little more than a simple fence enclosure. This allows visitors to come right up to the animal and stoke it. While this immediate contact between animal and visitor was heavily debated, in the end the Board of Fellows decided that it would generate the needed interest and income.
Other animals and creatures the Zohologica boasts include: The lingra, the cyhalloian slinker, the haloen firebird and many more.
Economy. Since its establishment in 1643, the Zohologica's original Board of Fellows knew that their establishment would rely heavily on the interest of the people, the investment of nobles and merchants, and the research opportunities the Society could provide. As true businessmen and -women, the Board of fellows decided to at first distance themselves a little from the more idealistic approach to the Zoho. Instead they opted to approach the project from an almost purely economical and financial angle. While critics soon pounced onto this mentality, in hindsight it was the right choice for the creators, considering the Zohologica made it through its first years with close to no financial crises or scandals.
The founding fathers immediately understood that visitors would come to the facilities by one factor alone: exotic and interesting animals. At the same time, fascinating and new creatures would also provide for great research opportunities, drawing in investors and researchers. The biggest challenge would thus become obtaining these rare, beautiful and intriguing specimen.
Noble Patrons & Expeditions. In came the Nobles and Merchants. Given its location, the Zohologica was close to both New-Santhala and Vezash, two bustling centres filled to the brim with Santharians just sitting on their purses and coffers. And so with some inciting, the doors were opened to the wealthy upper classes, inciting them to host expeditions and hunts for the animals that would decorate the Zohologica. In doing so, the Board of Fellows cut massive proportions off the establishment's costs, but at the same time they had underestimated the avarice and foresight of the nobles.
Seeing in this business an opportunity, not so much for profit, but for prestige and reputation, the rich commenced a spiralling madness that, if left unchecked, could have very well done more than destroy the entire concept of the Zohologica. Hosting a hunt for a rare creature became a symbol of status, if not a pastime for the rich. In doing so, they publically showed that they were wealthy enough to fund such expeditions, and the rarer the captured animal, the more prestige the patron received. The flaunting did not end there though: Once introduced to the Zohologica, the animal's enclosure bore laudations and markings of the respective patron. This strategically placed one's name out in front of the masses without having to pay off any doomsayers or other 'people of the streets'.
These expeditions eventually spiralled out of control though. The nobles hosting these expeditions soon resorted to boycotting other patrons' convoys, stealing already captured animals before they were delivered... greed knew no end. The final spark that lit eh bonfire though occurred when expeditions started being sent out to capture dragons, drakes and other mythical creatures of untold danger. These expeditions more often than not resulted in the death and total annihilation of its people, but like children obsessed over a peculiar toy, the patrons kept sending more and more people into their doom. The promise of wealthy bounty and honour lured ensured there was no shortage of fools who would rise to the challenge.
It was after these events reached a pinnacle in 1658 that the Zohologica intervened and set down rules and laws against certain specimen it would not accept, and threatened with bans and embargoes against patrons who crossed the line.
History. While the idea of the Zohologica had been a vivid topic of conversation the Board of Fellows for years leading up to, it was not until 1643 that the decision to solidify the plan was passed. A small proportion of the lands at the time were in the possession of the Board and housed a small sample of the Zohologica's animals. This was an intelligent stunt played by the founders, for it allowed inspectors and curious hang-abouts to see what was to come and spread the word, even as the Zohologica was still being constructed. It's construction and initial public reaction caught the attention of Tiandor, at the time Thane of Sanguia. It was by his gracious donation that the Zohologica received the vast majority of the land surrounding the smaller initial site.
It was not until 1649 that the Zohologica was completed in its full glory. While most will associate the long duration of the works to the dimensions and concepts of the Zohologica, there are some that claim its completion was purposefully delayed as a political stunt to coincide with the coronation of Tiandor, who was to become Santhran Tiandor. Whatever the reasons, the official opening of the Zohologica as it stands today in all its vast glory, was a great celebration, graced by Santhran Tiandor himself. Catch Head Keeper in a good mood and he will tell stories of that day: How Tiandor himself shook Kaemis' hand and asked for a private stroll through this magnificent park after a hearty speech at the opening celebration. The coinciding of the coronation and opening was later highlighted when the Santhran became one of the major patrons of the Zohologica.
As for its nomenclature, Zohologica has its roots in the Gnomic. "Zoho" refers to the natural world around us, while "Logyia" translates to thought or investigation. Quite fittingly, the Zohologica was thus named a center for the study of the natural world of Caelereth. As with any object that gains status and travels through word of mouth, the Zohologica often becomes fondly abbreviated to the "Zoho", with Tharian speakers mostly unaware of the nickname's Gnomic meaning.