Sherbourne Le Souef, a director of Sydney's Taronga Zoological Park during the first part of the twentieth century, utilized his observations of nonhuman animals living in captivity to write on the "actions, reactions and traits common to [humans] and animals" (Le Souef, 1930, p. 598). Le Souef's writings reflect his search beyond the human will for "the genesis of man's actions and reactions" (p. 598) and his appreciation of evolutionary theory where the idea of hierarchy was maintained. Similar to William T. Hornaday, a director of the zoological gardens in New York, Le Souef sought the moral improvement of zoo audiences through encouraging observation of nonhuman animals. More broadly, he argued for the relevance of his own observations to the general progress of the peoples of the new world. This paper identifies how notions of animal behavior were understood to indicate social, cultural, spiritual, and species hierarchies.
In 2004, Natalie Lloyd and Jane Mulcock initiated the Australian Animals & Society Study Group, a network of social science, humanities and arts scholars that quickly grew to include more than 100 participants. In July 2005, about 50 participants attended the group's 4-day inaugural conference at the University of Western Australia, Perth. Papers in this issue emerged from the conference. They exemplify the Australian academy's work in the fields of History, Population Health, Sociology, Geography, and English and address strong themes: human-equine relationships; management of native and introduced animals; and relationships with other domestic, nonhuman animals—from cats and dogs to cattle. Human-Animal Studies is an expanding field in Australia. However, many scholars, due to funding and teaching concerns, focus their primary research in different domains. All authors in this issue—excepting one—are new scholars in their respective fields. The papers represent the diversity and innovation of recent Australian research on human-animal interactions. The authors look at both past and present, then anticipate future challenges in building an effective network to expand this field of study in Australia.