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Mandela, Adieu

Mandela And Pope John Paul II - Two Farewells For The Ages

Nelson Mandela and Pope John Paul II in 1995
Nelson Mandela and Pope John Paul II in 1995

Two farewells for a pair of towering figures in world history: the 2005 funeral of Pope John Paul II and Tuesday’s mass public ceremony to mark the death of Nelson Mandela.

Not since the global public outpouring in Rome more than eight years ago to pay respects to the Polish pontiff has the world come together to mark a life that shaped our times.

Though the personal biographies are quite different, the Roman Catholic monarch and South African freedom fighter shared that unique mix of political and spiritual leadership that extended far beyond their own respective flocks.

Tuesday’s memorial for Mandela is also a chance to take stock in what has and hasn't changed since John Paul's passing: the global economic crisis and election of the first African-American president, the Arab Spring, Afghanistan and Iraq, exploding Facebook and Twitter, imploding Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus.

Here are some points of comparison:


St. Peter’s Square

Soweto's FNB Stadium


John Paul II: 300,000

Mandela: 94,000

Notables: The Vatican funeral in 2005 was limited to official political and religious dignitaries — while such celebrities as Bono, the Spice Girls, Charlize Theron and Oprah Winfrey are on hand for Mandela’s farewell.

Here are the officials who showed up, then and now:

John Paul II funeralNelson Mandela memorial

[rebelmouse-image 27087610 alt=""Flag" original_size="30x20" expand=1]


President Jacques Chirac.

President François Hollande and
former President Nicolas Sarkozy
are attending, although they did not
travel together.

[rebelmouse-image 27087611 alt=""Flag" original_size="30x20" expand=1]


President Hamid Karzai.President Hamid Karzai.

[rebelmouse-image 27087612 alt=""flag" original_size="30x20" expand=1]


Minister of Culture
Farouk Hosni.
No representative.

[rebelmouse-image 27087613 alt=""Flag" original_size="30x20" expand=1]


Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma. No representative.

[rebelmouse-image 27087614 alt=""Flag" original_size="30x20" expand=1]


President Viktor Yushchenko. No representative.

[rebelmouse-image 27087615 alt=""flag" original_size="30x16" expand=1]


George W. Bush with his wife Laura,
George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton.
Barack Obama, George W. Bush,
Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter.

[rebelmouse-image 27087616 alt="""" original_size="514x339" expand=1]

American dignitaries at John Paul II's funeral — Photo: White House

[rebelmouse-image 27087617 alt=""Flag" original_size="30x21" expand=1]


President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.President Dilma Rousseff.

[rebelmouse-image 27087618 alt=""Flag" original_size="30x20" expand=1]


President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi
and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Prime Minister Enrico Letta.

[rebelmouse-image 27087619 alt=""Flag" original_size="30x15" expand=1]

United Kingdom

Charles, Prince of Wales, Tony Blair
— but not the Queen.
Charles, Prince of Wales
and Prime Minister David Cameron.
The Queen wished to attend but
has been advised against it by doctors.

[rebelmouse-image 27087620 alt=""Flag" original_size="30x17" expand=1]


President Mohammad Khatami. Although President Hassan Rouhani was rumoured to go, he tweeted Monday that his VP for Executive Affairs Mohammad Shariatmadari would be attending the memorial.

[rebelmouse-image 27087621 alt=""Flag" original_size="30x15" expand=1]


Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei.President Mahmoud Abbas.

[rebelmouse-image 27087622 alt=""Flag" original_size="30x15" expand=1]


Robert Mugabe.Robert Mugabe.

[rebelmouse-image 27087623 alt=""Flag" original_size="30x20" expand=1]

South Africa

Vice President Jacob Zuma. President Jacob Zuma.

[rebelmouse-image 27087624 alt="""" original_size="125x83" expand=1]


No representative. Vice President Li Yuanchao.

[rebelmouse-image 27087626 alt=""Flag" original_size="30x22" expand=1]


President Moshe Katsav.President Shimon Peres is not attending,
citing health problems. Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu won't be there either,
citing high travel costs.

[rebelmouse-image 27087627 alt=""flag" original_size="30x15" expand=1]


President of the National Assembly
Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada.

President Raul Castro.

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A Naturalist's Defense Of The Modern Zoo

Zoos are often associated with animal cruelty, or at the very least a general animal unhappiness. But on everything from research to education to biodiversity, there is a case to be made for the modern zoo.

Photograph of a brown monkey holding onto a wired fence

A brown monkey hangs off of mesh wire

Marina Chocobar/Pexels
Fran Sánchez Becerril


MADRID — Zoos — or at least something resembling the traditional idea of a zoo — date back to ancient Mesopotamia. It was around 3,500 BC when Babylonian kings housed wild animals such as lions and birds of prey in beautiful structures known as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Ancient China also played a significant role in the history of zoos when the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) created several parks which hosted an assortment of animals.

In Europe, it wouldn't be until 1664 when Louis XIV inaugurated the royal menagerie at Versailles. All these spaces shared the mission of showcasing the wealth and power of the ruler, or simply served as decorations. Furthermore, none of them were open to the general public; only a few fortunate individuals, usually the upper classes, had access.

The first modern zoo, conceived for educational purposes in Vienna, opened in 1765. Over time, the educational mission has become more prominent, as the exhibition of exotic animals has been complemented with scientific studies, conservation and the protection of threatened species.

For decades, zoos have been places of leisure, wonder, and discovery for both the young and the old. Despite their past success, in recent years, society's view of zoos has been changing due to increased awareness of animal welfare, shifting sensibilities and the possibility of learning about wild animals through screens. So, many people wonder: What is the purpose of a zoo in the 21st century?

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