NYC - Brooklyn - Prospect Park Zoo: Animals in Our Lives - Koi

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    Koi (鯉), or more specifically nishikigoi (錦鯉), are ornamental domesticated varieties of the common carp Cyprinus carpio. They are believed to have originated from Eastern Asia, Aral, Black and Caspian Seas. Earliest records of Koi have been found in China and have been widely spread in Japan. The ornamental cultivation of carp flourished under the Chinese Qing Dynasty and Japanese Yayoi Period. They are very closely related to goldfish and, in fact, the style of breeding and ornamentation has become very similar, probably through the efforts of Japanese breeders to emulate goldfish. Koi and tattoos of koi are traditionally considered lucky.

    The word "koi" comes from Japanese. The original Japanese word koi simply means "carp," including both the dull grey fish and the brightly colored varieties. A homonym of koi means 'love, affection' and koi are therefore symbols of love and friendship in Japan.

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    The Prospect Park Zoo, Brooklyn's only Zoo, is home to nearly 400 animals of more than 80 species. First established as a small menagerie in Prospect Park in the late 1800's, this collection of animals became the more formal Prospect Park Zoo on Flatbush Avenue that opened to the public on July 3, 1935. A Works Progress Administration (WPA) project, the Zoo was part of a massive city-wide park improvement program initiated and executed by former Parks Commissioner Robert Moses. Closed in 1988 for a five year, $37 million dollar renovation program, the zoo was completely replaced save for the exteriors of the 1930's-era buildings. Rededicated on October 5, 1993, it joined Wildlife Conservation Society's (WCS) world-renowned network of wildlife parks in New York City.

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