In ancient Greece and the Roman Empire there was keen interest in exotic species of animals and plants. Religious ceremonies and sacred groves included foreign species. Rulers had hunting enclosures patterned after the 'paradises' of Persian rulers. Both the Lyceum of Aristotle in Athens and the Museum of Alexandria had a menagerie and a botanical garden. The Romans collected animals for entertainment and slaughter in amphitheatres throughout the empire. Officials supervized transport, and provincial cities were required to house and feed the beasts. Did these activities establish viable populations of invasive species? Europe did not again become home to elephants and rhinoceroses (although fossil remains of these animals were known to the Greeks and Romans). But plants were acclimated, and smaller animals may have become established. Extinction of species such as lions is noted. The comprehensive picture is less the enhancement of biodiversity than its impoverishment through consumption.

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