From the old stable hand of the Wild West to today's horse trainer for a movie western, animal handlers have long been in great demand. As long as animals have walked the earth alongside humans, society has invented ways to use animals for work, recreation, and research. Ancient Egyptian records of veterinary medicine date as far back as 2000 B.C. Animal medicine was considered as important as human medicine, because of the great importance animals played in transportation and production. But animals weren't just admired for their practicality; people have always held affection and fascination for animals. The domestication of animals began during the Stone Age, and zoo keeping can be traced back to the 12th century B.C. Egypt, Greece, and China all have early records of exotic animals kept in collections for admiration and competition. Though many of the earliest zoos were kept only for kings and queens, public zoos have been in existence for over two centuries. The French Revolution resulted in the Jardin de Plantes in Paris going public and becoming a model for all the zoos to follow as monarchies fell around the world.
With the development of engines and motors, the role of animals in society has changed. Though seeing-eye dogs, laboratory primates, police horses, and canine patrol dogs are still put to work to aid humans, animals today entertain and fascinate more often than perform duties. Protecting animals has become an important aspect of every animal handler's job. For nearly 150 years, nonprofit agencies have been in place to ensure the humane treatment of animals. The first such agency in the United States was the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. It was chartered in 1866 and is still active today.