Animals were exhibited in Rome as well as being killed in the arena. Perhaps surprisingly the Romans did not have what we would consider true zoos – private or public, although many other ancient civilizations and powers did, including the Greek rulers of Egypt, the Ptolemies. Animals appear to have been brought in to be shown – with a huge emphasis on the novelty of the animal being exhibited – and then, frequently, killed in the arena. Some animals were trained to do tricks and did become audience favourites.
To read more about the exhibition of animals go here.
To read more about venationes, beast-hunts in which sometimes thousands of animals were killed, go here.