The first lon­don zoo

How It Works - - HISTORY -

Long be­fore hu­mans were held cap­tive in the Tower, wild beasts once paced the fortress. The Royal Me­nagerie was founded by King John in the early 1200s, as ex­otic crea­tures were seen as sta­tus symbols. His son, Henry III, hon­oured this strange tra­di­tion and the num­ber of an­i­mals at the Tower grew. In 1235, the Holy Ro­man Em­peror Fred­er­ick II sent three lions, and in 1252 the King of Nor­way sent a po­lar bear. The Royal Me­nagerie opened its doors to the pub­lic in the 18th cen­tury – the price of ad­mis­sion was three half-pence or a cat or dog to be fed to the lions! How­ever, at the be­gin­ning of the 19th cen­tury an­i­mal wel­fare be­came a pri­or­ity and the RSPCA was founded. The Me­nagerie closed and 150 an­i­mals were moved to Re­gent’s Park, es­tab­lish­ing Lon­don Zoo.

Fanny Howe, whelp’d in the Tower, 1794. Fanny was a fe­male tiger housed in the Royal Me­nagerie

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