The first london zoo
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