By H. Cowie
Unique animals have been coveted commodities in nineteenth-century Britain. Spectators flocked to zoos and menageries to work out girl lion tamers and hungry hippos. Helen Cowie examines zoos and vacationing menageries within the interval 1800-1880, utilizing animal exhibitions to envision problems with type, gender, imperial tradition and animal welfare.
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Extra resources for Exhibiting Animals in Nineteenth-Century Britain: Empathy, Education, Entertainment
Galas, concerts and fairs were often held in their grounds on evenings or public holidays, offering additional entertainments to pleasure seekers. When there were no lions to be purchased, the proceeds from these festivities were frequently donated to good causes in the locality, thereby advertising the benevolence of the zoo. 31 A second way in which zoological gardens manifested their community spirit was by admitting impoverished local children for free, 40 Exhibiting Animals in Nineteenth-Century Britain following the example of travelling menageries.
27 The gardens, when they opened, consisted of four major components spread across different sites around London. Firstly, there was the menagerie, the main element, which was situated in the Regent’s Park on a plot allotted to the Zoological Society by the Government. 29 Finally, there was a farm at Kingston-upon-Thames, a repository for live animals set apart from the public attraction and intended for the breeding of ‘useful’ species. 30 Diplomats and officers serving overseas were requested to send back interesting creatures encountered on their travels, which many did (see Chapter 4).
On this occasion, the Bristol Zoological Gardens had been offered ‘a pair of fine young Barbary lions’ by a local animal dealer, but, lacking sufficient funds to buy them outright, its directors sought to raise the money by organising a special Grand Gala, the proceeds of which would go towards the animals’ purchase. To maximise ticket sales, the organisers arranged for admissions to be sold, not just from the zoo itself, but at various local retailers, including Mr Miller’s, Seedman, Clare Street, Mr Giles’, Chemist, Royal York Crescent and Mr Hazard’s, Confectioner, St.