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London Zoo and the Victorians

London Zoo and the Victorians

Takashi Ito
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    London Zoo and the Victorians
    Book Description:

    At the beginning of the Victorian era, London Zoo thrived as the premier resort of the metropolis. It attracted myriads of people from different walks of life, from urban promenaders to gentleman menagerists, from Indian shipbuilders to Persian princes, and included such leading figures of the day as Charles Darwin. This examination of the Zoo places it within the broader context of nineteenth-century Britain, looking at the politics of culture in the new public domain of museums and galleries, the professionalisation and popularisation of science in a new, consumer society, and how the growing urban population regarded the animals on display. Dr Takashi Ito teaches at Kanazawa Gakuin University, Japan.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-261-7
    Subjects: History, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vi-vii)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
    Takashi Ito
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  7. Introduction: The Zoo in History
    (pp. 1-20)

    The path beyond the entrance gate to London’s Zoological Gardens led to a long promenade lined with ornamental shrubs. At the far end bears were exhibited in a deep square pit, as depicted by George Scharf in one of hisSix views of the Zoological Gardens(see cover illustration). Here a gentleman holds out a long stick with a bun stuck on the end, while the bear has climbed up a stout wooden pole. The spectators expect the bear to reach out and grab the bun. Contemporary commentators often described animal behaviour in analogy with human nature. In 1829 Toby...

  8. 1 The Site of Animal Spectacle
    (pp. 21-52)

    The London Zoo is in the same place today as it was nearly two centuries ago. On a current map of Greater London, it occupies a tiny triangle, sandwiched between the spacious grounds of Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill, and seems to fit naturally into its surroundings. This was not the case, however, when plans for a zoo began to be made in the late 1820s. For its contemporaries the construction of the zoo was a new social experience. London had already played host to animal spectacles such as the Exeter Exchange Menagerie, the Tower of London Menagerie and Smithfield...

  9. 2 Collecting and Displaying
    (pp. 53-80)

    The top celebrity in Paris in 1827 was not a human, but Zaraf the giraffe. For the first time since the sixteenth century a giraffe had been brought to Europe. On 30 June she was welcomed at theMuséum national d’histoire naturelleby thousands of Parisians, with great enthusiasm and curiosity. During the summer season, she was such a popular sensation that there was a new fashion boom: ‘every fashion turned toà la giraffe;and even the ladies wore dresses, and the men carried handkerchiefs, bearing the portrait of the animal’.¹ A similar celebration was repeated nearly a decade...

  10. 3 The Question of Access
    (pp. 81-106)

    In principle, the London Zoo was open only to Fellows of the Zoological Society, their families and friends. This policy remained unchanged during the first two decades of the zoo’s history. In practice, however, the zoo was accessible even to those who were not acquainted with Fellows. The society carefully regulated its complex admission system, but the illegal entry of those described by the society as ‘improper characters’ was common. There was also a continuing tension between the society’s attempts to expel strangers and the growing demand for open access to the zoo. As a result, the question of access...

  11. 4 Between Science and Commerce
    (pp. 107-137)

    Of all the scientific institutions in Britain the Zoological Society had the largest funds. Charles Babbage remarked in hisReflections on the decline of science in England(1830) that the enormity of the society’s income was ‘a frightful consideration’.¹ The society’s affluence placed it in a different category from other scientific institutions and also drew public attention to its spending patterns. Whereas most scientific institutions were funded by voluntary subscriptions, the Zoological Society had an additional source of income: receipts from admission to the London Zoo. The potential was clearly identified by William Swainson, naturalist and external critic of the...

  12. 5 Illusionary Empire
    (pp. 138-161)

    The zoo and science interacted with each other in various ways. The zoo was a platform for rising zoologists who sought to authenticate their scientific activities, but it also problematised relationships between science and its public by raising the question of accessibility. It has also been argued that the London Zoo embodied the boundary between the separate scientific spheres: as a site of ‘recreational science’, it formed a bridge between the scientific community and the non-specialist public, and provided financial and material resources for ‘legitimate science’. Yet this book has not explored exactly what kind of science was being engaged...

  13. Conclusion: The Darwinian Moment
    (pp. 162-172)

    Charles Darwin loved to visit the London Zoo.¹ He wrote to his sister Caroline in April 1831 that ‘what I liked most in all London is the Zoolog[ical] Gardens: on a hot day when the beasts look happy and the people gay it is most delightful’.² In March 1838, after returning from his voyage on theBeagle, Darwin visited the zoo again. He was fortunate enough to see the rhinoceros emerging from her house and galloping in the enclosure ‘surprisingly quickly, like a huge cow’. The elephant in the next yard responded to his neighbour and began ‘trotting himself’ and...

  14. APPENDIX Receipts and Expenditure of the Zoological Society in Relation to Attendance at the London Zoo
    (pp. 173-178)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 179-200)
  16. Index
    (pp. 201-204)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 205-205)