Zoos evolved from animal menageries for the curious into zoological gardens for the scientific study of animals during the second half of the nineteenth century. The London Zoological Gardens was the first to open in 1828 but over the next fifty years they were built in Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Frankfurt and Dublin.
|Obaysch - The first hippopotamus at London Zoo (1850)|
|The Zoological Society of London was founded by Stamford Raffles in April 1826 with the intention of encouraging research into animals and two years later London Zoo was opened to the members of the society at its Regent Park location. It was not until 1847 that the gardens were opened to the general public.
In 1850 a young male hippopotamus was given by the Egyptian Pasha to Queen Victoria as a gift. It was called Obaysch after the island on the Nile that it came from. This was the first live hippopotamus to be seen in Europe since Roman times and it created a public sensation and an immediate fascination in exotic animals.
The photograph is a salt print and was taken by Count of Montizon (Juan Carlos Maria Isidro de Borbón) (1822-1887) in 1852 and was included in The Photographic Album for the Year 1855 a publication of the Royal Photographic Society's Photographic Exchange Club.
For further information:
J. Edwards (1996) London Zoo from Old Photographs, 1852-1914
Nina Root (February 1993) "Victorian England's Hippomania" in Natural History
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[Copyright and Fair Use Issues]
By the early years of the twentieth century London Zoo had W.P. Dando as its official photographer and took a 1903 photograph of a Thylacine on hind legs
- the Thylacine, or Tasmanian Tiger, was officially declared extinct in 1986. Zoos are required for the captive breeding of animals but at the same time we would rather see the animls back in the wild and this is a dilemma.