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1851—1860

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In the opening year of this decade the Society sustained a heavy loss by the death of the President, the Earl of Derby, whose interest in the Garden establishment was shown by his many donations and the frequent exchanges effected between Regent's Park and Knowsley. He was one of the original members, and acted on the Farm Committee; and his communications to the scientific meetings were always of a practical nature, in this respect following the lines of work which Sir Humphry Davy is credited with having laid down. To him was due the introduction of the eland and some other species into this country; and he always hoped that these fine antelopes might be turned to practical account as park animals and for the table. His death took place on July 2, and the Council were so fortunate as "to obtain the assent of H.R.H. Prince Albert to their request that he would honour the Society by accepting the vacant office." As the Prince was not a Fellow he was admitted at a special meeting of the Council on July 19, as a necessary qualification for the Chair, which he repeatedly occupied, and his firm signature, "Albert," was in due form appended to the minutes.


The first work of importance was the provision of an enclosure and tank for the hippopotamus, and platforms were added so that visitors might see the animal in the water. Concurrently with this the west wing of the giraffe house was erected, the eagles' aviary on the lawn — now done away with — was completed, and platforms made on the south side of the Carnivora Terrace. About the same time the house on the south side of the Museum was built, and divided up to serve for pythons and anthropoid apes. Here it was that the famous Sally lived. As originally constructed, the house for the exhibition of Gould's collection of humming birds stood on the site of the present plovers' aviary, at the back of the lion house. In describing its position the Illustrated London News (May 31, 1851, p. 480) said that it was "on the left of the walk which leads from the south entrance of the Society's gardens towards their splendid collection of Carnivora."


This collection was one of the great attractions during the year of the Great Exhibition. On June 10 the Queen and Prince Albert, accompanied by the Princesses, the Duke and Duchess of Saxe-Coburg, and Duke Ernest of Wurtemberg, visited the Gardens. The Times of the following day said:

Her Majesty occupied a considerable period of her visit in inspecting the celebrated collection of humming birds which has been placed in the Garden by Mr. Gould. The admirable manner in which this beautiful group is illustrated, and the extreme rarity of several of the species, have rendered the building in which they are contained a most important addition to the previous attractions of the establishment, and supplied in the only possible manner a great desideratum in the ornithological part of the Society's collection. The visitors who have repaired to the Gardens for the purpose of examining the humming birds include the most distinguished names in science and in art, as well as in rank, and they have universally expressed their surprise and admiration at the unexpected extent of the species, the peculiar forms of their plumage, and the intense brilliancy of colour for which they are remarkable above every other part of the animal kingdom.

In the Exhibition year the Western Aviary was completed, presenting a front 168 feet long, with nineteen divisions, containing in all about two hundred birds of various species.

The Aquarium — or Aquavivarium — was opened in May, 1853, and at once became popular, no doubt owing to the writings of Gosse, Bowerbank, Warrington, and others. The tanks were stocked with sea and river fish, and marine and fresh- water invertebrates— from cuttle-fish to sponges. In his second Guide, published in 1858, D. W. Mitchell claimed that the success which attended the public exhibition of fish and the lower aquatic animals, then first attempted on a large scale, had promoted the study of these creatures, not only at home but on the Continent.

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The volume for 1860 was much larger than any previously published, and contained nearly five hundred pages. Although there was no striking paper, the usual high level was maintained. Owen contributed nothing; but there was an abstract of Ritchen Parker's notes on the shoe-bill stork, which appeared in full in the fourth volume of the Transactions. Professor Newton's observations on hybrid ducks, and Bartlett's practical notes on animals in the Gardens, are worth recalling.

A plan, with a list of the houses, was issued in the year of the Great Exhibition, and sold at twopence. Mitchell's first Guide, published in 1852, contains this plan, but Gould's humming-bird house, there shown in its original position in the South Garden, has been erased. The imprint contains the line "Printed for the Author," and it would seem not to have been an official publication. Another edition was contemplated, which was to contain a "List of Animals," probably on the lines of that published in 1844, but there is no record of its publication. In the text is an announcement of the preparation of a work "for which an original series of illustrations have been made from animals in the Gardens by the accurate hand of Mr. Wolf." This refers to the "Zoological Sketches, begun by Mitchell, with the sanction of the Council. The first volume, completed by Dr. Sclater, was published in 1860.

The first Catalogue of the Library was published in 1854; it contained the titles of about four hundred and sixty separate works, including scientific periodicals.

Returns of the number of animals in the Menagerie are only available for two years. On December 31, 1859, there were 364 mammals, 819 birds, and 137 reptiles; the figures for the end of 1860 were 467, 931, and 192 respectively.

(Partial text:) The Zoological Society of London. This Edition is limited to 1,000 copies, of which this is No.377. 1905. Henry Scherren, F.Z.S., Member of the British Ornithologists; Union.

(Partial text:) The Zoological Society of London. This Edition is limited to 1,000 copies, of which this is No.377. 1905. Henry Scherren, F.Z.S., Member of the British Ornithologists; Union.

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Zoological Society of London
1822-1830 1831-1840 1841-1850 1851-1860 1861-1870
1871-1880 1881-1890 1891-1900 1901-1905