The narrow strip of ground near Primrose Hill, now known as the North Garden, was partially laid out early in 1872, and the North Gate, with the adjoining lodge, commenced. In October the bridge that spans the canal and connects this piece with the Middle Garden was completed; but the public were not admitted at the North Gate till the Easter Monday of 1873. The land had been in the occupation of the Society since Michaelmas, 1869, and the object of opening it was rather the provision of a convenient mode of access to the Gardens for persons living north of Regent's Park than the necessity for increased accommodation for Menagerie stock. For some time only that part lying between the entrance and the bridge was utilised. The brick aviaries long occupied by owls and falcons were put up in 1874. To provide winter quarters for two Aldabra tortoises purchased in 1875, the glass front from the old lions' dens under the Terrace was erected, a little east of the entrance, and used as a tortoise house till the opening of the new building in the South Garden. Five years later more of the strip was taken in; and the iron- and-glass structure — now the insect house — was removed to its present position from the South Garden, where it had done duty as a refreshment-room. At first it served as a winter house for "some of the more delicate monkeys, birds, and reptiles, which thrive only when kept in a continuously high temperature."
After the opening of this strip what had been the North became the Middle Garden. Here the construction of the bridge necessitated the removal of an old aviary, which stood opposite the north end of the tunnel. This must have been one of the first buildings, for it is figured in a tail-piece in Bennett's "Gardens and Menagerie of the Zoological Society," which appeared in 1830, but it then served as a squirrel cage. Owing to the institution of the Davis Lectures, the old Picture Gallery was fitted up as a lecture-hall, and was employed for this purpose till 1899. In the following year the lectures were given in the meeting-room at No. 3, Hanover Square.
The erection of the new lion house in the South Garden was the most important work of this decade. Plans had been prepared and the sanction of the Board of Works obtained in 1869; but building operations were not commenced till 1875. To make room for this house the old deer sheds were cleared away, and the contractors began their work in February. Before the plans were made, Bartlett was sent by the Council to inspect and report on the lion houses in Berlin, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Hamburg, Antwerp, and Paris; and Dr. P. L. Sclater, from his acquaintance with these and other Continental gardens, was able to make suggestions.
The house is a massive brick structure, of good proportions, but without architectural adornment. It is 228 ft. long, 30 ft. high at the central elevation, and the floor-width to the front of the dens is 35 ft. A good yard must be deducted from this last measurement for the protecting barrier; but this loss of floor-space is more than balanced by the accommodation for spectators afforded by the stepped platform on the opposite side. There are fourteen dens, each with an inner compartment or sleeping place, so that animals may be exhibited in pairs, and separated when necessary. The six larger dens have a floor-space of 240 square feet; in the eight smaller ones the area is 144 square feet.
At the beginning of 1876 the lion house was finished and ready for occupation ; but the great beasts which were to inhabit it were in the dens under the Terrace Walk, now occupied by bears and hyenas.
So many applications — not a few of them from Fellows of the Society — for permission to witness the transference of the animals to their new quarters were received by the authorities, that it was found necessary to give public notice that the work would be done before the Gardens were opened.
The operations began on January 15, and most of the animals were shifted on that day, though the removal of a few of them was not effected till the following week.
This was necessarily a slow process; but the whole collection was removed without the slightest injury to the men employed or to the lower animals.
The following list from Land and Water (January 22, 1876) gives the Menagerie stock of large Felidce when the house was opened, numbering the cages from the door near the antelope house:
In 1877 the sheep-sheds were removed from opposite the cattle sheds to a position near the eastern boundary of the Garden; but they were cleared away when the new sea-lions' pond was planned.
The animals were exhibited for some months in a reception tent on the waste ground near the reptile house, and were inspected by Queen Victoria, the Prince and Princess of Wales, and other members of the Royal Family. The hunting trophies, among which were sixteen tiger skins, were displayed in the lecture-room, and shown to the public, early in 1877. Two tigers, two leopards, an elephant (Suffa Culli, still living in the Gardens), two antelopes, and two tragopans were presented to the Society by the Prince. Jung Pershad remained in the elephant house, on deposit, till its death in 1896. It is needless to say that the collection was a very great attraction, and the number of visitors made 1876 the record year.
In 1876 the Indian collection of the Prince of Wales (now King Edward VII.) was exhibited.
The Prince of Wales was a generous donor in the last year of the decade, for he presented to the Society two thars, two wild boars, six Himalayan monauls, three horned tragopans, a Temminck's tragopan, and a spotted turtle dove. Among the introductions were the koala, or native bear of Australia, which had long been a desideratum, the Tcheli monkey, and the tufted umbre, a curious African bird, the hammerkop (hammerhead) of Cape Colony. This example, purchased of a Liverpool dealer, seems to have been the first to reach Europe alive, though skins and skeletons were to be found in museums in this country and on the Continent.
(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.