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1901—1905

Before dealing with the ordinary subjects of their Report at the Anniversary Meeting of April 29, 1901, the Council referred to "the topic which had recently engrossed the attention of the whole nation - the death of Her late Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria" - in the following paragraph:

Queen Victoria was, as is well known, closely connected with this Society, as its Patron since 1837, as a Donor on many occasions of valuable gifts to the Menagerie, and up to a recent period as a frequent visitor to the Gardens. It may interest the Fellows to learn that the last occasion when Queen Victoria honoured the Gardens by her presence was on the 14th of March, 1877, when Her Majesty was accompanied by the Princess Beatrice, and was conducted round the Gardens by the Secretary and late Superintendent, Mr. A. D. Bartlett. Queen Victoria likewise visited the Gardens on March 20, 1875, and March 26, 1874.

An address of condolence and loyalty had been previously forwarded to the King, and the Council had " the great pleasure of announcing that His Majesty had been graciously pleased to become the Patron of the Society in succession to Her late Majesty Queen Victoria." The King had been a Fellow since 1863, in which year he became Vice-Patron; the late Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (the Duke of Edinburgh) was admitted in 1866; the Duke of Connaught in 1878, and the Prince of Wales (then Duke of York) in 1894; became Vice-Patron in March, 1902.

#Although the great contest for the Secretaryship did not take place till the Anniversary Meeting of 1903, it was evident about the middle of 1901 that matters were shaping for a fight. Dissatisfaction was publicly expressed at the management of the Gardens, and especially with the housing. A good deal of this was unfair; some had its origin in sentimentalism and want of acquaintance with the conditions of the case; and some appeared to be the outcome of personal feeling - an attack on individuals rather than on a bad condition of things, brought about by lack of adequate supervisioa The strange part of the business was the concern displayed for the better management of the Society by men who till this time were practically unknown. To Mr. M. D. Hill, whose action led to the discussion of grave matters, these words, however, do not apply. At the Monthly Meeting of June 20, 1901, he moved: That the Council be recommended to consider the condition of the Parrot, Kangaroo, and Fish Houses, also of the Northern Aviary, as being of neither scientific nor educative value, and tending to the infiiction of needless discomfort on their occupants.

At the Gardens the new pheasantry beyond the insect house was stocked in 1901. The two houses and paddocks in the centre are larger than the five on each side; and were at first used for peafowl - Javan, black-winged, domesticated and albino forms being represented. Of the true pheasants the following were exhibited: Reeves's, Elliot's, Mongolian, Japanese, Soemmering's, Siamese, Swinhoe's, Rufous-tailed, Amherst, and Gold.

In reporting on the works at the Gardens in 1903, the Council said that very much was required to bring that part of the estabhshment into a condition worthy of the Society. The improvements, carried out in accordance with the Report of the Reorganisation Committee, included repairs and restorations, and better accommodation for housing. Under the former heading a good deal of work was done; telephonic communication was established with the fire station at Camden Town, and hydrants and hose were provided. The Resident Superintendent's house was thoroughly overhauled, enlarged, and fitted with proper office accommodation.

In the North Garden the canal bank was turfed and laid out with running water and rockwork as cranes' paddocks, where the birds are seen to advantage in natural surroundings. Beyond the pheasantry stables with railed courtyards were erected to accommodate surplus stock.

In 1904 restorations were effected in the small cats' house, which was then used for squirrels; elephant, giraffe, and zebra house; Main Entrance and South Entrance lodges, bears' den, antelope house, lion house, reptile house, and deer sheds.

The commissariat expenses for 1904 were less by £1,435 than they were in 1902, and the saving on the two articles of meadow and clover hay in 1904 was over £850.

Grant's zebra was received in 1901. This animal, the first of its kind to reach England, was presented to the King by the Emperor Menelek; it is of the Burchell type, but the ground-colour is white, and "shadow-stripes" are absent. In the same year a Parry's kangaroo was deposited, and marked "new to the collection." But the type certainly lived, for a very short period, in the Gardens in 1834. Bennett described it, and named it in honour of the donor, Sir Edward (then Captain) Parry, from whom an interesting note was read with regard to its habits, and Owen dissected it. Many birds new to the collection were received, including cassowaries and parrots, the open-bill, and the painted snipe.

Prjevalsky's horse came to the Gardens early in 1902, a pair being received in exchange and another pair on deposit. These animals are of great scientific interest, as belonging to a truly wild species; but they had little attraction for the general public. Among the more noticeable birds were the spotted cassowary, the pheasant- tailed Javan, the racket-tailed parrot, the Galapagan barn owl, the stork-billed kingfisher, the grey teal, and the wall-creeper; and the reptiles new to the collection included the strange scale-footed lizard, the fringed gecko, and the Southern or dwarf anaconda, which has since bred.

Jim, the famous Indian rhinoceros, which had been presented in July, 1864, died in December, 1904, having been more than forty years in the Gardens, of which he was the oldest inhabitant. Guy Fawkes, the hippopotamus, born November 5, 1872, succeeded to that distinction; and Suffa Culli, the female Indian elephant presented by the King (then the Prince of Wales) on July 24, 1876, comes next.

The appreciation of the work of the Re-organisation Committee by the public and the Press has been marked, so that in April, 1905, the Council were able to congratulate the Fellows on the prosperous condition of the Society. They expressed the belief that a continuance of the same vigorous policy, combined with a careful scrutiny of expenditure, would lead to still better results; and no doubt they will achieve the success they undoubtedly deserve.

(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
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