On this day in history : 27th April 1828 – The opening of the London Zoological Gardens in Regent’s Park – originally it was only intended for fellows of the Zoological Society but opened to the public in 1847….

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Gardens of the Zoological Society Regent’s Park 1828 Project – Public domain

We all know it as London Zoo (or Regent’s Zoo) and many of us have visited at one time or other – but the World’s oldest scientific zoo was never originally intended to be anything other than a collection for scientific study and research….

The Zoological Society of London was established by Sir Stamford Raffles ad Sir Humphrey Davy in 1826. The Zoological Gardens opened in Regent’s Park in 1828; unfortunately Raffles was never to see the completed project as he died in July 1826….

In the beginning it housed animals such as Arabian oryx, Greater kudu and orangutan; it also had the now extinct quagga and thylacine….

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Quagga – now extinct sub-species of zebra. Mare at London Zoological Gardens 1870. Public domain.
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The last known Thylacine photographed at Hobart (formerly Beaumais) Zoo in 1933. image credit: Kelly Garbato via Flickr

It was granted a Royal Charter by King George IV in 1829 – and a couple of years later, either 1831 or 32, it was decided to rehouse the animals from the Tower of London Menagerie at the Zoological Gardens…. It is thought that the decision was taken due to an incident which had occurred at the Tower…. Stories conflict slightly but either a soldier was bitten by a lion or a sailor by a monkey….whichever way, the 60 or so species of the Menagerie found a new home at Regent’s Park…. Nowadays London Zoo houses over 670 species….

In 1847 the London Zoological Gardens opened to the public to help aid funding…. In 1849 it opened the World’s first reptile house, the first public aquarium in 1853 and the first insect house in 1881…. The first children’s zoo was added in 1938….

Up until 1902 all of the animals were kept indoors as it was believed they could not survive the cold London climate…. However, when Dr. Peter Chalmers-Mitchell was appointed Secretary he embarked on a major reorganisation of the buildings and enclosures…. Many of the animals were introduced to the open air….a concept inspired by Hamburg Zoo….

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View of the Zoological Gardens 1835 – Public domain

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