Article ID: CBB855639307

“On Deposit”: animal acquisition at the Zoological Society of London, 1870–1910 (Patron's review) (2021)


When the zoological gardens in Regent's Park opened to the public in 1847, they immediately became very popular, providing a source of both entertainment and instruction for visitors and a vital stream of revenue for the Zoological Society of London. However, the ongoing popularity of the gardens was endangered by the consistently high mortality rates which afflicted the Society's animals throughout the course of the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. This paper examines how the Society's efforts to combat this challenge led them to foster and sustain relationships which centred on the act of animal “deposit”. Often a temporary arrangement, somewhat like a loan, depositing involved a range of individuals involved in the animal trade, including commercial animal dealers and the naturalist Lionel Walter Rothschild. Through the system of depositing, the Zoological Society became the custodians of a wide range of animals which they could exhibit. However, their lack of ownership of these animals, combined with a lack of knowledge about how to care for them, ultimately constrained the Society's management of them and impeded its longer-term goals of reducing both animal mortality and the impact of high mortality rates on the menagerie's ability to attract visitors and sustain its economy.

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Authors & Contributors
Grigson, Caroline
Åckerberg, Sofia
Hochadel, Oliver
Cowie, Helen
Longair, Sarah
McAleer, John
Archives of Natural History
Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science
Science in Context
Journal of the History of Collections
Umeao University
Manchester University Press
Harrassowitz Verlag
Junta de Castilla y León, Consejería de Cultura y Turismo
Indiana University
Reaktion Books
Collectors and collecting
Specimen exchange
Biological specimens
Natural history
Du Chaillu, Paul
Mueller, Ferdinand, Baron von
Rothschild, Lionel Walter
Taylor White
Bocage, José Vicente Barbosa du
Plukenet, Leonard
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
18th century
17th century
Early modern
London (England)
Great Britain
United Kingdom
Middle and Near East
Zoological Society of London
Jesuits (Society of Jesus)
East India Company (English)
McGill University (Canada)
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Museu Bocage, Museu Nacional de História Natural

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