At the dawn of the Victorian era, London Zoo became one of the metropolis's premier attractions. The crowds drawn to its bear pit included urban promenaders, gentlemen menagerists, Indian shipbuilders and Persian princes - and Charles Darwin himself. This book shows that the impact of the zoo's extensive collection of animals can only be understood in the context of a wide range of contemporary approaches to nature, and that it was not merely a manifestation of British imperial culture.
The author demonstrates how the early history of the zoo illuminates three important aspects of the history of nineteenth-century Britain: the politics of culture and leisure in a new public domain which included museums and art galleries; the professionalisation and popularisation of science in a consumer society; and the meanings of the animal world for a growing urban population. Weaving these threads together, he presents a flexible frame of analysis to explain how the zoo was established, how it pursued its policies of animal collection, and how it responded to changing social conditions.
Dr Takashi Ito is Lecturer in Modern British History, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer Ltd
Number of pages: 216
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
[O]ffers a fine-grained history of the early years of the Society and its gardens, and with its deep dive into source material it represents an essential resource for zoo scholars. VICTORIAN STUDIES
A well-researched book offering a thoughtful and well-documented account of the Zoo's first three decades of existence [which] will be of interest to historians of science and historians of popular culture. HISTORY
A fine example of scholarship in animal history. [The author] brings welcome historical sophistication to discussions of "popular" and "professional" science in nineteenth-century Britain. ISIS: JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE
Ito's London Zoo presents a rewarding . . . account of the early years of the Gardens. JOURNAL OF INTERDISCIPLINARY HISTORY
A fascinating study [that] will not fail to be of interest to historians of science and cultural historians. MIRANDA
A valuable contribution to scholarship, especially concerning captive spaces, Victorian science and the presence of the imperial. It sets the agenda for future studies. This book should be required reading for scholars and students. REVIEWS IN HISTORY