top of page

The first travelling exotic animal shows in England took place around 1700, with increased access to remote locations and animals from the growing British Empire trade. Run by showman who could meet the craving for sensation to show the ordinary person something they had never seen, eventually they began to grow in size. The largest and best known was ‘Wombwell's Travelling Menagerie’ founded by George Wombwell, (24 December 1777 – 16 November 1850).


The collection of animals at the Zoological Gardens in London, were formed from two other collections, one from the Tower of London menagerie, which had existed since the reign of King John in the 12th century; and the other, the Exeter Exchange Menagerie on the Strand in London, which opened in 1773. Both previous menageries were open to the public and were hugely popular. It is known that both Lord Byron, and William Wordsworth visited the Strand menagerie. Animals from the collection upon their death were stuffed and displayed in William Bullock’s London Museum, also called the Egyptian Hall, the first building in England to be influenced by the Egyptomania style. The admission to the Tower of London menagerie was free if the visitor brought along a dog or a cat to be fed to the Lion’s


The first exotic animal known to have been exhibited in America was a lion, in Boston in 1716, followed five years later in the same city by a camel. In 1727 a lion cold be seen in Philadelphia, and in 1796 the first elephant seen in America was on display in New York City. In 1834 James and William Howes’ New York Menagerie toured New England with an elephant, a rhinoceros, a camel, zebra, gnu, two tigers, a polar bear, and several parrots and monkeys.


Exeter Exchange Menagerie 1773

  • Prints
    Recreation of titlepage with added historical elements. Printed on handmade paper resembling the look and feel of paper from the period the work was produced (8.5" x 11"), or textured watercolour paper (5"x7"). Printed with archival inks, and packaged in protective sheet and cardboard backing.
    Small prints on antique style paper, mounted to actual antique salvaged wood, and hung with twine. 3.5" x 4.5"

bottom of page