The London Zoo
[Friday - 11/04/94] Originally known as the Royal Zoological Gardens, the London Zoo is in the northern part of Regent's Park, in the City of Westminster, London. It has one of the most comprehensive animal collections in the world and the largest zoological library of any zoo. The London Zoo is administered by the Zoological Society of London. The Zoological Society works both locally and with organizations and communities throughout the world to conserve endangered species.
The zoo opened in 1828 for scientific research, and its initial collections were augmented by the additions of the royal menagerie from Windsor in 1830 and the menagerie from the Tower of London soon afterward. It was opened to the general public in 1847. The London Zoo opened the world's first reptile house in 1849 and the first public aquarium in 1853. In 1881, it added the world's first insect house and also established the first ever children's zoo in 1938.
The zoo was severely affected during World War II, when its animals were killed or removed elsewhere; its edible fish ended up on London tables. In 1955, a reconstruction program was begun, and within 10 years a footbridge, the Elephant and Rhino Pavilion, a walk-through aviary designed by Lord Snowden in 1965, and an animal hospital had been built. A pavilion for small mammals followed in 1967. In 1972 the zoo added the Sobell Pavilion for apes and monkeys; the structure also houses the zoo's giant pandas and the Zoo Studies Centre. The original children's zoo was reopened in 1994.
The zoo covers 36 acres and exhibits over 650 species and houses some 12,000 animals. It has had outstanding success breeding Père David's deer, as well as the pygmy hippopotamus, musk ox, Chilean flamingo, and polar bear. The famous giant panda Chi-Chi arrived there from China in 1958.
One of the more interesting things Medb, Cassan, and I learned was the origin of Winnie the Pooh! As it goes, Lieutenant Harry Colebourn was on his way to the First World War, when on August 24, 1914 he stopped at White River, Ontario. There he found and purchased a black Canadian bear cub. He named her Winnipeg after his home town.
When his regiment was called to fight, Lieutenant Colebourn left Winnipeg in the care of the London Zoo. In 1919, he returned to Canada leaving Winnipeg to the London Zoo, who looked after her until her death on March 12th 1934.
A.A. Milne frequently took his son Christopher Robin on trips to the London Zoo. The small boy was very fond of the bear. It is thought that Christopher Robin named his bear Winnie after Winnipeg.
London Zoo has two statues commemorating this. A large statue of Lieutenant Harry Colebourn with Winnipeg can be found in the Children's Zoo. A smaller statue portraying Winnipeg as a bear cub is situated behind the Reptile House. There is also a plaque telling visitors about the story on the wall at bear mountain.
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