The Garden Guide

Book: London Parks and Gardens, 1907
Chapter: Chapter 4 Regent's Park

Zoological Society of London

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The third and best known of the societies is the Zoological one. What London child has not spent moments of supreme joy mingled with awe on the back of the forbearing elephant ? And there are few grown persons who do not share with them the delight of an hour's stroll through the "Zoo." More than ever, with the improved aviaries and delighful seal ponds, is the Zoo attractive. It was the first of the three Societies to settle in the Park, having been there since 1826. Some of the original buildings were designed by Decimus Burton, who, next to Nash, is the architect most associated with the Park. The Society was the idea of Sir Thomas Raffles, who became the first President in 1825. In three years there were over 12,000 members, and the gardens were thronged by 30,000 visitors. A pass signed by a member was necessary for the admission of every party of people, besides the payment of a shilling each. An abuse of this soon crept in, and people waited at the gates to attach themselves to the parties entering, and well-dressed young ladies begged the kindness of members who were seen approaching the gates. Now only Sunday admittance is dependent on the members. A Guide to Regent's Park in 1829 gives engravings of many of the animals, and shows the summer quarters of the monkeys-most quaint arrangements, like a pigeon cot on a pole, to which the monkey with chain and ring was attached, to race up and down at will.