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Recent Zoo History publication:"Menagerie the History of Exotic Animals in England"

Discussion in 'TV, Movies, Books about Zoos & Wildlife' started by Tim May, 13 Feb 2016.

  1. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    ZooChatters interested in zoo history might like to know about the very recent publication:-

    Menagerie:- The History of Exotic Animals in England (Caroline Grigson; 2016)

    I purchased a copy this afternoon; I‘ve not had time to study the book thoroughly yet but it appears to be a essential acquisition for anyone interested in zoo history.

    The topics covered include the Tower Menagerie; the Exeter Change Menagerie; 19th century travelling menageries; the Royal Menageries (Hampton Court, Richmond and Kew); the giraffe belonging to King George IV; the Surrey Zoological Garden.........
     
  2. Crowthorne

    Crowthorne Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for the info Tim, will have to check this book out, sounds interesting :)
     
  3. sooty mangabey

    sooty mangabey Well-Known Member

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    Having purchased this book a couple of months ago, I have finally got around to reading it.

    I would say that it is very good, and certainly an essential read for anyone with any interest in the history of wild animals in captivity. It is packed with anecdotes, some familiar, some less so.

    The only criticism I would make is that Caroline Grigson writes as if she were compiling a catalogue - thus, each chapter is, in a sense, a list of facts or events, without any attempt to impose an overarching narrative on them. I think it is the job of the historian to be able to draw together such disparate facts, and to find the thread that ties them all together. For example, I would have appreciated this discussion of keeping animals to be placed against the social backdrop of the time that is covered, but although this is alluded to, occasionally, it is very much in the background. So, the term 'industrial revolution' does not appear once, even though I would suspect that the popularity of C18th and C19th travelling menageries may have had something to do with the increased urbanisation of the population, and the subsequent disconnection from nature. I would have found this sort of overview every bit as interesting as the information that a leopard appeared in this year, and a lion in that year....
     
  4. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Having now also read the book, it met my original expectations, so I agree with you, “Sooty”.

    I am intrigued by the list of species (page 217) at Wombell’s menagerie
    “....zebras, kangaroos, camels, a nilghai, a ’sea cow’ (manatee?), various small cats... ..”

    A manatee seems a most unlikely animal for a travelling menagerie if, indeed, it really was one. (I was unaware of anywhere in the UK other than London Zoo, Brighton Aquarium and the old Westminster Aquarium ever having manatees.)
     
  5. Tim Brown

    Tim Brown Well-Known Member

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    The best of an average bunch of suchlike books recently..but honestly,Grigson claims to be a zoologist - there are far too many mistakes to take her seriously.And she thinks nothing strange about someone having a "heated aquarium" in 1818! In the previous paragraph to that she identifies a SUNDA Clouded Leopard from Sumatra..very good - but generically Felis? Theres far too much of this kind of thing...slack work Grigson,slack work.
     
  6. Tim Brown

    Tim Brown Well-Known Member

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    And Tim(May), i wouldnt take Grigson too literally re. the "sea cow"..somewhere in the book she identifies a "mongooz" from Madagascar that ate living fish and birds as a Sanfords Brown Lemur!!..beware folks...shes a zoologist(or perhaps has a zoology degree,the two things can be very different).
     
  7. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I thought that my earlier post made it quite clear that I was doubtful about the manatee and that I wasn’t taking it literally....
     
  8. Tim Brown

    Tim Brown Well-Known Member

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    I suppose you did reading it again...just reinforces the essential nonsense that the author has got away with.To damn the book with faint praise...its better than nothing(and the other two recent books on a similar subject).
     
  9. Tim Brown

    Tim Brown Well-Known Member

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    Just to put a final cap on this one,because I sound cynical and negative whereas Sooty and Tim are not...if I wrote a book on the history of Manchester United and got the players names wrong from time to time, people would call me a fool.Thats just what the author of "Menageries" has done.
     
  10. Tim Brown

    Tim Brown Well-Known Member

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    Not got footballers names wrong obviously(you know what I mean).
     
  11. sooty mangabey

    sooty mangabey Well-Known Member

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    Alas, if she had muddled Peter Bodak with Terry Gibson, and misrepresented Jeff Wealands's career at "the Theatre of Dreams" ©, that truly would be a heinous error....
     
  12. Tim Brown

    Tim Brown Well-Known Member

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    Hmm.. the Sanfords Brown Lemur "howler",is more like mixing Terry Gibson up with Garth Crooks !!(Its often forgotten the the now-portly T.V. pundit had a short career as a red).
     
  13. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I have no interest whatsoever in football so I cannot make a direct comment about your football analogy; I assume that the people referred to are football players but their names mean absolutely nothing to me.

    However, returning to the discussion of this book:-

    Why are you so sure that the author is wrong to identify the Madagascan “mongooz” as a Sandford’s brown lemur?

    The animal in question was owned by a Mrs Kennon who lived in London. The well known naturalist George Edwards drew a picture of the “mongooz” and reading his original description of this specimen there is little doubt that it was a lemur.

    Mrs Kennon informed Edwards that it ate fruit, herbs and almost anything including fish; admittedly eating fish isn’t typical lemur behaviour but captive animals often eat unusual foods.
     
  14. MikeG

    MikeG Well-Known Member

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    Having now had a chance to look at Edwards' illustration, I can say (a) yes it's a lemur but (b) there's nothing that suggests to me that it's a Sanford's.
    Possibly a female Mongoose Lemur? I'd say we can't make a precise identification based on the quality of the picture - e.g. the animal's very long, thin tail doesn't look realistic for a Eulemur.
     
  15. Tim Brown

    Tim Brown Well-Known Member

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    But its not only the Sanfords is it? Dholes are described as being from Java(well perhaps,but a lot of other countries as well),cassowaries as being 5 feet tall (some are ,one species isnt),helmeted curassows are from south and CENTRAL america(former yes,latter no)..and there are lots more.As i said previously its just slack work,and irritating as far as im concerned.By the way..and more in the nature of an oversight,Agasse`s famous painting "The Nubian Giraffe" which adorns the dust jacket is said to be from 1927 rather than 1827.