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Whale Island Zoo , Portsmouth , Hampshire ...Approx (1913 -1940)

Discussion in 'Zoo History' started by zoowhosewho, 20 Feb 2020.

  1. zoowhosewho

    zoowhosewho Well-Known Member

    22 Mar 2019


    I was intrigued about this Zoo having read Clinton Keeling book "Where The Crane Danced" ... Mr Keeling wrote about a visit he had with his wife to Whale Island ... He wrote that the Zoo was established in approximately 1913 and that it all started with 2 Kangaroos ... He goes on to state that there were Polar Bears , Lions , Various Monkeys , Porcupines , Owls , Storks , Flamingo and Raven ... So I have dug a little deeper and have found the following

    Whale Island itself was established as a Naval Gunnery School and currently it is a Naval base for HMS Excellent ... Part of the Island was known as the "Captains Garden " and it was here that animals that came back with Navy personnel on Naval Ships mainly ended up at the "Zoo"

    In April 1914 it was reported that since Commander Backhouse was at the Island animal pens were expanding and there was a first class Aviary Containing all sorts of rare waterfowl , Pheasants , Peacocks and Cranes

    By 12th September 1924 3 Beavers had been presented . ...HMS Renown brought a Leopard to the Zoo , HMS Malaya brought a Bear to the Zoo.

    January 1932 saw a benefactor named Mr E Spedan Lewis (who I believe to be related to the John Lewis Department Store founder) ... He gave funds that added 10 Aviary Flights to the East of the Wallaby enclosure , 2 separate runs for the Bears and Porcupines and a Monkey House was converted out of an older Aviary .. Mr Lewis presented Owls , Macaws , Parrots , Bear , Porcupine and Monkeys for the Monkey House ...An Agouti also arrived from a separate source

    April 1935 saw an appeal for a Bear to replace one of the Bears that had passed away ... 1 Bear was donated and one was loaned by Lord and Lady Mountbatten

    In May 1936 4 Lion Cubs were born to Peter and Lola the resident Lion and Lioness .. Unfortunately one Cub was stillborn ....also quite separately 2 Polar Bear Cubs were presented to the Zoo (they were named Barbara and Nicholas)

    11th September 1936 Lola the Lioness and 2 of her cubs passed away (one female named Topsy was left from the litter of 4) .. Mr Seth Smith from London Zoo visited and claimed they died of "Cat Disease" and the death was caused by some form of Internal Poisoning

    By 17th September 1936 all domestic cats on Whale Island were rounded up and then either Deported or Destroyed .... a Tiger had passed away of a similar illness at London Zoo recently stated Mr Seth Smith

    By November 1936 a new Lioness called Lorna had been acquired along with 2 unrelated 6 Month Old Male Lion Cubs (named Rex and Josephine)

    By August 1938 Lorna and Peter had 4 cubs 1 female cub died and 3 Male Cubs survived .

    3rd May 1939 a 10 year old boy was mauled by 2 Lions when he either fell or climbed into their enclosure ... Topsy the 3 year old Lioness was one of the attackers ... The boy had badly lacerated legs but survived thanks to 3 brave Naval personnel who fought the Lions off.

    Sadness filled the air on 17th May 1940 when all the Animals at Whale Island Zoo were shot dead for fear of Air Raids on the Gunnery School ... It had been widely thought that the Animals had been rehoused elsewhere.

    In November 1945 a book was written by Joy Packer a South African Author of Autobiographies and novels ...She was married to Sir Herbert Packer a British Admiral who had some connection to the Whale Island Naval Base ... 2 Books that may be of interest to Zoologists are "Pack and Follow " which has references to the Zoo and the other is "Apes and Ivory"

    1st Image a Sailor (from HMS Excellent) and Mona the Monkey from 1932 and 2nd Image is Barbara and Nicholas the Polar Bear Cubs from 1936 ...3rd image Joy Packers book "Pack and Follow"