Format Hardcover
Publication Date 04/04/17
ISBN 9781681773568
Trim Size / Pages 9.3 x 6.4 in / 368

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The Zoo

The Wild and Wonderful Tale of the Founding of London Zoo: 1826-1851

Isobel Charman

Set in the heart of swirling, Dickensian London, the wondrous history of a unique institution and the incredible characters—human and animal—that populated it.

The founding of a zoo in Georgian London is a story of jaw-dropping audacity in the Age of Empire. It is the story of diplomats, traders, scientists, and aristocratic amateur naturalists charged by Sir Stamford Raffles with collecting amazing creatures from all four corners of the globe.

It is the story of the first zoo in history, a weird and wonderful oasis in the heart of the filthy, swirling city of Dickensian London, and of the incredible characters, both human and animal, that populated it—from Charles Darwin and Queen Victoria to Obaysch the celebrity hippo, the first that anyone in Britain had ever seen. This is a story of Victorian grandeur, of science and empire, and of adventurers and charlatans.

And it is the story of a dizzying age of Empire and industrialization, a time of change unmatched before or since.

This is the extraordinary story of London Zoo.

Isobel Charman is an award-winning television producer. She has spent the last decade working in factual documentary production as a writer, researcher, producer, and director and has worked on award-winning films for U.K., European, and U.S. broadcasters. For The Zoo, she has made unprecedented use of the vast archives at the Zoological Society of London. She lives in London.

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Endorsements & Reviews

“In her charming, engaging narrative, the author deftly assumes the points of view of her characters, in the spirit of a Victorian novelist. A deeply researched, terrifically entertaining exploration of the London Zoo ‘through the eyes of some of the people who made it happen.’” Kirkus Reviews
“An affecting narrative of the first 25 years of the Zoological Society of London through the stories of seven of its most influential contributors. Charman provides historical and atmospheric details of the era through the eyes of her characters. The book is nuanced, often entertaining, and also tragic, as the Society faced massive mortality rates in its early years.” Publishers Weekly
“Deeply moving, fascinating and powerful.” The Sunday Mirror
“A vivid, panoramic account of the first great public zoo. An intriguing account of a colorful story immersed in Dickensian times.” Foreword Reviews
“Charman's great achievement is to let the people who lived through all this speak for themselves. You will be torn between admiration, pity and anger.” The Herald
“This is a deeply sobering, essential read.” Bookbag