Sunday, June 24, 2012

Titania -The First Performing African Elephant in Australasia

Illustrated Australian News 21 February 1877

In the years 1877 and 1878, the huge Cooper & Bailey's Circus and Menagerie toured Australasia. Amongst the long list of animals were a group of six elephants. Two were Asiatic elephants named Prince and Queen, with the remainder being three young African elephants with an adult female named Titania. According to one article I came across in the Australian digital newspapers, Titania was named for the fairy queen of the same name a main character in the Shakespeare play A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Titania is one of the main characters in Shakespeare's A Midsummer’s Night Dream.  She is the queen of the fairies, and the wife of the fairy king, Oberon. In folklore, the fairy queen has no name. Shakespeare took the name 'Titania' for his fairy queen from the Roman poet, Ovid (43 BC - AD 18). In his great epic Metamorphoses , Ovid gives this name to the deities Latona, Pyrrha, Diana and Circe, as descendants of the Titans, the powerful gods and goddesses, who, according to Greek myth, ruled the world in the beginning.

The circus toured Australasia for some 18 months with a brief few months break in Sydney while further animals were sought which included what would later be the first rhinoceros to visit the colonies.

The tour of the Cole & Bailey Circus was extensively covered through out its duration. I spent some time going through the multitudes of articles and advertising to ascertain how many elephants were in the group brought over for the tour which is how I came across Titania.

 ....Further on are the elephants. These consist of two fine but not very large specimens of the Indian or Asiatic elephant, named Queen and Prince, and four African or wide-eared variety. One large one, Titania, performs in the circle, and three restless and noisy juveniles, one of which is a mere baby, belong to this class....
.. Mr. Johnston next introduces his trained elephant Titania, which shows great intelligence and dexterity for so ponderous a brute. It dances in the ring, lies down, and balances itself on a pedestal at the word of command…
South Australian Register 12 March 1877

 Throughout their Australian tour the six elephants did attract a lot of attention. The newspapers of the time were keen to describe these great leviathans with as much detail as possible. Being of the African subspecies Titania would have been far larger than her Ceylonese cousins Queen and Prince.

...The largest elephant is the biggest and the best beggar. He opens his mouth when, ordered, lays his trunk over his shoulder, and waits fur whatever the public may be pleased to pitch into it…
The Cornwall Chronicle 8 April 1877

 Titania was a well proven and well trained performer for the travelling circus. She was trained by G. W. Johnston to perform a number of routines under the big top
…After this pageant the great performing elephant  " Titania" was introduced, and excited amusement and surprise at her ungainly appearance,  yet clever performances. She first waltzed round the ring, keeping time to the music of the band; she then walked round on three legs, holding up alternately one fore and one hind leg; she next went round on her knees, and finally mounted with the greatest caution on two pedestals, one about two feet high, and the other rather over three feet high, standing with her hind feet on the lower one, and her fore feet on the other, and at last gathering all her feet together on the high pedestal, where there was just room enough for them; she turned round and round at the bidding of her keeper, and then on one hind and one fore foot holding up the two opposite ones. Before leaving she bowed low to the audience and gently flapped her enormous ears… 

The South Australian Advertiser 12 March 1877

…The trained elephant Titania was then brought forward, and proved itself to be a most sagacious animal At the command of its trainer, Mr. G. W. Johnson, the animal shuffled round the ring, sometimes on four legs, sometimes on throe, and occasionally partly on its knees. It bowed to the spectators in recognition of their applause, and showed other proofs of mental power….

The Argus 19 January 1877

During May 1877 the circus took a recess in Sydney over the winter period, with plans to restart again with the tour in November in the same year. The menagerie was left in the care of keepers while the rest of the circus company headed back to the USA. Bailey one of the owners planned to return from San Francisco with a number of new exhibits for the menagerie including a rhinoceros, polar bears, and bison.

Respecting Messrs. Cooper and Bailey's Circus and menagerie, the Sydney Morning Herald states that the company will visit the provinces, and afterwards the circus will leave the colony for San Francisco. The menagerie will be left behind in Sydney, in charge of competent keepers; and for its accommodation a wooden building is being put up by Hudson Brothers. Mr. Bailey intends to return about November next with large additions to the menagerie, including polar bears, buffaloes, a rhinoceros, and a greatly reinforced circus company. An agent goes in the meantime to India, there to procure further accessions to the present combination.

The South Australian Advertiser 16 May 1877

In November the circus returned with some of the promised animals. The number of elephants advertised remained at six animals

...A HUGE BLACK HAIRY RHINOCEROS, (the only one over captured alive)

 Advertisement Australian Town and Country Journal 17 November 1877

 The menagerie though had suffered some serious losses which included a Quagga, hippopotamus calf, warhogs, walruses, seals and a giraffe amongst the list of animals dying as a result of the effects of long sea voyages. Nevertheless the show continued on despite the loss of some of their star attractions

...Besides the elephants the camels, the lions, the tiger and other animals with which the previous visitors may be familiar, there are also introduced to our notice a double horned hairy rhinoceros a North American bison, and an elk. We miss the graceful long necked giraffe, which has paid the debt of nature and caused a loss not easily replaced. Since its return bore on this occasion the menagerie has suffered an other loss in the death of the hippopotamus this animal, which, including the cost of capture, represented a value of something like £2000 died yesterday morning quite unexpectedly, as when the menagerie was closed on the previous evening it appeared in its usual health. One of the Alaska seals has also died here...
 ... The performances of the trained elephants show in a marked degree the intelligence and docility of the anímals...
The Argus 27 December 1877

In early 1878 the circus headed over to New Zealand to tour the country. This would be the first time African elephants were seen in the country. An Asiatic elephant from Nepal named Prince Tommy, or "Tom" had been brought to Australia and New Zealand in 1870 by Prince Albert but Australasia had yet to see his larger African cousins. Cooper and Bailey obliged seven years later with a total of four in the tour.

....A huge elephant, called Titania, then comes into the ring, and is put through a variety, of feats by the trainer, Professor Johnson. These were loudly applauded....

.. Presently three elephants are brought in, and after some performances over the backs of these, three camels are added and Mr Batchelor turns a grand double somersault over the whole of these....
Otago Daily Times 16 March 1878

The performing elephant Titania was crossing the enclosure with her keeper, and the latter as they passed the fruit stand in the centre, quietly drew after him a case of apples. Titania was not slow to improve the occasion, and commenced stowing away the apples with magic celerity, while her roguish keeper had made himself scarce. The attendant of the stall dared not venture to approach his fast disappearing: stock, and had therefore to hunt up the Keeper, who when he appeared on the scene artistically scolded Titania for having stolen the apples, and then treated her to a bottle of ginger beer, a beverage which she unmistakably enjoyed.

Star 2 April 1878

…The elephant known as Titania was employed running the vans on to the railway trucks….

…The spotted dogs, which have attracted so much attention on account of the strong friendship existing between them and the elephants, were fully conscious of the near departure, and were indulging in all kinds of antics with' their huge companions…
Star 10 April 1878

Elephant Trainer G.W. Johnson gave an interesting interview to the Lyttleton Times (reproduced in the Timaru Herald) during the tour on the training of the elephants in his charge.

The following interesting chat by the Special of that journal with the Lion King of Messrs Cooper and Bailey's Menagerie is published in the Lyttelton Times

 My experience has been considerable, for I have been more than 20 years m the profession. As a trainer? Yes. I trained the performing animals in this collection. Of course you already know what Titania, the female African elephant can do. Prince, one of the Indian elephants, performs at least as well as Titania, and appears in the ring when a change is made in the programme. The other has been accustomed to perform in company, to form pyramids, &c, but the apparatus required for these feats would increase the baggage of a travelling company too largely.

The three small elephants have not yet been educated. Do I ever use any tackling to teach them to lift their feet just as required Oh, dear, no. The only implement I ever employed was a slight stick, with a brad on one end, and by slight touches, and in other ways I made them understand what I wanted them to do. Once shown anything, they never forget it. Well, I think that on the whole the elephants are easy to manage.

 Only the males are at all uncertain. I mean by that, by becoming vicious. Once, in the way one or other of the females there you are now looking at will be subject to fits of irritation, and if anyone goes close to her she will push him away with her trunk. Queen, especially, will do this. The males, as they get older, get more and more uncertain and vicious, until it becomes very dangerous to have to do with them.

Timaru Herald 18 April 1878

Johnston was experienced enough a trainer that he could lay on the ground during a performance and allow Titania to step over him 

 The performance commenced with a grand triumphal cavalcade of the entire company. The trained elephant Titania then executed some very clever tricks, such as waltzing round the ring in excellent time, walking on its knees, and, after ascending to the top of a pedestal, balancing 1 itself on one, two, or three feet, finally stepping carefully over the trainer, Professor Johnson, without touching him, as he lay extended on the ground.
 Evening Post 15 April 1878

 Throughout the New Zealand tour Titania continued to perform flawlessly. The Waikato Times described her performance as "one of the special wonders of the evening"

…This was followed by the performances of Titania, a huge female elephant, under the direction of her trainer, Professor G. W. Johnson. This was one of the special wonders of the evening. The elephant danced, balanced herself on a two foot disc, first by the two off legs, then by the near legs, and then cross-legged, The trainer laid down, and the gigantic animal stepped across him, studious to avoid touching him with her feet. The sagacity manifested m this performance elicited loud applause…

Waikato Times 25 April 1878

In Auckland, however,  tragedy struck. Just before the circus company was due to sail on the Golden Sea for South America, Titania died after eating matches and a quantity of pills from a keeper's pocket. It later transpired in another report that she had also eaten part of the man's coat tail. Her carcass was loaded on board ship for disposal at sea.

The celebrated performing elephant Titania, belonging to Messrs Cooper and Bailey's show, departed this life on board the ship Golden Sea on Saturday night, it is believed from the effects of eating a box of wax vestas, and a quantity or pills, which it obtained from the coat of one of the keepers, that had been hanging near the animal. The loss will be a severe one to the owners. The carcase was taken away by the ship yesterday, and will be thrown overboard when the vessel gets clear away from land.
Auckland Star 6 May 1878

Messrs Cooper and Bailey had the misfortune to lose their big performing elephant, Titania, on board the Golden Sea, just before sailing from Auckland. It is believed that the cause of death was the animal's eating a box of pills and a box of matches. The dead animal was taken out to sea to be cast overboard, at which we have heard surprise expressed. It was suggested in our hearing that, although perhaps a difficult and expensive job, it would have been well to have procured the carcase, boiled it down, and set up the skeleton for the Auckland museum. One enterprising townsman of ours said he wished he had been in Auckland; he would have speculated a ten-pound note on Titania, put her on board a lighter and exhibited her at the Thames as long as she would keep. He said plenty of people have seen live elephants, but few have seen a dead one. It certainly seems a pity that no better use could be made of the dead elephant than to be taken and cast into the sea as food for sharks.

Thames Star 7 May 1878

During June Titania's carcass was spotted floating in the sea off the coast of New Zealand by a passing ship
"It will be remembered that a few hours before Messrs Cooper and Bailey's Menagerie and Circus Troupe sailed in the ship Golden Sea, for Callao, the manager reported the death of the large elephant Titania, caused by devouring a box of matches, a dose of Holloway's pills, and part of the keeper's coat-tail, which it was alleged had proved too much for the digestive organs of the animal.

Many persons have been very skeptical as to the death of the animal, as no one to our knowledge saw it dead.

The following report made to us yesterday by the master of the cutter Diamond, however, appears to set the question at rest:— The Diamond was bound from the Thames to this port on Friday last, and at 4 p.m., when two miles north-east of Orere Point, noticed what appeared to be a boat bottom upwards. Bore down to it and got within a few yards, when they discovered it to be a huge carcase, and from its flappers being prominently out of the water, have no doubt it is the elephant thrown overboard by Messrs Cooper and Bailey. "

Otago Daily Times 3 June 1878

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Beaumaris Zoo (Hobart Zoo) Part 3 - A charitable monkey

 Forester or Eastern Grey Kangaroo

May saw Arthur Reid returning from a trip around Tasmania to collect further species for the growing zoo. During the expedition he had managed to capture a Forester or Easter grey kangaroo (Macropus giganteus) . The marsupial was sent first by road then rail to Hobart but died on the way. Examiner 4 May 1923

A meeting of the Council on April 30 raised the question of charges for groups of children from schools groups, girl guides and boy scouts. The Reserves Committee recommended that on the application of a teacher in charge, or another authorised person, school children visiting the zoo in classes of a minimum of twelve would be admitted for a charge of 1d. each. Mercury 1 May 1923

..The question of the charges for the admission of school children, girl guides, and boy scouts to the Beaumaris Zoo was brought up at last night's meeting of the City Council, when the Reserves Committee recommended that on the application of a teacher in charge, or another authorised person, school children desirous of visiting the Zoo in classes to a minimum of twelve, be admitted for the charge of Id. each, the same to apply to girl guides and boy scouts. On the motion of Alderman Soundy the recommendation was agreed to....

 Duck-billed Platypus

Further gifts of animals and birds by local citizens began to help the collection grow. Australian native fauna began to feature strongly in the Beaumaris zoological collection. The zoo saw the gifting of its first Duck-billed Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) by Mr Geard. Mr Castimay added a bandicoot, with black and grey possums also added to further the captive marsupial population.  Japanese Silkie fowl , fancy rabbits and a Black Jay were also given as gifts. Mercury 5 May 1923

The zoo also saw the arrival of its first pair of ostriches, along with prairie dogs, and a pair of black tailed wallabies had accompanied the birds from the Melbourne Zoological Gardens. Mercury 19 May 1923

...Recent additions to the Beaumaris Zoo include some exchanges the authorities have made with the Zoological Gardens of Melbourne These consist of a pair of ostriches, half-a dozen prairie dogs, and a pair of black-tailed wallaby In addition, exchanges of animals were made with the persons in charge of the consignment of birds recently at Hobart on board the s s Medic en route to the London Zoo, and some very valuable birds were obtained. These comprise a few of the handsome Blue Mountain lorikeets, the rare Superb or Baraband parrot, and the Queensland cat-bird. A red deer and several monkeys are expected to arrive within the next fortnight...

 Rhesus Macaque or Rhesus Monkey

In June ten Rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) arrived from Sydney's Taronga Park Zoo, and were housed near the Wedge-tailed eagle enclosure. The enclosure built for the small primates had an interesting almost human-like aspect applied to its construction

"... They have been provided with a specially constructed house, perched up on the side of a cliff, with doors, windows, and chimney complete..."

 Building operations at the zoo grounds were well under way with the lion enclosure almost complete, the concreting work had been considerable with only the roofing of the summer shelter within the den, and the iron railings down the sides left to erect. A future plan was to include a band rotunda for summer concerts to be sited near where the lions would soon reside.

The Tea Kiosk with proposed seating for 200 people was being constructed to the right of the entrance gates, combining a shop where visitors could buy peanuts and other food to feed the animals with.

...  It is octagonal in design, 70ft. in circumference, with a verandah 10ft. in width, and capable of accommodating about 200 people. Combined with it will be a shop, where peanuts and other articles to feed the animals may be purchased, the revenue from which will go to the funds of the zoo....

The duck pond was enhanced with islets created out of stone and the planting of palms planned to give the birds shelter from the elements.

Further gifts of animals and birds continued to increase the list of species the zoo now housed. These included Red Deer from Adelaide,3 Mallard Ducks, 1 black duck, 1 teal duck, 1 black possum, 1 hare, 1 porcupine, 1 rat-kangaroo, 1 rosella, 1 fantail pigeon, 1 fancy rabbit, 1 chestnut faced owl, 1 ring-tail possum, 1 fancy rabbit, kangaroos and a wedge-tail eagle. A further consignment of birds from Adelaide was also expected. Mercury 16 June 1923

With large birds of prey housed right beside the monkey enclosure interesting events were bound to happen. A wedge-tail eagle had caught its talon in the mesh of the flight aviary. While the bird flapped and struggled to free itself, one of the rhesus monkeys took an interest and subsequently extracted the eagle's imprisoned talon from the mesh. Released the bird flew off and sat for some time staring back at its rescuer so it was 
reported with some surprise at its rescuer. Mercury 22 June 1923

In early July a second Thylacine had arrived at the zoo. It appears the unfortunate animal had a leg injury from the snare trap it had been caught in. Due to the injury the marsupial was not put on public display for the time being. Mercury 7 July 1923

The Next Meeting will be held at the Tasmanian Museum on Friday, July 13th,
at 8 p.m.
Lecture, "Zoological Notes," by A. R. Reid, Curator of the Beaumaris Zoo.
- C.E.L.,
 Hon. Sec.

 Advertisement Mercury 11 July 1923

Arthur Reid the curator was invited by the Tasmanian Field Nautralists Cub to give a lecture on "Zoological notes" Reid in his speech gives an interesting insight on the characteristics of the animals and birds in the zoo he curated. It also reveals Mr Reid was no lover of hawks and appeared to have no interest in protecting the raptors, after he proposed in his lecture to have all hawks removed from the protected list.

The greater part of the evening was devoted to a lecture on the animals and birds of the Beaumaris Zoo by the curator, Mr. A. R. Reid, in the course of which he dealt in a popular way with the lives of the lions, monkeys, and the birds, more especially the hawks. 

The lions, he said, were l8 months old, and, although they had not reached maturity, they were well developed, and in excel lent condition, the cold climate apparently in no way affecting them, as some people had prophesied.

 The lion, whose same was Douglas, was amiable and friendly, and did not object to having his nose rubbed by his keeper through the bars of his cage; but the lioness was of a totally different disposition, and stood no such liberties. She greeted everyone with a snarl. He hoped to have them out in the new quarters in about four weeks time. 

The wombats were fond of one another's company, and all tried to squeeze in a small shelter, huddling up together when other boxes provided for them were vacant. 

 The monkeys had come all the way from India, and, having experienced a very trying sea voyage were in a poor condition upon arrival at the zoo, but they bad since picked up wonderfully, and were the principal animals, of interest in the whole place.

Mr. Reid went on to deal with the hawks and other birds of prey. The swamp hawk, he said, was the most plentiful of the hawks in Tasmania. He bore it no love, since among all hawks it was the greatest enemy of the quail and other small birds. Its only redeeming feature was that it killed small rabbits, but not too many of these. 

During his residence in Tasmania for the last 30 years no fewer than 800 hawks of all species had passed through his hands, and from ins examination of the contents of their crops, and his experience in the field, he was of the opinion that, with the. exception of the white goshawk, which fed mostly on rats and mice, and the little kestrel, whose diet mostly comprised insects and worms, all the hawks should be removed from the protected list. 

He would have his opponents in this connection, but he had proved that the hawks destroyed a great many smaller 'birds and pigeons, and were not as desirable as they were mode out to be.

In the 23 weeks since the zoo had first opened the statistics were showing the new attraction was a popular distraction to the visiting public. A total of  44,206 visitors, averaging 1,922 per week with total receipts comprising of mainly gate takings of £812. Mercury 18 July 1923

More birds and animals were added to the collection including a male ostrich from Melbourne. Mercury 21 July 1923

...Visitors to the Beaumaris Zoo during the weekend will see some new birds that have been added to the institution. One of these is a fine male ostrich from Melbourne, with handsome black and white plumage..

During late July it was reported that the Governor-General had issued a proclamation that the Beaumaris Zoological Gardens was to be a quarantine station for animals. Mercury 25 July 1923

By the end of July Reid had advised that the lions were soon to be liberated into their new surroundings. The monkeys were thriving, and the gifts of new animals from local citizens continued to flow in. Beaumaris looked forward to becoming a true municipal zoo. Mercury 30 July 1923

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Beaumaris Zoo (Hobart Zoo) Part 2 - Lions and Devils oh my


 The New Beaumaris Zoo (February - April 1923)

Lions and Escaped Devils

Within days of the new zoo being opened, Arthur Reid the curator was faced with the arrival of further animals to the Beaumaris Zoo.

On the day of the opening the two Tasmanian Devils gifted to the zoo escaped from their enclosure. The two marsupials were found hiding under a culvert. Despite efforts to recapture the escapees the devils continued to elude Reid and his staff's efforts to see them back in the security of an enclosure.Mercury 12 February 1923

Baits were laid and taken on several occasions over the course of a week, despite them being taken the pair continued to evade capture. Finally Reid constructed a box trap. Baiting it with lamb's heart, he left it near the entrance to the culvert where the devils had hidden themselves. On 17 February almost two weeks after their disappearance the errant pair of Tasmanian Devils were successfully trapped and returned to their now reinforced enclosure. Mercury 19 February 1923

The lions gifted by Taronga Park Zoo had arrived from Melbourne on the State steamer on 11 February 1923. Arrangements had been made by Reid to have the felids taken directly to the zoo and housed in a temporary den. However that plan ran foul of the authorities who required the animals to pass an inspection by an officer of the Stock Department. The open air enclosure was still two weeks away from completion, so the temporary housing Reid had arranged.

On the pair of one year old lions the Mercury (12 February 1923) had commented ; -

"Judging from what could be seen of the beasts in their dark cage aboard the vessel last night, they are a splendid pair, being healthy and exceedingly well grown for their age, which is about a year. They are lion and lioness, and the conditions under which they will live should result in their development  into exceptionally fine specimens of the noble denizen of the jungle. They certainly will be a great attraction at  the Zoo."

On 12 February Hobart City Council on the recommendation of the Reserves Committee set the initial entrance charges for the new zoo at 6d for Adults and 3d. for Children under 12 years of age. Mercury 13 February 1923

Gifts of further animals of further animals and reptiles were presented to the Hobart City Council with two black possums and a 'native cat' (quoll) being made by Mr W. Fitzackerly and two tortoises presented by Mrs Fitzackerley for the zoo,. Mercury 14 February 1923

Hobart City Council at a meeting on 26 February set the opening hours and a special fixed rate for children set. Mercury 27 February 1923

"...Opening Hours. That the days and hours during which the Zoo be open to the public be as follows:-Mondays to Fridays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

 Charges for Children on Saturdays, That on Saturdays only the charge for admission for children under 12 years, between 10 a.m.-and 1 p.m., be reduced to twopence...."

Starving Possums and a citizen's concern

On March 2 a letter appeared in the Mercury headed "Starving Possums". The correspondence to the editor of the Mercury was signed 'A. Cawthorn' and the words of the writer were bitterly critical of the diet chosen for the black possums or 'opossums' as they were termed. Cawthorn also noted the state of a Ring-tailed  Possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus) being left forgotten and alone in what was termed a 'filthy box placed on the ground'. It appeared the writer had more knowledge than the curator of the zoo on the keeping of the small marsupials and how to house them. Mercury 2 March 1923

I wish to draw your attention to the disgraceful conditions of feeding of the black opossums at the Beaumaris Zoo. If a zoo is necessary for education or scientific purposes there is no need for anyone to be cruel. It is bad enough to keep these creatures in captivity, without starving them to make their lives harder. I saw the opossums being fed yesterday.
Most of them are skeletons of their former selves. Their meal consisted of a few hard, mouldy crusts of bread, and a couple of handfuls of grass from the lawn mower. If bread is to be given, why not decent bread, with fruit and vegetables, such as apples, bananas, carrots, lettuce, etc.? Only starving opossums would eat what I saw given them, and they did not get enough of that.
They have no bed at all, not a leaf or a straw; they feel the cold, and in the bush make themselves comfortable nests of leaves. I also saw a poor little ringtail opossum which appeared to be forgotten, in a filthy box placed flat on the ground.
Cannot something be done to relieve the bufferings of these beautiful defenceless creatures? In the meantime, I would ask every kind-hearted visitor to the Zoo to take them something to cat I understand they are only fed at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, and if this is so, what must their nights be like, which is their proper feeding time?

With such an embarrassing issue raised, where animal welfare was concerned, the Hobart City Council was quick to respond Mercury 3 March 1923

The Town Clerk (Mr. W. A. Brain) points out that the criticism by a correspondent in yesterday's "Mercury" regarding the manner in which the black opossums at the Beaumaris Zoo arc fed has apparently been based upon a misconception of the facts.
The routine followed by the curator of the zoo (Mr, A. R. Reid) is to give the opossums a snack of bread and newly-mown grass daily at 3 o'clock in the afternoon so that visitors may see them feed. 
The real dining hour of the opossums is at 5 p.m., when they receive a liberal allowance of boiled grain and a mixture of bran and pollard. They are also given apples, pears, and lettuce. The latter food is rarely ever completely eaten up, and it is necessary to remove remains in the morning;
Regarding bedding for the opossums, the curator points out that neither the black nor the grey opossum makes nests, but sleeps in the holes of trees without bedding of any kind. In reference to the ringtail, opossum which was seen in "a box on the ground, this animal had only just arrived and 'had not been removed from the box in which it came.

Further presentations of new animals and birds were added to the increasing zoological collection with the gifting of three emus by Mrs Cater Propsting . The birds were obtained from Lighting Ridge in Queensland and imported to Tasmania by Mr and Mrs J. M. Jenkins . Six Tasmanian Native Hens (Gallinula mortierii) presented by the Hon. William B. Propsting, a Black Swan Cygnus atratus by Mrs Boxall, two wallabies by Mr Casimaty and a Mrs King, and lastly, a white hawk by Mr Enslow were also gifted. Mercury 10 March 1923

Near the end of March Kookaburras (Dacelo novaeguineae) soon added their laughing calls to the further contributions made by citizens to their new zoo. Amongst the list of species added were White Cockatoos (Cacatua alba), Galahs (Eolophus roseicapilla), King Parrots Alisterus scapularis, Red Winged Parrot (Aprosmictus erythropterus), Red Lories (Eos bornea),three subspecies of Tasmanian Honeyeater , Abderdeen finches (Amadina erythrocephala), Java sparrows, Indian nightingales, Red-whiskered Bulbul, and Strawberry finches were added to the over 100 birds in the avian collection bringing the total to around 180. More fallow deer,  wombats and a ringtail possum were also added.

The new lion enclosure was close to completion with the three terraces formed and the concrete enclosure wall almost finished. Construction of a new monkey enclosure had also been commenced in anticipation of the expected arrivals from Sydney. Mercury 24 March 1923

During April, a large consignment of birds along with a pair of Indian Blackbuck antelope (Antilope cervicapra) arrived from Taronga Park Zoo . A pair of Fairy penguins (Eudyptula minor) had also been added along with other numerous additions given by the citizens of Tasmania to the state's only municipal zoo. Mercury 6 April 1923.

On April 16 the Hobart City Council received a report from the Reserves Committee on the requirements for the zoo. Two turnstiles were needed and quotations for those had been obtained. Charles Davis Ltd was named as the successful supplier with a quotation of £47.Plans were presented for the new Tea Kiosk and approved with tenders to be let out for the construction. Alderman Williams reported that in the three months since the zoo had opened it had  receipts that totalled about £500 with an estimation of around  £1,000 being possibly received for the year. With a visitor total number in the first three month period of 18,000 the future of the municipal zoo looked promising. Mercury 17 April 1923

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Beaumaris Zoo (Hobart) Zoo Part 1 - The Legacy of Beaumaris

The old Hobart Zoo has always been the place where the last known captive Thylacine Benjamin died. Other than that, the history of the zoo has almost vanished from memory. There was far more to what was correctly named Beaumaris Zoo, than just the bad place where Tasmanian Tigers died.

Over the course of 15 years a zoo developed, animals and birds of varying species were brought in from across the world. In 1937, however, the reality of the depression era had set in and Hobart City Council closed the facility down for good.

This post is about how the zoo began . Like Auckland Zoo in New Zealand, Hobart Zoo began with a private collection. This collection had been the work of Mary Grant Roberts a pioneer in the breeding of Tasmanian Devils.

Mrs Mary Grant Roberts of Beaumaris

Beaumaris Zoo was originally located at the property of Mary Grant Roberts at Sandy Bay in Hobart. Mrs Roberts  was a pioneer of the successful breeding of Tasmanian Devils Sarcophilus harrisii.

She presented a paper in June 21 1915  to the Zoological Society of London on the subject. Titled "The Keeping and Breeding of Tasmanian Devils" Mrs Roberts read her paper before the society on 20 October 1915.

This paper was published in the Transactions and Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1915 on page 575.

 We have received a reprint from tho proceedings of the Zoological Society of London of the paper by Mrs. Roberts, C.M.Z.S.. M.R.A.O.U., of Hobart, on "The keeping and breeding of Tasmanian Devils." 
It is a most entertaining record of Mrs. Roberts experiences with the Tasmanian devil in her private zoo. This animal hitherto has had a very bad character, but as Mrs. Roberts depicts him popular opinion upon the subject will have to be revised, for she shows him to be lively, intelligent and capable of affection for his keepers. 
The paper is the first record ever made of the domestic ways of the Tasmanian Devil, and it was at Beaumaris Zoo in 1913 that these, animals first bred in captivity. It may be added that Mrs. Roberts paper has attracted widespread attention, and she is deservedly regarded as the lending authority upon this State's native animals.

After her death in November of 1921 the entire collection of some 200 birds, marsupials, mammals and reptiles, was offered by the Roberts family to the state government. The government however turned down the offer. Hobart City Council agreed to take the collection provided the state government could provide an annual subsidy. A subsidy of  £250 per annum was approved on 10 February 1922, by the government and appropriated for the new zoo.

A message was received from the Administrator of the Government authorising the appropriation of £250 from the consolidated revenue as a subsidy to the Hobart City Council towards the upkeep of the Beaumaris Zoo.

In January of 1922 Hobart City Council had accepted the Roberts family offer, and chose the sight of the Queen's Domain in which to house the Zoological Collection.

The Hobart City Council on Monday accepted from the family of the late Mrs. Mary Roberts the gift of the zoological collection, belonging to that lady. It includes Tasmanian devils and tigers, specimens of other fauna belonging to Tasmania, and a number of foreign animals. The Tasmanian Government has offered a subsidy, and the City Council would provide buildings and caretakers. 
The collection, is known the world over, Mrs. Roberts, who was a member of several zoological societies, having supplied many animals to London, the Australian mainland, and other zoos. In her collection, there occurred the only case on record of the Tasmanian devil breeding in captivity. The City Council has chosen an excellent site for the zoo on the Domain.

Several suggestions for a suitable site in Hobart had been put forward by members of the public according to the Mercury (29 March 1922) to the Hobart City Council  including the recreation ground at West Hobart, the Parliament Reserve, St Davids old burial ground, and Franklin Square. The writer in the Mercury considered these as rather outlandish options. The most suitable, the editorial noted was the proposal to site the future zoological gardens in the Domain.

...The proposal that commends itself most forcefully to those who believe in the future of Hobart, is to concentrate those bigger pleasure resorts on the Domain, which was granted specifically for that very purpose..

In early March advertisements were put out for the position of curator for the new yet to be constructed Zoo at the Queens Domain.

APPLICATIONS for the position of Curator of the Bcaumaris Zoo, giving qualifications
and previous experience, and accompanied by recent testimonials, will be received
until 12 Noon on MONDAY, the 13th March, 1922.
Preference given to returned settlers and soldiers
Full particulars obtainable at my Public Office
A. W. Cecil Johnstone
Acting Town Clerk
Town Hall, Hobart
28th February 1922
                                                                                                                                            Advertisement The Mercury 8 March 1922

The Hobart City Council Reserves Committee held a meeting on the evening of 27 March 1922 to consider the two applicants namely Arthur R. Reid and H. Stuart Dove. The successful applicant was Arthur Reid who was appointed to the position as curator of Beaumaris Zoo. Committee Member Alderman Breen moved that the site of the zoo should be changed from the quarry to Lambert Park. The motion was carried.

The Mercury (28 April 1922) suggested in an editorial that Arthur Reid with his appointment as curator should be sent to Taronga Park Zoological Gardens in Sydney to see the well respected director of the facility Albert. S. Le Souef who had recently been on a trip to London to discuss zoological matters. 

The editorial also suggested that Reid could discuss with Le Souef about the layout design for the future Beaumaris Zoo. Taronga Park Zoo was well known  in Australasia for advancement in enclosure design and lay out. Le Souef's expertise had also been sought by the proponents of the fledging Auckland Zoological Gardens in 1923.

Arthur Reid the new curator had been born in Edinburgh, Scotland and had emigrated to Tasmania at aged 21 years. According to his obituary (Mercury 14 December 1935) Reid had been an avid naturalist since boyhood. When he had come to Tasmania the Mercury stated Reid had taken a special interest in the rearing of pheasants and english birds. Reid died at aged 70 years on 13 December 1935.

By May 1922 the Mercury (30 May 1922) reported that a curator had been appointed, plans drawn up for the layout of the new zoological gardens and tenders for the fencing of the site had closed. It was also reported that the old quarry site had been selected and an area of some 'five and three quarter acres of land' had been set aside.

Reid had left Hobart for the mainland for 18 days to visit zoos in Sydney, Melbourne and Ballarat inspecting collections and 'gaining experience in the methods of management'. Part of his trip, so it was reported, was an intention to arrange for the exchange of animals and birds. He was also on his return going to advise and report on the enclosure designs for the future zoo. Once the fencing around the zoo site was complete construction of the animal and bird enclosures was to commence with an office for the curator.

The Reserves committee had been charged with the task of constructing the new enclosures with as much space as possible for the animals and birds. One example the Mercury gave in the report was for the eagle cage describing it as:

"..The eagle cage for instance; will be 18 feet high and 30 feet long, to give the big birds all possible freedom.."

The enclosures were to be made of wood, iron and iron netting. Gifts of  red and fallow deer had been promised for the new zoo. The Roberts collection at the Beaumaris property in Sandy Bay, however had suffered some losses. The Tasmanian Devils Mrs Roberts had so carefully tended had all died. A Thylacine was reported as recovering from ill health due to Mr Reid's care. A new pair of Tasmanian devils had been offered to replace those lost in the collection. The wallabies, kangaroos, possums and other animals and birds were reported to be in the best of condition. It was estimated the zoo would open in two months time.

During June the Illustrated Tasmanian Mail had written an article on the poor condition of the Robert's collection being housed at the old Beaumaris property. The Reserves Committee reported this to the Hobart City Council and Curator Reid reported that the Tasmanian Devils had been disposed of before the Hobart City Council had taken the collection over. He had also advised that there had been an aged wallaby which had died, and the 'wolf' (referring to the Thylacine) had not had a mate for over two years. No wombats were present in the collection, and a squirrel had not had a mate for 18 months. He had also destroyed what was termed as a 'native cat'. 54 animals were noted as being in the collection on 19 April 1922 by Reid in his report.

The Reserves Committee reported that in the Illustrated Tasmanian Mail  of June 22, reference was made, under the heading of "Nature Notes," to the Beaumaris Zoo.
The article stated a number of the animals looked poorly and a good many of the cages were now empty. The Curator in reporting on the matter stated that all the devils were disposed of before the collection was offered to the Council, the wolf had not had a mate for over two years and the squirrel for eighteen months 
There were no wombats in the zoo when he took over and an old wallaby which died and a native cat which he destroyed were the only animals lost.
There were 48 animals in the zoo on the 19th April, and there were 54 now, all of  which looked well.
Dealing with the second part of the notes- "Solitary Captives" the Curator stated much depended on the individuality of the animal or bird whether it suffered or not from the loss of its mate. Alderman Williams proposed the adoption of this report and said that a couple of badgers had been donated by a gentleman in the country Alderman Rogers, in seconding, said ' that there were over 100 birds in addition
          The report was adopted 

During early August Alderman Williams (Mercury 9 August 1922) had advised the National Parks Board, he was keen to obtain a collection of 'green and rosella parrots' for the new zoo.  He had also reported that the new zoo had already obtained six possums and a pair of badgers. The request was duly granted.

Australian Wedge Tail Eagle

In late August 1922, R. Bruce a representative of the Nestle Milk Company, managed to capture a large Wedge Tail Eagle (Aquila audax fleayi) at Pyengana for the collection. The raptor had been injured by a rabbit trap when it was sent to Reid to be cared for, adding to the growing zoological collection.

Mr R Bruce, representative of Nestle's Milk Co, while at Pyengana, noticed a large Wedge-tailed eagle, which seemed to fly with difficulty, and on closer observation noticed it had a rabbit trap attached to one of its feet. He gave chase, but not until he had gone a mile or two did the eagle's strength give out and it was obliged to land on the ground 
When he approached it it showed fight with beak and claws, but he managed to secure it, and procuring a large case, forwarded it by rail to the Curator of the Hobart Zoo, where it arrived safely, and is now quite at home in the aviary at Beaumaris with the other two of its kind.
It is to be hoped that all other people will follow Mr Bruce's example and forward to the Zoo and animals or birds that come into their possession.

By September further additions were made to the increasing zoological collection gifts of a pair of Tasmanian Devils, as well black possum and grey possums were made by members of the public (Mercury 19 September 1922).

In October the Reserves Committee (The Mercury 18 October 1922) had reported that tenders had been received for the construction of the curator's office and other buildings including a tea kiosk.

Good progress on the construction had been made by the early part of the month. The fencing around the new site was completed, with workmen putting the finishing touches to the ponds where the water fowl would be placed.  Aviaries and enclosures for the yet to be transferred birds were well on their way to completion, although there was delay due to a wait for the wire netting from Sydney.

A pair of lions had been gifted to the new zoo by the Taronga Park Trust. Further additions had been made with gifts of possums, a porcupine anteater, eagles, wallabies and Tasmanian devils. The Mercury (5 October 1922) also reported:

"In a few weeks it is expected that the work of the Beaumaris collection from Battery Point to the Domain will begin"

Loss though, had also occurred with the death of a Thylacine from pneumonia at the old Beaumaris property. The marsupial after death was skinned and the skeleton mounted.

Included in the animals in the Beaumaris Zoo presented by Miss Roberts to the City Council was a fine specimen of the marsupial wolf, or Tasmanian tiger, which was the pride of the collection. 
This tiger had been in splendid health and condition, but unfortunately, contracted a chill during the recent spell of cold weather, and despite every effort of the Curator (Mr Reid), who called in the assistance of a medical practitioner, it died last evening of pneumonia. As those tigers are now almost extinct, it is highly doubtful whether the loss can be made good. 
The Council would be glad if any person securing a specimen would place it under offer to them Arrangement« have boon made to preserve the skin of the tiger, and to set up its skeleton

Progress on the construction of the new zoo continued into November. A report in the Mercury (14 November 1922) detailed the progress of the work on the site. In particular it noted the construction of the new lion enclosure

"....A special feature of the zoo will in the lions and the sandstone is now bing cut away from the hillside to form terraces in front of which will be a moat.  The lions will then be able to be viewed from both above and below without any obstruction. The enclosure will be 40ft wide with den attached..."
The same report detailed the list of numerous birds and animals the enclosures and aviaries were being constructed for these included deer, kangaroo, ostriches, wallabies, emu, rabbits, eagles, finches, doves and water fowl.

On November 29 the Legislative Council approved a clause in the Hobart Corporation Bill to authorise the Hobart City Council to:-

'...establish and maintain zoological gardens to be known as the Beaumaris Zoo in such portion of the Queen's Domain as it may determine, and also to expend on the zoo such annual sum as the Council may think proper. '

By the end of January 1923 the new zoo was ready to be opened. The animals were transferred from the old Beaumaris property to the new zoological facility on 1 February 1923. An aged kangaroo however, died shortly after arriving at the Queens Domain site. The lions due from Taronga Park Zoo had not yet arrived in time for the impending official opening on February 2nd.

 The work of transporting the birds and animals from the late Mrs Roberts private zoological garden at Battery Point to the site in the Domain that has been set aside by the City Council for their future residence was begun early yesterday morning and with the exception of a few varieties of birds was completed late yesterday afternoon.
About a dozen men under the supervision of the curator Mr A. R. Reid were engaged in the arduous task and it speaks well for their carefulness, that during tho transportation not one animal was lost.
However fortune did not altogether favour them. While feeding the animals in the evening Mr Reid discovered the old man kangaroo dead in his paddock. The animal was a particularly fine specimen and one that the curator was justifiably proud of.
He was very docile and during the journey behaved in his usual good manner. When taken from the cage he hopped about the paddock and appeared to be in the best of condition. He was not injured at all and Mr Reid surmises that the constant stream of motor cars that were going past the Zoo frightened the animal and in his fright he must have fallen and broken his neck..

The official opening ceremony took place on a Friday afternoon on February 2, 1923 officiated by Alderman Williams who performed the opening ceremony in the absence of the mayor Alderman McKenzie. 

Ida Roberts, the daughter of Mary Grant Roberts, also attended the opening.had gifted the original collection belonging her mother to the City of Hobart. 
The recently established Beaumaris Zoo was officially opened by Alderman W M. Williams this afternoon. The zoo was originally a private collection of animals and birds belonging to Mrs. I. L. Roberts, upon whose death her daughter. Miss Ida Roberts, generously gave the collection to the City Council. 
The new zoo is situated in the Domain, near Government House, and two lions and about 100 Australian parrots have been added to the collection. Alderman Williams, who performed the opening ceremony, in the absence of the Mayor (Alderman McKenzie), in the course of his. remarks, said. that the work, when completed, would have cost about £3000. 
The zoo now contained 100 animals and 220 birds. Cheers for Miss Roberts concluded the ceremony.

With the opening of the new zoo to the public further animals were yet to arrive, new enclosures were still being constructed. Hobart now had its new zoo, and the Beaumaris collection now had a new home.