Landmarks in ZSL History

Since Sir Stamford Raffles founded ZSL in 1826, there have been many achievements at ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, as well as in our conservation work in the wild.

1826

The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is founded by Stamford Raffles.

 

1828

London Zoo opens to Fellows of the Society, and to the public with a written 'order' from a Fellow and payment of 1 shilling.

 

1829

The Zoological Society of London is granted a Royal Charter by King George IV.

 

1830

Scientific Meetings started. First issue of the Proceedings of the Zoological Society published.

 

1831

Royal animal collection from the Tower of London presented to ZSL.

 

1835

Chimpanzee exhibited at London Zoo for the first time.

 

1837

Charles Darwin becomes a Fellow of ZSL.

 

1847

Public admitted to London Zoo without an 'order' from a Fellow.

 

1849

World's first Reptile House opened at London Zoo.

 

1850

Arrival of the hippopotamus Obaysch - the first living hippo to be seen in Europe.

 

1853

First ever public Aquarium opened at London Zoo.

 

1865

Jumbo, the first African elephant seen alive in England, received from Paris.

 

1881

World's first Insect House opened at London Zoo.

 

1914

Winnie the bear deposited at London Zoo. She was the inspiration for 'Winnie-the-pooh'.

 

1926

As the twentieth century dawned the need to keep and study large animals in more natural surroundings became apparent. Sir Peter Chalmers Mitchell (ZSL Secretary 1903-35) envisaged a new park no more than 70 miles from London, over 200 acres in size and easily accessible to the visiting public. In 1926 an ideal site was found, derelict Hall Farm, near Whipsnade village, nearly 600 acres on the Chiltern Downs. ZSL purchased the farm in December 1926 for £13,480 12s 10d.

 

1928

The first animals arrived at Whipsnade Wild Animal Park - two Amherst pheasants, a golden pheasant and five red jungle fowl. Others soon followed including muntjac, llama, wombats and skunks.

 

1931

Whipsnade Wild Animal Park opens - the world's first open zoological park.

 

1938

Children's Zoo opened at London Zoo.

 

1939

Start of Second World War. The Giant pandas, elephants and rhinos were sent to Whipsnade. London Zoo closed briefly from 3-9 September, but remained open throughout the rest of the War.

 

1947

Guy the gorilla arrives at London Zoo.

 

1960 and 1961

The Institute of Zoology is established. Lord Zuckerman, then Secretary of ZSL, raised funds from two medical foundations to found laboratories where scientists would be employed by ZSL and undertake research.

 

1962

'Caroline' an Arabian oryx is lent to the world herd in Phoenix, Arizona, the first international co-operative breeding programme.

 

1967

Whipsnade breed the first cheetahs born in Europe.

 

1986

ZSL co-ordinates the release of Pere David's deer in Da Feng, China. The release includes deer bred at Whipsnade.

 

1995

The release of 100 sand gazelles into the Empty Quarter, Saudi Arabia - the world's largest release of captive-bred mammals.

 

1997

His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh opens Whipsnade's new Elephant House.

 

1998

The release of 4,000 rare British field crickets into southern England.

 

1999

Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, officially opened the Millennium Conservation Centre, which houses BUGS, the biodiversity exhibition.

 

Today

ZSL London Zoo houses a wonderful range of reptiles, fish, invertebrates, birds and mammals. Of the more than 650 species at ZSL London Zoo, 112 are listed as threatened in the Red Data Books . ZSL London Zoo participates in breeding programmes for 130 species.