1825 Prospectus for ZSL

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This four-page Prospectus was written in March 1825 to encourage people to join the proposed Zoological Society.

It states that the Society would have “a collection of living animals such as never yet existed in ancient or modern times”, a Museum, and a Library.

The Prospectus calls the lack of such a Society and menagerie as: “this opprobrium to our age and nation”.

Title page of a prospectus from 1825 to encourage people to join the proposed Zoological Society of London
Title page of a prospectus from 1825 to encourage people to join the proposed Zoological Society of London


The press reaction to the Prospectus appears to have been mixed. The Literary Gazette wrote about the proposed Society: “We hear a great diversity of opinions upon it. Those friendly to it re-echo the language of the Prospectus – declare it to be worthy of an enlightened country – and anticipate wonderful improvements from its being carried into effect; while those of an opposite way of thinking laugh at it as a wild speculation… attempting to make an Ark in London…”

Sir Stamford Raffles and Sir Humphry Davy managed to attract enough well-wishers and ZSL was officially founded a year later in 1826. It opened ZSL London Zoo in 1828. The sceptics were proved wrong and ZSL is now celebrating its 180th anniversary this year.

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