This blog features our first 'penguins' arriving in the nineteenth century and a few from the twentieth century.
The first live penguin at ZSL London Zoo, or indeed the first at a UK zoo, was a King Penguin from the Falkland Islands. The penguin arrived in 1865. According to the Annual Report for that year it was "skilfully conveyed to this country by Commander Fenwick, of H.M.S. 'Harrier'...this strange looking bird attracted universal attention". In the V&A's collections there is a wonderful cartoon by Ernest Griset of the penguin surrounded by artists trying to depict this unusual creature. The cartoon is reproduced in Lionel Lambourne's book Ernest Griset : fantasies of a Victorian illustrator. In our Archives the 'Daily Occurrences' for 1865, states that this first King Penguin arrived on 27 March 1865. The penguin lived a very short time, dying on 19 May 1865 .
The next King Penguin was presented by Mr F.P. Cobb, Manager of the Falkland Islands Company, Port Stanley. It was brought by Mr W.H. Hyde, R.N. on H.M.S. 'Reindeer', arriving on 8 January 1872. It was a young penguin with immature brown plumage, sadly it died a few weeks later . The first King Penguins to hatch at ZSL London Zoo was in August 1952, when three hatched .
Other species of penguin arriving at ZSL London Zoo in the nineteenth century were Rockhopper penguin in 1873 and then Gentoo penguin in 1874. These were followed by Jackass in 1882, Blue in 1887 and Yellow-crested in 1891.
The 1950 Annual Report lists two Emperor penguins as new species in the animal collection at ZSL London Zoo, they were presented by the Falkland Islands Dependency Survey, Graham Land, at the same time they presented five Gentoos, seven Ringed and two Maccaroni penguins. Although we often receive enquiries about earlier Emperor penguins, these seem to be King penguins which have been misidentified by visitors.
One of the oldest books in ZSL Library is Belon's L'histoire nature des oyseaux, 1555. It does not include an image of a penguin but our copy has a later image of penguin from 1769 stuck into the book! This depicts a King penguin engraved for Thomas Pennant's description in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.
Ernest Griset : fantasies of a Victorian illustrator / Lionel Lambourne, London : Thames & Hudson, 1979
L'histoire nature des oyseaux... / Pierre Belon, Paris : Cavellat, 1555.
Penguin / Stephen Martin, London : Reaktion Books, 2009.
Report of the Council of the Zoological Society of London, 1866, p. 20 ZSL Archives
Report of the Council of the Zoological Society of London, 1950, p. 11 & 13 ZSL Archives
 Proceedings of the Zoological Society, 1865, Vol. 33, issue 1, p. 318 and 'Daily Occurrences' 1865 in ZSL Archives.
 Proceedings of the Zoological Society 1872, Vol. 40, issue 1, pp. 183-4 and 880.
 Report of the Council of the Zoological Society of London, 1952, p. 17 ZSL Archives
ZSL Prince Philip Zoological Library & Archives is a wonderful and unique information resource about animals and their conservation – we aim to inspire, inform, and empower people to stop wild animals going extinct. Information is vitally important in conservation.
ZSL Prince Philip Zoological Library & Archives is currently open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays by appointment only, please email in advance email@example.com
You can explore and discover our collections in a variety of ways –
- Follow us on Twitter @ZSLLibrary
- See also our Welcome to ZSL Library & Archives on YouTube
- Search our Library catalogue for books, journals, relevant online resources and art works.
- Search our Archives catalogue for archives and 'zoophemera'.
Select a blog
Our people are our greatest asset and we realise our vision for a world where wildlife thrives through their ideas, skills and passion. An inspired, informed and empowered community of people work, study and volunteer together at ZSL.
At ZSL, a key area of our work is the employment of Nature-based Solutions – an approach which both adapt to and mitigates the impacts of climate change. These Solutions, which include habitat protection and restoration, are low-cost yet high-impact, and provide multiple benefits to people and wildlife. We ensure that biodiversity recovery is at the heart of nature-based solutions.
A blog for lovers of ZSL London Zoo, bringing you extraordinary animal facts and exclusive access to the world's oldest scientific zoo.
Do you love wildlife? Discover more about our amazing animals at the UK's biggest zoo!
We're working around the world to conserve animals and their habitats, find out more about our latest achievements.
From the field to the lab, catch up with the scientists on the cutting edge of conservation biology at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology.
A day in Discovery and Learning at ZSL is never dull! The team tell us all about the exciting sessions for school children, as well as work further afield.
Every month, one of the pieces held in ZSL’s Library and at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will feature here as Artefact of the Month.
Read testimonials from our Members and extracts from ZSL's award winning members' magazine, Wild About.
ZSL works across Asia, from the famous national parks of Nepal to marine protected areas in the Philippines. Read the latest updates on our conservation.
An Open Access journal for research at the interface of remote sensing, ecology and conservation.