ZSL Daily Occurrences

One of the most interesting parts of archive collection at the ZSL Library is our series of Daily Occurrences from ZSL London and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. These are large ledger books where the day’s comings and goings at the Zoos were written down. They note animal births, deaths and illness; animals that we had bought or sold, as well as the numbers of visitors and the amount of money taken. Other details included particular visitors such as well-known names, absent keepers, building works, temperatures in the animal houses, and the weather! With such a breadth of information, they are a fascinating resource not only for those in the zoological field, but also historians interested in any of the above.

Below is the first page from the very first volume of 1828. It notes that we received 11 wild ducks and six silver haired rabbits, an emu laid a fourth egg, and one otter sadly died “in consequence of a diseased tail”. Other details noted in the first entry include building a pit for the bears, and information regarding the four visitors who came to the Zoo, including Lord Auckland, a politician of the Whig party at the time.


ZSL London Zoo Daily Occurrences 1828 page 1
The first entry in the 1828 volume, Monday February 25th 1828.

The volumes afford us a fascinating insight not only into the daily life of the Zoos but also snap shots into such turbulent times as WW2. The two entries below are from Friday 16 June 1944, and Saturday 24 June 1944. In the first entry you can see it notes “first ‘pilotless plane’ raid ‘flying bombs’”  - which was the V1 flying bombs falling on London. 


ZSL London Daily Occurrences, Friday June 6th 1944
Entry from ZSL London Daily Occurrences, Friday June 6th 1944

In the second entry, it is noted that “flying bomb dropped in gardens. Hit tree on canal bank (middle gardens) and exploded in the air. No casualties apart from 2 birds killed – see “Departures” – but very considerable material damage (approx. 6.15am)”. Those two birds were a Bel’s Pheasant and a Hybrid Ceylon Jungle Fowl. 


ZSL London Daily Occurrences, Saturday June 24th 1944
ZSL London Daily Occurrences, Saturday June 24th 1944

Thanks to a donation by Dr Beryl Leigh, we have had the volumes of the daily occurrences for the years 1828 and 1943-6 from ZSL London Zoo, and the first volume from ZSL Whipsnade (1931) digitised. You can view the PDFs on our library catalogue here.

If you wish to view any other editions of the Daily Occurrences, or to consult any of our other archive collections for research, please email library@zsl.org to make an appointment.

Find out more about ZSL Library and archive collection and explore and discover our collections online using our online catalogue.

Select a blog

Artefact of the month

Every month one of the pieces held in ZSL’s Library and at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will feature here as Artefact of the month.

Asia Conservation Programme

Get the latest on ZSL's conservation work in Asia.

B.U.G.S Blog

Find out more about life in our B.U.G.S exhibit

Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation

A new Open Access journal for research at the interface of remote sensing, ecology and conservation.

ZSL Shop

See the latest ranges, updates and special offers from our exciting new online shop.

Wild About Magazine

Excerpts from ZSL's award winning members' magazine.

ZSL London Zoo

A blog for lovers of ZSL London Zoo. Bringing you amazing animal facts and exclusive access to the world's scientific oldest zoo.

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Discover more about the UK's biggest zoo with our fun blog posts!

Discovery and Learning in the Field

Join the ZSL Discovery and Learning team as they venture out of the zoo and in to the wild.


Catch up on our latest Conservation Blogs


ZSL Whipsnade Zoo's elephant keepers give an insight into the daily goings on in the elephant barn.

Tiger conservation

Read about conservation of tigers in Asia.

Videographer Blog

One man is boldly going where no other ZSL videographer has gone before - the land of Mountain Chicken Frogs.

Wild Science

From the field, to the lab, catch up with the scientists on the cutting edge of conservation biology at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology.

Wildlife Wood Project Cameroon

The Wildlife Wood Project has been working in Cameroon since 2007 to encourage better wildlife management in logging concessions.

Penguin expedition blog

Updates from penguin conservation expeditions to Antarctica

Amur Leopard

Amur leopard conservation blog

Baby Giraffe Diaries

Meet ZSL Whipsnade Zoo's latest (and leggiest) arrival, a baby giraffe!

Biodiversity and Palm Oil

Follow the ZSL Biodiversity and Palm Oil team, based in Bogor, Indonesia.

Chagos Expedition

The Chagos marine reserve, designated in 2010 and currently the world’s largest no take marine reserve, is a sought-after spot for marine research.


Science blogs

Tsaobis Baboon Blog

Follow ZSL conservationists studying desert baboons in Namibia.