Introduction to Royal Beasts

Introduction to Royal Beasts

Bengal Lion

Discover the stories of the Royal Menagerie where, for over 600 years, wild and exotic animals were held captive.

Majesty, tragedy and spectacle

ElephantFounded during the reign of King John in the early 1200s, animals lived at the Tower for over 600 years. Exotic animals were given as royal gifts and animals were kept at the Royal Menagerie for the entertainment and curiosity of the court. 

The first royal beasts to arrive at the Tower - the lions, polar bear and elephant - came from Europe and North Africa. In later years, the variety of animals at the Tower increased. Everything from elephants to tigers, kangaroos and ostriches lived in what was known as the Royal Menagerie.

In the exhibition, located in the Brick Tower, explore the stories of many of the animals kept at the Tower through interactive displays, experience how animals would have lived, what they smelt like and learn what happened when they escaped.

Entrance to the Royal Beasts exhibition is included in your Tower of London admission ticket and is free for members. 

Find out more about Royal Beasts and discover more about the Royal Menagerie > 

View our Royal Beasts slideshow > 


Other institutions of the Tower

The Royal Menagerie was one of the many institutions founded at the Tower of London. Others include The Royal Mint and The Royal Observatory. 

While some organisations moved out and other functions ceased, many operated for hundreds of years.

Find out more about other institutions founded at the Tower of London >


Shop online

Royal Beasts Book CoverRoyal Beasts
£7.99

Cut out and make the oldest zoo in London

Creative children (and adults) will love this new craft book, published to coincide with the Royal Beasts exhibition at the Tower of London. Discover the story of Marco the lion, Edward the baboon and their friends, then create your own zoo with ten easy-to-assemble Royal Beasts, plus one of the Tower’s famous ravens.

Find out more by visiting our online shop >

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