The first record of wild animals at the Tower of London was in 1210, in the reign of King John.
For over 600 years, animals were kept at the Tower for the entertainment and curiosity of the court. Everything from elephants to tigers, kangaroos and ostriches lived in what was known as the Royal Menagerie.
Under James I, the bloody sport of baiting became very popular and a platform was built over the dens so that the King and his courtiers could watch lions, bears and dogs being made to fight each other to the death.
In later years, the variety of animals at the Tower increased and the Menagerie became a popular attraction. At the Royal Menagerie, visitors could see strange and rare beasts that they would never have seen before.
The Menagerie finally closed after several incidents where the animals had escaped and attacked each other, visitors and Tower staff. The Duke of Wellington, who was Constable of the Tower, ordered the animals to leave and in 1832 they arrived at their new home in London Zoo.