The Tower of London has been used as a palace, prison and military base during its long history and thousands of people have lived and worked here over the centuries.
King John (1199–1216) was the first monarch to keep lions at the Tower of London. Our first record of the animals at the Tower is a payment made to the lion keepers from 1210–11. The king’s wild beasts had previously been kept at Woodstock. Find out more >
Henry III expanded the Tower of London and built many of the parts that still survive today. He also had some of the most impressive animals in the early days of the Royal Menagerie, including a polar bear from Norway and an African elephant, a gift from the King of France. Find out more >
The Duke of Wellington
The Duke of Wellington is well-known as the hero of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 but most people don’t realise that afterwards he was also Constable of the Tower of London. After a series of animal attacks and escapes, it was Wellington who ordered that the royal beasts should leave the Tower. Find out more >
Alfred Cops was the last keeper of the Menagerie at the Tower. After the royal animals left for London Zoo in 1832 he continued to show his own collection of animals at the Tower for another three years before he was made to stop. Cops had a lucky escape when a large snake he was feeding coiled around him. He was only rescued when the other keepers broke the snake’s teeth.