Introduction to Royal Beasts
Majesty, tragedy and spectacle
Founded 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.
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.
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.