Royal beasts

For 600 years, wild and exotic creatures were held captive here by kings and queens

For 600 years, wild and exotic creatures were held captive here by kings and queens

When

  • Open daily

Ticketing information

Included in palace admission Buy Tower of London tickets

Surprising animals kept at the Tower of London

Explore the tales of the many exotic animals kept at the Tower, from lions, tigers, monkeys and elephants, to zebras, alligators, bears and kangaroos, in the Royal Beasts exhibition at the Tower of London.

Learn about the polar bear who fished in the Thames for his lunch, the ostrich who ate nails and many other surprising stories.

Experience the sights, sounds, and even smells of the animals through interactive displays and find out what happened when the royal beasts escaped...

Status symbols and extravagant gifts

Founded by King John in the early 1200s, the Royal Menagerie became home to more than 60 species of animal. This began a long tradition of kings and queens keeping exotic animals as symbols of power and for the entertainment and curiosity of the court.

Animals were also exchanged throughout Europe as regal gifts, but sadly, they were often mistreated.

Life-size animal sculptures

As you explore around the Tower of London, you will see many life-size sculptures of menagerie animals by artist, Kendra Haste.

What animals can you find? 

Sculpture of a baboon made from galvanised wire
Sculpture of a polar bear made from galvanised wire. Kendra Haste was commissioned by Historic Royal Palaces to create a series of sculptures as part of an exhibition 'Royal Beasts' celebrating the history of the Royal Menagerie at the Tower of London.

Other institutions at the Tower

The Royal Menagerie is 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.

Iron spikes descending from a stone arch, a portcullis, on the Bloody Tower
Things to see

Explore the Tower of London’s early years as a formidable fortress and discover why it has been both feared and revered.

Open daily

Tower of London

Two medieval knights, in civilian clothes, talk in the Medieval Palace
Things to see

Step inside the luxurious lodgings of two kings, meticulously re-created in the Medieval Palace at the Tower of London.

Open daily

Tower of London

A Yeoman Warder adjusts his medals on his bright red traditional uniform
Tours and talks Highlights

Discover captivating stories of pain and passion, treachery and torture on the Yeoman Warder tours at the Tower of London.

Tours daily, every 30 minutes

Tower of London

1 hour. Last tour of the day starts 15:30 (summer)

Cut out and make the oldest zoo in London. From lions to polar bears, meet the royal beasts of the Tower of London.

Royal Beasts cut out book

Cut out and make the oldest zoo in London. From lions to polar bears, meet the royal beasts of the Tower of London.

£4.99

Delightful children's guide book packed full of fascinating stories and amusing illustrations.

Tower Power: Children's guide to the Tower of London

Delightful children's guide book packed full of fascinating stories and amusing illustrations.

£4.99

Beefeater teddy bear - teddy bear dressed in the red uniform of the Tower of London Yeoman.

Beefeater teddy bear

This 'Beefeater' bear is splendidly dressed in a Yeoman Warder uniform, standing ready to guard the Tower of London.

14.99