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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

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...



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Included in palace admission (members go free)

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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.

Learn more about the Tower of London Menagerie

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 perched on top of a wall.
Sculpture of a polar bear made from steel armature and painted galvanised wire, installed in front of the Wakefield Tower.  Part of the Royal Beasts exhibition. 

Sculptor Kendra Haste was commissioned in 2010 by Historic Royal Palaces to create a series of thirteen works celebrating the Royal Menagerie at the Tower of London. The menagerie included a polar bear, a gift from the King of Norway in 1252. The bear sometimes swam in the River Thames, at the end of a long leash, to catch fish.

The menagerie was established in the early 13th Century and remained a part of the Tower of London until 1832 when the remaining animals were moved to Regents Park to help establish London Zoo.

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.

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

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Medieval Palace

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

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Yeoman Warder tours

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

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Browse more History and stories

The Tower of London Menagerie

For over 600 years, the Tower housed a menagerie of exotic wild animals

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Luxurious royal lodgings from the 1200s

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