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In The Tower of London, October 2012.

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There were many famous prisoners here, some executed by beheading, many more  keeping their heads but without any hope of release. Like all the ”members” of the Royal Menagerie: many kinds of rare and exotic animals were kept in the Tower for the entertainment and curiosity purposes for over 600 hundred years.

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A polar bear was a present to king Henry III from King Haakon IV of Norway in 1252. ”Let the Keeper of the King’s White Bear […] have a muzzle and an iron chain…”

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Animal sculptures (made of wire mesh) by artist Kendra Haste.

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Some 18th century pictorial opinions:

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Porcupine = it’s a spiky beast behind the bars.

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Racoon = some sort of foxlike, slightly obscure animal – so perhaps better kept in a dungeon with a shackle around its neck?

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Eagle = a large bird, preferably in a cage… The same goes for vultures, lions, tigers, lepoards, panthers and so on.
The ”warwoven”, some strange bird from the East indies, must have been a truly tame and harmless thing (just like those lion cubs by the fireplace) since it did deserve the honour to be depicted entirely without the bars! Anyway, it must be clear that most things are just better locked up in a cage, even when only drawn or painted.

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Royal Menagerie history at www.hrp.org.uk

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