‘A Day In The Life’: A Jungle of Photographs from London’s Most Famous Zoo, 1900-1960

Vintage Pictures From London Zoo, 1900-1960

Before I start this post, I just want to say that I do not believe having animals in cages, or in zoos for that matter, is ethical unless there are clear conservation reasons. Nor do I visit zoos today, however, I think what struck me about these photographs was the affection and love that the zoo-keepers and frequent guests bestowed upon these foreign creatures, particularly during times of great danger, such as during the Blitz of WWII, or during times of festivity, such as when the prime minister and Queen came to visit. Here is a vintage compendium of photographs that shows the behind the scenes preparation of a ‘day in the life’ of London Zoo’s furry residents, 1900-1960. Hope you enjoy!

London Zoo, 1926

First of all, it’s time for a morning shower…

Chi Chi the panda

It comes more naturally to some than others…

March 1950 – Mr. Jones the keeper gives his penguins a shower.

Some require a special treatment,

And others require a diet plan!

Prince the baby Emperor Penguin is weighed at London Zoo, 1952
‘I ate too much… didn’t I?’

During WWII, even the pelicans were on half rations due to a fish shortage…

It’s not something you immediately think about during war, but animals needed rations too!

A zoo keeper feeds a hippo, c. 1945

And air raid shelters,

Jack the chimp with his sign outside an air raid shelter in Regent’s Park, London Zoo. 13th September 1939.

There were also reinforced metal boxes for certain residents – built to survive impact if the air raid shelter wasn’t appropriate!

A python is placed for safe-keeping in a reinforced air raid box.

Incidentally, here is a picture of a woman trying her best to take care of one of Berlin Zoo’s residents as Soviet troops approached the city in 1945…

The days were punctuated by visits from local elite, who seemed to always have the best tit-bits…

⇑ Winston Churchill visiting his white kangaroo, Digger, at London Zoo. Digger was the only albino kangaroo in Europe and was presented to Winston Churchill as a gift from the Australian Stockbreeders Association, 3rd January 1948.

War-time prime minister Winston Churchill and his wife, on a visit to London Zoo, July 1943.

Even the Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret came to visit the penguins…

And when war-time was over, the festivities began…

London Zoo’s Minnie and Jane pull a cracker at the annual Christmas Party, 1955

And peace reigned.

77 year-old Mr Elwell, a daily visitor to London Zoo since World War I, feeds Prickly the porcupine in his cage. England, 1944.

In Love&Light, FS XOX

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