This Establishment was opened on 27th May 1833 by Thomas Atkins on a 12 Acre site …. Mr Atkins had previously had a travelling menagerie when he had the foresight to set up this Zoological Gardens …An early tragedy in 1836 saw the Monkey House catch on fire (fortunately only 2 Monkeys perished ) … Also in 1836 there was talk of Mr Atkins having to sell up as he was by this time 69 years old and was in poor health (however this did not happen) ….
By 1837 the Zoological Gardens had Various Birds , Spectacle Bears , Sloth Bear , American Black Bear , European Brown Bear , Llamas , Buffalo , Coatis , Hyena , African Lion , Jackals . Ligers (Lion / Tiger crosses) , Cheetah (said to be the only 1 in England in 1837) , Lynx , Mountain Cat , Opossum, Ocelot , Pumas , Leopard , Jaguars , Tigers Reptiles , Monkeys , Squirrels , Tortoises , Porcupine , Otters , 2 Indian Elephants ( Rajah and Poodah) Indian Rhinoceros , Camel, Alpaca, Raccoons , Agouti and Zebra … Polar Bears were added in later years … For an 1830’s Zoological Gardens there were so many exhibits and these were only a part of them as detailed in the 1837 Guide …
In 1838 a Brown Bear escaped from the Zoo and attacked a man whilzt he was trying to protect a young child from being attacked Whilst he was badly bitten he survived the attack as Keepers from the Zoo beat off the Bear …
In 1840 Mr Atkins purchased land in Glasgow to set up a short lived Zoo in Cranston Hill ….
Another disaster struck the Zoological Gardens in December 1843 when Rajah the Elephant killed a Henry Andrews it was not witnessed as to what exactly happened but 15 minutes after Mr Andrews was last seen he was discovered lifeless in the Elephant enclosure … the Tragedy was put down as an accident and the Elephant was spared being put down ……
Mr Thomas Atkins passed away in June 1848 after being seriously ill for the past 3 months he was aged 81 … His wife took over the running of the Zoological with the help of her sons John and Edwin ….
Further heartache in June 1848 when Rajah the Elephant killed his Keeper Richard Howard .. Mr Howard was seen striking Rajah with a broomstick and the Elephant retaliated by crushing Mr Howard against the bars …. This time Rajah was not spared. Frstly he was fed poison to euthanise him and when that did not work he faced a “Firing Squad ” of 12 men with rifles and Rajah was killed …
In June 1850 after a firework display one of the Aviaries burnt to the ground causing £200 worth of damage ( a fortune in those days) ..
In 1851 the Partnership of Mrs Atkins and her 2 sons was dissolved and in January 1852 a Mr Duranda (who was a Bullion Dealer and Exchange Broker ) had purchased the Zoological Gardens ….. but seemingly he must have leased the gardens back to the Atkins family … But things were not totally “rosey” in this arrangement as Duranda took Mrs Atkins to court in 1854 over 4 missing Exotic birds when he purchased the gardens in 1852 the 4 birds were present but by 1854 they had “disappeared” his claim was for £10 compensation and he won his case
1854 also brought more tragedy Edwin Atkins had left for an Exploration expedition in 1852 to bring back some Exotic animals from Egypt .. in January 1854 he died close to the River Nile ….
There was very little more incident to report until 6th April 1860 the Zoological Gardens changed hands again (this time no Atkins family involvement) a Company of Gentleman took over and the business name was Zoological Gardens Company (Limited )….
More disaster in 1861 when a Mr John Hughes aged 47 died as result of a Lion bite ….
In September 1864 the Zoological Gardens finally closed their doors for the last time (when it closed the local newspaper quoted that the Zoological Gardens were now so dilapidated and a disgrace to Liverpool) …. The Site was sold to a Land Company in December 1865 and the Fixtures etc were sold at Auction in 1866 … I believe Belle Vue Zoo Manchester purchased many of the animals
Image shows the Map of the Liverpool Zoological Gardens
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