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The Story Behind the Tower Menagerie

Discover the curious secrets of the Tower Menagerie!

You won’t encounter real lions roaming the grounds of the Tower of London today, but you can experience the fascinating sculptures that have taken their place.

The Tower of London may be home to the crown jewels, but it also provides shelter to a magnificent and curious menagerie. The large, wire mesh animal sculptures that line the Tower’s grounds are replicas of the exotic wildlife that once roamed the historical landmark. If you’re planning a visit to Britain’s most interesting attraction, be on the lookout for baboons, lions, and an elephant!

A Brief History

As it was a common practice for Medieval Kings throughout Europe to gift each other exotic animals, the Tower of London soon became the site of the most popular animal collection. The Tower Menagerie began in 1204 with a few lions and a couple bears. As new Kings took the thrown and more gifts were given, the menagerie grew into an impressive zoological garden filled with rare animals from around the world.

Open to the Public

During the 16th century, the Tower Menagerie was open to the public and visitors would come from far and wide to see the fantastic display of exotic animals. A few of the animals earned reputations, such as the leopard known to steal women’s umbrellas. As attitudes towards animal abuse became more progressive, the popularity of the menagerie diminished. By 1831, most of the animals were transferred to the London Zoo and some were sold to P.T. Barnum, the famous circus master. In 1835, the London Menagerie was officially closed on the orders of the Duke of Wellington.

The Tower Sculptures

Kendra Haste, sculptor and member of the Society of Wildlife Artists, is the artist behind the Tower of London’s current menagerie. Using galvanized wire, she creates animal sculptures that depict the true nature of the subject. Haste believes that galvanized wire is the only material that allows her to add life to her work, giving her the opportunity to add contour and volume to each sculpture.


AESU offers unique, thrilling travel programs for college students and young professionals at affordable rates. Each trip is action-packed and informal—designed just for people your own age. We are also able to design custom tours just for your group.

AESU offers several trips to London and the UK, including Cosmopolitan, Euro Spree, Explorer, Euro Focus, and our most popular tour, Great Escape. Explore England and its rich history and culture. Stroll through London, the muggle capital of the world – be sure to watch out for the Knight Bus!

If you have any questions or want help booking your next London adventure, please contact AESU by calling 800-638-7640, or fill out the contact form found on our website!

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