Journal Article

Elephants, education and entertainment

Helen Cowie

in Journal of the History of Collections

Volume 25, issue 1, pages 103-117
Published in print March 2013 | ISSN: 0954-6650
Published online February 2012 | e-ISSN: 1477-8564 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jhc/fhr037
Elephants, education and entertainment

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Ever expanding in scope, and resoundingly popular in appeal, touring menageries functioned simultaneously as a source of rudimentary zoological knowledge and a popular form of entertainment. Though zoological gardens emerged in several provincial cities in Britain during the 1830s, itinerant menageries continued to attract a broad range of visitors throughout the century and catered to sectors of the population who, owing to social class or geography, lacked easy access to static zoological exhibitions. The article assesses who patronized menageries and, through an analysis of advertisements for travelling animal shows and reports published in contemporary newspapers, explores their educational value. Building on recent studies of the relationship between science, showmanship and consumer culture, it argues that menageries, because of their durability and social inclusivity, were important sites for the transmission of natural knowledge.

Journal Article.  9754 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Exhibition Catalogues and Specific Collections ; History of Art ; Social and Cultural History

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