Kendra Haste was awarded a commission by Historic Royal Palaces to fabricate thirteen sculptures as part of an exhibition exploring the history of the Royal Menagerie at the Tower of London. Made in galvanised wire, life-size lions, leopards, baboons, a polar bear and an elephant relate to the history of exotic animals that were once a popular tourist attraction at the Tower.
The Royal Menagerie was first mentioned during the reign of Henry III. A polar bear (a gift from the King of Norway in 1251) swam in the Thames wearing a collar and chain that allowed it to fish for food in the Thames without escaping. In 1254, an elephant house was constructed at the Tower and lions were kept in the barbican known as Lion Tower. In the 18th century, the menagerie was open to the public. The price of admission was three half-pence or a dog or cat to feed the lions. By 1835 the animals had been relocated to the world’s first zoo, founded by the Zoological Society of London in 1828 in Regents Park.