London Zoo has released a series of old maps including the park’s original designs in 1826.

The collection of maps, which was made available digitally to the public for the first time this week, shows how the popular attraction within the Regent’s Park has evolved during its nearly 200 years welcoming visitors.

The earliest diagram shows the original Zoological Society of London (ZSL) ‘Design for the Garden’ two years before the zoo opened to society fellows in 1828 with the its main feature being its wild aviary.

It would only open to the public 19 years later in 1847 in order to raise more funding.

Diagram shows the original designs of ‘the park’ from 1826.

The maps also capture the zoo’s many trailblazing moments, including a diagram from 1882 showing the world’s first reptile house which opened in 1849, and the aquarium – the world’s first public exhibit of its kind which helped to popularise the term.

It also brought the word ‘jumbo’ meaning large into common use, after the eponymous elephant who lived there in 1865.

THEN AND NOW: Some of the structures in the 1882 map above still stand today as shown in the zoo’s most recent brochure in 2022, pictured below.

Another more recent map from 1931 displays the Mappin Terraces which were home to Winnipeg, the real brown bear, and the inspiration for A A Milne’s character Winnie the Pooh. The building now houses the wallabies.

These plans not only highlight the changing face of the zoo but also developments surrounding it. While the 1865 maps show largely unbuilt land north of the Regent’s Canal, later diagrams show newer buildings, some of which are no longer part of the zoo and even local transport.

The 1931 map lists 86 attractions, referred to as ‘houses and enclosures’.

Aside from contributing to English etymology and literature, London Zoo has also seen many high profile visitors, including Charles Darwin, Queen Victoria and David Attenborough, the latter for his first documentary in 1953.

Newer maps shine a light on different societal attitudes, with a 1965 edition labelling some women’s toilets as only open during the summer.

An accompanying note also warns patrons that due to building work some routes may be closed.

A map from 1965 advises visitors of ‘rebuilding’ and even some ladies toilets only open in the summer.

London Zoo is one of the largest animal attractions in the UK, welcoming over 1 million visitors to see its collection of 20,000 individuals of 698 different species.

All images credited to London Zoo.

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