All creatures great and small – at the Tower

Mr and Mrs Panther in 1966

Mr and Mrs Panther in 1966

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A few weeks ago, Memory Lane looked at 10 Blackpool sights which had been lost forever.

One of them was the Blackpool Tower Zoo.

Tiger at Blackpool Tower Zoo Rajah, one of two handsome Bengali tigers at the Tower Zoo

Tiger at Blackpool Tower Zoo Rajah, one of two handsome Bengali tigers at the Tower Zoo

It might be hard for younger Memory Lane readers to believe that the Tower was once home to caged lions, bears and even crocodiles – but there is some photographic proof.

The menagerie actually pre-dates the Tower itself.

While the Tower was being built in 1893, the old aquarium, aviary and zoo was kept open to the public to earn revenue. The original Tower menagerie or zoo became the legendary setting for Stanley Holloway’s famous monologue The Lion and Albert.

The menagerie and monkey house were on the first floor. There was a reptile enclosure – including crocodiles, birds – of course, lions, leopards, cheetahs, bears, pumas, porcupines and monkeys.

Blackpool Tower Zoo Diana the porcupine became a mum to beautiful boy Kim 2.11.36

Blackpool Tower Zoo Diana the porcupine became a mum to beautiful boy Kim 2.11.36

Gazette photographers were able to get up close and personal with some of the beasts to capture them in these pictures.

Some of the more ferocious creatures did not look to happy about having their photograph taken!

Mr and Mrs Panther look particularly riled by the presence of the Gazette and Herald photographer, in May 1966.

The Gazette reported the couple were “not too pleased” when he paid a courtesy call on them, soon after they arrived at Blackpool Tower Zoo:

baby seal at Blackpool Tower Zoo, 24.11.70

baby seal at Blackpool Tower Zoo, 24.11.70

“Mrs Panther was particularly upset. She refused to even have her picture taken until she had put her house in order and settled in. A few days later however she relented.

“The pair made friends with each other at least, if not the world at large.”

Rajah, one of two handsome Bengali tigers at the Tower Zoo, looks straight into the camera, with a slightly angry look too.

But the porcupines, hyenas and chinchillas look a little more friendly!

Blackpool Tower Zoo

Blackpool Tower Zoo