The creation of a zoo in Dickensian London – when only one other existed across the world – is a story of jaw-dropping audacity. It is the story of trailblazing scientists, rival zookeepers and aristocratic naturalists collecting amazing animals from all four corners of the globe. It is the story of a weird and wonderful oasis in the heart of a swirling city, and of incredible characters, both human and animal – from Stamford Raffles and Charles Darwin to Jenny the orang-utan and Obaysch the celebrity hippo, the first that anyone in Britain had ever seen. Against a background of global Empire, domestic reform and industrialisation, this is a new history of a new world.
Isobel Charman is an award-winning television producer. She has spent the last decade working in factual documentary production as a writer, researcher, producer and director and has worked on award-winning films for UK, European and US broadcasters. For The Zoo she has made unprecedented use of the vast archives at the Zoological Society of London. She lives in London.