Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

For sale, one careful owner

For sale, one careful owner

We at Dodgy Perth love a good stock clearance. Much of our wardrobe comes from discount racks at Myer. So it is a shame we couldn’t be there for Perth Zoo’s clearance sale.

Starting in 1902, the Zoological Gardens auctioned excess animals each year at a sales room in the CBD. Besides the purely ornamental animals and birds, there were several young tigers, a leopard, a bear, and a buffalo. Each animal was exhibited in a cage in the auction house for the public to inspect before making an offer.

Since we have the auctioneers’ catalogue for 1903, Dodgy Perth invites you to choose your next pet:

  • Lioness, tigress, brown bear (male)
  • Malayan honey bear, white dingo puppies
  • Equine deer, Pekinese deer, hog deer, fallow deer
  • Goat cart, harness and goat
  • Mule (broken to saddle and all kinds of harness)
  • Kangaroos, wallaby, African baboon
  • Young Macaque monkeys
  • South American marmosets, or pocket monkeys (beautiful ladies’ pets)
  • Ferrets (good for either rabbits or rats)
  • Tortoise (very large), tortoise (small baby)
  • Guinea pigs
  • White swans, black swans
  • Muscovy ducks, black ducks
  • English wild ducks, swamp hens
  • Silver seagulls, pea fowl
  • English pheasants, bronze-wing turkeys
  • Silver pheasants, red-legged partridges
  • Australian quail, guinea fowls
  • Silky fowls, Japanese red bantams
  • Blue and yellow macaw, red and blue macaw
  • Leadbeaters, pink cockatoos, sulphur crested white cockatoo, rosy cockatoos, cockatiels, parrots
  • Warbling parakeets, Indian cinnamon doves
  • Peaceful doves, diamond doves
  • Pigeons, from prize stock
  • Canaries, especially good lot
  • Java sparrows, diamond sparrows, Gouldian finches
  • African finches, English finches
  • Gold and silver fish

Brutish behaviour, and that’s just the zookeepers

penguinsSpeaking of Perth Zoo. In 1924 they threw a Tudor dress-up day. And a record crowd sat among the palms as Queen Elizabeths and Mary Queen of Scots.

Among the crowd was a journalist who wrote under the pen-name Omar Cayenne. We’ll call him Omar.

Omar loved the botanical garden feel of the place, but the plight of animals made him feel sick.

Take, for instance, the bears. Their habitat was so disgusting that if a circus proprietor kept animals in such condition he would have been jailed. They lived in conditions so bad, Omar recommended that no one should even look at them.

The Australian dingo, an animal whose home is the wide, open spaces. This poor brute was cooped up in an enclosure that resembled a freezing chamber. With only a concrete floor, the sick animal was trying to scrape a hole for himself in the hard floor. Obviously no one at the zoo thought to have put some sand in his den.

Nor did Omar approve of putting live frogs into the snakes’ cages, so they could be devoured in the presence of horrified children.

Walking through the grounds, all you could detect was the general air of decay and neglect. The excuse was that there was no money for repairs. Something Omar dismissed as a simple lie.

During the summer the zoo was the rendezvous for tens of thousands, attracted by the beautiful gardens and pleasure attractions for the kiddies. The tennis courts were packed and expensive to book, and so profitable the zoo kept expanding the number of them. There was plenty of money available to spend if they wanted to.

Omar had once lived near the zoo and could testify that during the summer months the stench arising from the place was overwhelming. He suspected the local government would have closed the place long ago if it wasn’t paying a good portion of the local rates.

Keep the birds and the plants, said Omar, and make an ideal botanical gardens. As for the animals, if their present miserable conditions cannot be improved they should be mercifully destroyed, and thus end this tragic farce.

The Dodgy Perth team have never been in favour of zoos, and it is entirely possible that Omar’s recommendations from 1924 should stand today.

Mauled in the lions’ den

Lions at South Perth Zoo

Lions at South Perth Zoo

In June 1952 a bizarre death occurred at Perth Zoo. Alexander Lindsay Edmeades, of Snook Crescent in Hilton, had jumped into the lions’ den where he was attacked by the occupant.

His badly-clawed body was found about 8 a.m. on the following day.

Strangely, the 36-year-old clerk was not seeking to end his life but attempting to prove his faith in God. A few days before his death, Alexander had written a letter announcing his intention to fast for 51 days, which would save many thousands of souls in Australia.

Alexander was suffering from schizophrenia, which had been triggered during World War II and his last-minute escape from Singapore. Before the war, there had been no signs of mental illness at all.

And Alexander was not the first to be killed in the lions’ den. Just one year earlier Dorothy Bostock had also climbed the 18ft enclosure and jumped to her doom, only discovered the next morning.

The coroner ruled that he did not believe Alexander’s motive was suicide, but a case of someone in the grip of a religious complex. Normal mental processes had been completely swamped by this mania.

Alexander genuinely believed that, like Daniel, God would protect him and that his actions would bring people to salvation.

“I would ask members of the public to take a generous view of this man’s action—and indeed of those of all people who take their lives,” the coroner added.

The naughty racist elephant

Jumboroo in 1922

Jumboroo in 1922

Hello children. Are you sitting comfortably? Today we will tell the story of Jumboroo the racist elephant.

Mr Le Souef was sad. He owned a zoo. But he did not own an elephant. “What use was a zoo without an elephant?” thought Mr Le Souef.

Mr Le Souef had a Government friend called Happy Jack Scaddan. In 1922 Happy Jack was visiting Kuala Lumpur. He saw they had lots of elephants. So he asked if Perth Zoo could have one.

The nice people in Kuala Lumpur said yes. They promised to send an elephant to Happy Jack as soon as possible. So little Jumboroo was caught and placed on-board a ship bound for Fremantle.

On they way, Jumboroo fell through a hatch on the deck and tumbled six metres into the cargo below. What a naughty elephant. After that he was held in tight chains for the rest of the journey. Don’t you think he deserved it, children?

When he arrived at Robb’s Jetty, Jumboroo was scared of the big crowd there. He tried to get away. The people said he was a very naughty elephant indeed.

Jumboroo was even more frightened when they used a crane to lift him onto a small ferry to take him to South Perth. He made lots of noise. The people said the elephant must be very wicked to be so noisy.

When they finally dragged Jumboroo into the zoo, he did not want to go. The naughty little elephant was terrified of the roaring tigers. So Mr Le Souef said he would keep the mischievous elephant in chains since he was not behaving himself.

All the children came to see Jumboroo at Mr Le Souef’s lovely zoo. But the naughty elephant did not like it at the zoo, and he would not play with the lovely children.

The zoo people decided Jumboroo was racist, and only liked black people from his home country.* And you can’t have a racist animal in Perth Zoo. Can you, children?

So Mr Le Souef sold Jumboroo to Perry’s Circus for fifty pounds.

And the naughty racist elephant went off to start his new life in the Eastern States as part of the circus entertainment. We are sure he must have been very happy in the circus. Everyone loves circuses, don’t they?

Goodbye, Jumboroo the racist elephant.

* Actually they did not say “black people”. They said another word Dodgy Perth cannot use, even if Kanye West can.

Up yours!

Definitely a parental advisory image

Definitely a parental advisory image

Are you suffering from nervous tension or constipation? Then you need to visit Perth Zoo. A choice of remedies were on offer, including a chance to bathe in radioactive water.

But if that hasn’t cured you, fear not. A nice lady attendant will happily offer you an enema. Or if you want something stronger, how about a complete intestinal cleansing?

In Perth Zoo. In 1950.

Dodgy Perth wonders what the animals made of all this.

Atomic alligator water…. seriously

Feeling sore? Do you know what would be good for you? Bathing in radioactive water. That would be just the thing to relieve your aches and pains.

But where, you ask, will I find this modern miracle? Look no further than Perth Zoo.

1928 Zoo Ad

Discovered around 1904 when Colonel Le Souef bathed in the alligator pond to cure his rheumatism, the radioactive baths became one of the main sources of money for the ever-impoverished zoological gardens.

In the 1920s, it cost just one shilling for admittance to the hot waters, although for a little more you could also get a Swedish massage from Madame Asta Idlund.

Along side those suffering from rheumatism, radioactivity was thought to be very good for those athletes who made regular visits.

But what about those radioactive alligators?