- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Libri Publishing (Jan. 1 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1907471715
- ISBN-13: 978-1907471711
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.5 x 22.9 cm
- Shipping Weight: 540 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,340,051 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Tiger That Swallowed the Boy: Exotic Animals in Victorian England Paperback – Jan 1 2013
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About the Author
John Simons is the executive dean of arts at Macquarie University and a fellow of the Higher Education Academy, the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, the Royal Society of Arts, and the Zoological Society of London. He is the author of Animal Rights and the Politics of Literary Representation and Rossetti’s Wombat.
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The book is about exotic animals in various kinds of shows in Victorian Britain. The strange, the odd, the foreign all were exhibited. The animals typically were African, such as giraffes and lions, but also from elsewhere. Elephants, tigers, hippos, camels, bears, they all were in one show or another. The shows were small and they were large; some seem to have been like sideshows of freaks and others, more like circuses or actually were circuses. Any way that curious people could be induced to pay was used in these attractions.
The attractions were closely tied to the trade in animals; firms specialized in importing various alien animals, in toto a large scale, sometimes small animals and sometimes large. The conditions the animals experiences would strike people today as barbaric, although some of the dealers seem to have loved animals. Animals brought to Britain were not just exotic, they were living proof of the reach of the Empire.
The book details a number of complexities such as big cats escaping and wreaking mayhem. Some of these are wryly amusing and some just sad. One could also number these animals as casualties of empire.
One brief mention that is intriguing is there was apparently an attempt to import the passenger pigeon to Britain, but that failed.
The book falls under the heading of "oddly interesting" or something like that. It contributes to the history of popular entertainments, and while focused on UK, it is safe to assume that it indicates patterns in the USA and elsewhere. In spots it is a bit slow.