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The founding of a zoo in Georgian London is a story of jaw-dropping audacity in the Age of Empire. It is the story of diplomats, traders, scientists and aristocratic amateur naturalists charged by Sir Stamford Raffles with collecting amazing creatures from all four corners of the globe.It is the story of the first zoo in history, a weird and wonderful oasis in the heart of the filthy, swirling city of Dickensian London, and of the incredible characters, both human and animal, that populated it—from Charles Darwin and Queen Victoria to Obaysch the celebrity hippo, the first that anyone in Britain had ever seen. This is a story of Victorian grandeur, of science and empire, and of adventurers and charlatans.And it is the story of a dizzying age of Empire and industrialization, a time of change unmatched before or since.This is the extraordinary story of London Zoo.

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 U.K., European, and U.S. broadcasters. For The Zoo, she has made unprecedented use of the vast archives at the Zoological Society of London. She lives in London.