Ostrich cart , 1875.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Plate taken from the 'Illustrated London News'. Collecting unusual animals had been a past-time for several centuries, the first menagerie being acquired by Henry I. By the nineteenth century, zoos had taken on a public character after the opening of Regent's Park Zoo in 1828 and began to be credited with 'scientific' purpose, as well as demonstrating the extend of the British empire. The ostrich here is being steered by reins clamped to its beak: the cart is strapped under its wings and body. Ostriches from South Africa were particularly valued in 1875 as the demand for their feathers, fashionable adornments for both men and women, had reached its peak.