WHEREASTO DAY THE Thames foreshore at Southwark is home to little more than the rotting carcasses of shopping trolleys, visitors to London 750 years ago might have beheld a giant polar bear roaming the shingle. The bear, one of the earliest inhabitants of the royal menagerie in the Tower of London, was encouraged to sally forth with its keeper and hunt the 'fat and sweet salrnons' of the river.
Since zoos are, in my opinion, best avoided, a volume promising 'a captivating insight' into their origins is not an obviously tempting prospect. But my prejudices were confounded by Daniel Hahn's lively and entertaining new book. The story of the famous collection of wild beasts that existed in the Tower