This is illustrated Eccentricities of the Animal Creation .. Curious creatures of Animal Life have been objects of interest to mankind in all ages and countries; the universality of which may be traced to that feeling which makes the whole world kin. It has been remarked with emphatic truth by a popular writer, that we have in the Bible and in the engraven and pictorial records the earliest evidence of the attention paid to Natural History in general. The `navy of Tarshish` contributed to the wisdom of him who not only `spake of the trees from the cedar of Lebanon, even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall,` but `also of beasts, and of fowls, and of creeping things, and of fishes,` to say nothing of numerous other passages showing the progress that zoological knowledge had already made.
The Egyptian records bear testimony to a familiarity not only with the forms of a multitude of wild animals, but with their habits and geographical distribution. The collections of living animals, now popularly known as Zoological Gardens, are of considerable antiquity. We read of such gardens in China as far back as 2,000 years; but they consisted chiefly of some favourite animals, such as stags, fish, and tortoises. The Greeks, under Pericles, introduced peacocks in large numbers from India. The Romans had their elephants; and the first giraffe in Rome, under Cæsar, was as great an event in the history of zoological gardens at its time as the arrival in 1849 of the Hippopotamus was in London. The first zoological garden of which we have any detailed account is that in the reign of the Chinese Emperor, Wen Wang, founded by him about 1150 A.D. and named by him The Park of Intelligence; it contained mammalia, birds, fish, and amphibia. The zoological gardens of former times served their masters occasionally as hunting-grounds. This was constantly the case in Persia; and in Germany, so late as 1576, the Emperor Maximilian II. kept such a park for different animals near his castle, Neugebah, in which he frequently chased.