Another class this afternoon, this time looking at the Diary of Henrietta Matilda Crompton who was born in Yorkshire in 1793 into a very rich family, rich enough to spend each 'Season' in the city of York, entertaining, going to various events like balls, races, theatres and generally dressing up and being seen in the social setting.
It was a really interesting afternoon - we have a very good tutor who gets us all involved in the discussion. But an aspect of it about which I really didn't know anything was the Travelling Menageries. In those days folk knew little about the care of animals or 'beasts' as they thought of them. They were kept in conditions described as 'the finest health, condition and cleanliness, the interiors being rendered warm and comfortable by continued fires being kept'. At nine o'clock each night all the animals were fed.
These menageries (elephants, lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, ocelots, panthers, polar bears etc.) travelled around the country - they would make huge caravans on the road - some of the trailers would be pulled by horses and some by elephants (there are quite a few pictures on Wikipedia if you want to look at them).
When you think of today's Safari Parks and the fact that we can all see these animals in various wildlife programmes even if we don't want or can't afford to travel to their native countries to see them it is really quite distressing to imagine the life these poor animals had.
I don't think this attitude to wild animals has changed for the better in all parts of the world, but maybe we are slowly getting there.