PICTURES. Discover the animals of the Tête d’Or park 100 years ago

The Tête d’Or park is home to a very famous zoological park. Go back 100 years to discover the animals, in pictures. Here, the crocodiles, symbolic reptiles of this zoo. (©Archive of Lyon / 4FI_761)

The zoological garden of the Parc de la Tête d’Or has a great reputation. Created in 1858, a year after the inauguration of the park, it gradually accommodates an increasing number of animals.

With the rise of photography in Lyon, the first postcards of the zoological garden were published shortly after the start of the 20th century.

The animals strike a pose in black and white, these cards are delivered by post as a souvenir and are now in the archives of the City of Lyon. Dive back 100 years to discover a zoo from another century.

Deer colonize the park

The Parc de la Tête d’Or zoo was not, in its origins, predestined to welcome lions or crocodiles. First, it was just an educational farm with dairy cows, sheep and a handful of wild animals.

Deer are the first to settle in the park. At first numbering about twenty, they have, from generation to generation, created a veritable herd.

In 1908, here are the hinds of the Tête d'Or park.
In 1908, here are the hinds of the Tête d’Or park. (©Lyon Archives / 4FI_734)
Around 1910, curious fallow deer fascinated visitors.
Around 1910, curious fallow deer fascinated visitors. (©Lyon Archives / 4FI_738)

Around the birds

The birds are gradually taking their place. First swans, free in the park, then birds of all types, and even some exotic ones.

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The “bird corner”, with its dovecote. (©Lyon Archives / 4FI_732)
The peacocks are part of it, here around 1910.
The peacocks are part of it, here around 1910. (©Lyon Archives / 4FI_761)
Even pelicans.
Even pelicans. (©Lyon Archives / 4FI_754)
Parrots fascinate.
Parrots fascinate. Perhaps it is due to their resemblance to the hats of the time? (©Lyon Archives / 4FI_758)

More and more exotic animals arrive

The park began to metamorphose from the 1860s: after the antelopes, bears and wolves, more and more exotic animals multiplied at the rate of development.

In 1910, the wolves of the Tête d'Or park lived in a tiny cage.
In 1910, the wolves of the Tête d’Or park lived in a tiny cage. (©Lyon Archives / 4FI_765)
The people of Lyon discovered the llama, here in 1910.
The people of Lyon discovered the llama, here in 1910. (©Lyon Archives / 4FI_757)
A dromedary measures a curious Lyonnais, here around 1910.
A dromedary fathoms a curious Lyonnais, here around 1910. The postcard is published with an error: camels have two humps, so it is a dromedary. (©Lyon Archives / 4FI_766)

The farm disappears, now panthers, lions and an elephant are housed there.

The famous elephant
The famous elephant “Loulou”, which comes from Indochina and which is the first to live in the park. He lived there for 15 years, here in 1910. (©Lyon Archives / 4FI_767)

We welcome zebras and even kangaroos.

Flamingos, big cats, monkeys, giraffes… Many animals are not part of this non-exhaustive list.

In the 21st century, zoos face multiple challenges from the perspective of the welfare of wild animals in captivity. In 2021 in particular, animal rights activists are calling for the closure of the Parc de la Tête d’Or zoo.

After the death of the last lion in Lyon, it’s the crocodiles’ turn to leave the park. These were two promises from the City of Lyon and the environmental executive at the start of their mandate.

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