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A passion for pigeons

In the very early days of the zoo, Herbert Whitley’s passion for pigeons was evident for all to see, with over 100 varieties on display to visitors. The main lofts were located in the Picnic Lawn area, with the 1930 zoo map showing them as one of the main features of the newly opened zoo.

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Whitley’s original pigeon lofts were thought to display more pigeons than anywhere else in Europe.
In the early 1930s, pigeons were a central feature of Herbert Whitley’s zoo, with displays of domestic poultry, rabbits and guinea pigs also claiming centre stage.
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The pigeon lofts can be seen behind the central row of trees.
The map from 1953 shows a smaller range of pigeon lofts still on public display (no. 29 on the map). Also of note is ‘Bear Cage Walk’ where Baboon Rock now stands, and a very small elephant yard housing ‘Jumbo’ and ‘Hospie’ (no. 18). The lofts were demolished shortly after Herbert Whitley’s death a few years later.

Whitley’s pigeons

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Illustration of one of Whitley’s favourite pigeon species: the Blue Cropper.

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Herbert Whitley was renowned for his expertise in pigeon breeding, among other things.
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