Guide to the Records of the Zoological Society of London (as filmed by the AJCP)



National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2019

Collection Summary

Zoological Society of London
Records of the Zoological Society of London (as filmed by the AJCP)
Date Range
13 August 1821 - 27 July 1903
Collection Number
58 items
Language of Materials
Australian Joint Copying Project
The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) online portal was created with the assistance of the Australian Public Service Modernisation Fund, 2017-2020. The National Library of Australia gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the other foundation AJCP partners, the State Library of New South Wales and The National Archives of the UK, and all other organisations which supported the work of the AJCP, the world's most extensive collaborative copying project, operating from 1948 to 1997.


Scope and Contents

A small collection of letters, mostly written to P.L. Sclater, relating to the discovery of new species of animals, birds and fishes in Australia, New Guinea and New Zealand, and to the conservation and exchange of animals between zoos.

Correspondents include George Bennett, John Gould, A. Gunther, G. Krefft, Lord Onslow, Sir Stamford Raffles, E.P. Ramsay and A.R. Wallace.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for Access.

Conditions Governing Use

Many of the records digitised as part of the AJCP are still in copyright. Readers wishing to publish or reproduce documents should seek permission, in the first instance, from the owner of the original material.

Preferred Citation

Acknowledgement of use of this material should refer to the location of the original material and to the Australian Joint Copying Project.

Items from this collection should include references to the location of the original material and to the AJCP nla.obj number, which serves as the online identifier for the digital copy.

Example: M Series: Journal of Capt. James Cook, 18 February 1770, British Library Add. MS 27885 (AJCP ref:

Archival History

Filmed at the Zoological Society of London, London, as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1981 (AJCP Reel: M1196). Original microfilm digitised as part of the NLA AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.

Existence and Location of Originals

Zoological Society of London, Outer Circle, Regent's Park, London, England.

For further information see the Zoological Society of London. []

Existence and Location of Copies

The original AJCP microfilm of the records filmed from this collection is available at the National Library of Australia [] as well as other institutions holding AJCP microfilm.

Finding-aid Notes

This finding aid is a revised online version of the original finding aid prepared by the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP), published by the National Library of Australia in 2019. The original AJCP finding aids were unpublished typescripts or photocopies available from libraries that held copies of the original microfilm.

Dates used in this finding aid refer to the date range of the records selected for filming rather than to the date range of the Series or Files.


Australia; Australia: flora and fauna; Bennett, George (Sydney); Birds; Fish and fisheries; Gould, John; Great Britain; Gunther, Albert; Krefft, Johann G.; New Zealand; New Zealand: flora and fauna; Onslow, William H., 4th Earl; Raffles, Sir Thomas Stamford; Ramsay, E.P.; Sclater, P.L.; Wallace, Alfred R.; Zoological Society of London; Zoology


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry 512, p. 197. []

Biographical / Historical

The first General Meeting of the Zoological Society was held in April 1826, when it was resolved that its objects should be 'the formation of a Collection of living Animals, a Museum of preserved Animals, and a Library connected with the subject.' Sir Stamford Raffles was elected the first President. He died three months later and his Sumatran Collection formed the basis of the Museum. In 1829 the Society became a Chartered Body, with the title of Zoological Society of London.

In the early years much of the interest of the Society's officials was centred on the Museum, but it was an expensive undertaking and in 1856 it was decided to transfer its collections to the British Museum. The Society was granted a lease of 20 acres in Regent's Park in 1826 and in 1828 the Zoological Gardens were opened to the public. In 1834 another 10 acres were granted and the Gardens were further enlarged in later years. In 1928 the Society purchased 480 acres at Whipsnade, Bedfordshire, as a site for a second zoo. From 1843 to 1910 the offices of the Society were in Hanover Square. The library grew steadily, totalling 150,000 volumes in 1980. The first scientific meeting was held in 1829 and the Society's Scientific Proceedings commenced publication in 1830. It was followed by the Transactions in 1833 and in 1886 the Society accepted sole responsibility for the publication of the Zoological Record.

Most of the early records of the Society were disposed of during World War II and only a selection of letters have been retained. They were mostly written to D.W. Mitchell, Secretary in 1847-1859, and P.L. Sclater, Secretary in 1859-1902.

Source: P. Chalmers Mitchell. Centenary history of the Zoological Society of London. (London, Zoological Society of London, 1929)

Item Descriptions

M. Allport (Hobart) to P.L. Sclater, 10 August 1869 (File)

Success of salmon spawning experiment in Tasmania.

M. Allport to P.L. Sclater, 6 November 1869 (File)

Sends paper on introduction of salmon to Tasmania.

G. Bennett (Sydney) to P.L. Sclater, 6 September 1870 (File)

Specimens of Ceratodus forsteri, reptilian fish, received from Mary's Creek, Queensland; three specimens of wood hen sent to Society.

G. Bennett to P.L. Sclater, 20 February 1871 (File)

Despatch of wood hens from Howe Island; C. Moore had sent white kangaroo rat.

L.A. Bernays (Brisbane) to [P.L. Sclater], 15 May 1869 (File)

Sends package of seeds.

L.A. Bernays to P.L. Sclater, 10 August 1870 (File)

Queensland Acclimatisation Society declines to exchange specimens.

Sir Arthur Bigge to [P.C. Mitchell], 27 July 1903 (File)

Offers Society specimen of South Australian dove and green parroquet.

W.H. Catlett (Sydney) to P.L. Sclater, 15 November 1890 (File)

Receipt of English squirrel for Sydney Zoo; sends pair of American foxes originally purchased to destroy rabbits in New Zealand.

G.P. Clifford (Dunedin) to [P.L. Sclater], 2 April 1870 (File)

Despatch of New Zealand birds Apteryx and Kakapo; Otago Acclimatisation Society requires game or insect-eating birds.

J. Gould to [D.W. Mitchell], 5 February 1851 (File)

Offers his collection of humming-birds for exhibition, provided Society erects suitable house and half receipts go to Gould.

J. Gould to [D.W. Mitchell], 19 September 1851 (File)

Extension of exhibition.

J. Gould to D.W. Mitchell, 5 November 1851 (File)

Erection of building in Zoo for humming-birds.

J. Gould to [D.W. Mitchell], 4 December 1851 (File)

Offers to place collecting of humming-birds at disposal of Society for exhibition for 12 months.

Humming-bird account, 1851 (File)

A.C.L.G. Gunther (British Museum) to P.L. Sclater, 30 March 1870 (File)

G. Krefft wishes his discovery of Ceratodus to be published as soon as possible.

A.C.L.G. Gunther to P.L. Sclater, 5 April 1870 (File)

Has arranged cuts of Ceratodus.

A.C.L.G. Gunther to P.L. Sclater, 7 September 1870 (File)

Wishes to acquire additional specimens of Ceratodus.

A.C.L.G. Gunther to P.L. Sclater, 5 October 1870 (File)

Tree frogs; snakes; Ceratodus.

A.C.L.G. Gunther to P.L. Sclater, 13 December 1870 (File)

Naming of specimens of Tasmanian salmon.

A.C.L.G. Gunther to P.L. Sclater, 28 December 1868 (File)

Sends letter from J. Hector.

J. Hector (Wellington) to [A.C.L.G. Gunther], 9 September 1868 (File)

Has despatched with Sir George Grey two live specimens of Hatteria.

Sir Joseph Hooker to P.L. Sclater, n.d. (File)

Inquiry by Featherston on progress of W.L. Buller's Birds of New Zealand.

Sir William Hooker to P.L. Sclater, 2 April 1861 (File)

Australian trees and shrubs sent to Ascencion Island; has led to increase in insects which might be reduced by introduction of suitable birds.

Correspondence between W. Purdy, manager of South Australian Banking Company, and D.W. Mitchell, March 1856 - May 1857 (File)

Concerning money fraudulently obtained by J. Houston, sent to Australia in 1855, using forged letter of Mitchell. (11 letters)

W.S. Kent to P.L. Sclater, 28 February 1884 (File)

Owing to appointment as Inspector of Fisheries in Tasmania will have to give up management of Brighton Biological Laboratory.

W.S. Kent to P.L. Sclater, 29 September 1886 (File)

Sends monthly report: good prospects for oyster fishery of Tasmania.

G. Krefft (Sydney) to P.L. Sclater, 13 July 1869 (File)

Birds found in New Ireland; wealth of collections of Australian Museum but no time to describe them; has been made Chevalier of Crown of Italy.

G. Krefft to P.L. Sclater, 10 June 1870 (File)

Importance of Ceratodus; has heard of fish in Queensland which walks from pool to pool and climbs trees; wishes to explore Wide Bay district; strange lizard.

G. Krefft to P.L. Sclater, 29 December 1870 (File)

Cost of sending specimens to England; collector sent to Queensland for Ceratodus; requests some birds for Australian Museum.

Lord Onslow to [P.L. Sclater], 29 June 1892 (File)

Offers Society pair of Keas, New Zealand parrots.

Lord Onslow to P.L. Sclater, 8 July 1892 (File)

Nomenclature of Keas.

Memorandum by Lord Onslow on diminution of native birds in New Zealand (printed), 1892 (File)

Lord Onslow to P.L. Sclater, 23 January 1893 (File)

Sends report on suitability of Little Barrier Island as reserve for native birds of New Zealand; suggests Society urge New Zealand Government to purchase Island. (see H. Wright)

Lord Onslow to P.L. Sclater, 27 January 1893 (File)

Error in labelling Keas in Zoo.

Lord Onslow to P.L. Sclater, 24 May 1895 (File)

Extinction of wingless and other birds in New Zealand; suggests representations be made to J.G. Ward, New Zealand Treasurer.

Sir Stamford Raffles (Bencoolen) to Sir Everard Home, 13 August 1821 (File)

Sends head of Sumatran elephant; does not believe Babiroussa exists in Sumatra or Java; geographical and geological work in Sumatra.

E.P. Ramsay (Sydney) to P.L. Sclater, 13 July 1870 (File)

Visit to Queensland; is sending Ceratodus.

E.P. Ramsay to P.L. Sclater, 6 September 1870 (File)

Sends bill of lading; discovery of other specimens of Ceratodus.

E.P. Ramsay to P.L. Sclater, 4 November 1870 (File)

Acknowledges papers; habits of Ceratodus.

E.P. Ramsay to P.L. Sclater, 27 January 1871 (File)

Arrival of Ceratodus in England; its habits and location.

G.S. Sale to [P.L. Sclater], 10 September 1870 (File)

Offers only live specimen in England of Kakapo, New Zealand parrot.

Capt. R.F. Scott to P.L. Sclater, [1901]-06-24 (File)

Difficulty with dogs to be taken on Antarctic Expedition; seeks assistance.

W.J. Scott (Cardwell, Qld.) to P.L. Sclater, 9 November 1868 (File)

Capture of cassowary in Lower Herbert district; difficulty in preserving head; hopes to send it to Society.

G. Sprigg (Melbourne) to P.L. Sclater, 26 August 1863 (File)

Sends papers on action taken by Acclimatisation Society of Victoria to procure specimens of pigeons at Navigator's Islands.

J.G. Vidjen (Brisbane) to [P.L. Sclater], 30 August 1869 (File)

Shipment of birds to England; receipt of English birds and rooks.

A.R. Wallace (Sourabaya) to P.L. Sclater, September 1861 (File)

Stay on island of Bourn; its affinities with Celebes; difficulty of ascertaining true locality of birds of Paradise, which are carried by traders; difficulty in obtaining cassowary.

M. Moss to [A.R. Wallace], 3 February 1862 (File)

Offers two birds of Paradise for $500.

Receipt by M. Mass for $400 for birds of Paradise, 6 February 1862 (File)

A.R. Wallace (Singapore) to P.L. Sclater, 7 February 1862 (File)

Purchase of birds of Paradise; plans for voyage home.

A.R. Wallace (Ceylon) to S. Stevens, 16 February 1862 (File)

Voyage to England with living birds of Paradise; seeks advice on when to bring them to England.

A.R. Wallace to P.L. Sclater, 31 March 1862 (File)

Arrival in England with birds of Paradise; their food.

A.R. Wallace to P.L. Sclater, 4 April 1862 (File)

Expenses in bringing home birds of Paradise.

A.R. Wallace to P.L. Sclater, 7 April 1862 (File)

Expenses in bringing home birds of Paradise.

A.R. Wallace to P.L. Sclater, [1862-05] (File)

Seeks skins of bird of Paradise.

A.R. Wallace to P.L. Sclater, 19 June 1875 (File)

Inquires about paper on Galapagos Islands; seeks lists of birds and reptiles.

A.R. Wallace to P.L. Sclater, 17 September 1880 (File)

Skins of South Australian birds.

A.R. Wallace to P.L. Sclater, 7 June 1897 (File)

Distribution of marine mammals, particularly in Pacific.

H. Wright. Report to J. Ballance, New Zealand Premier, on suitability of Little Barrier Island as native bird reserve (printed), 17 October 1892 (File)