The lion of the king. Not to be confused with The Lion King. ;) This lion was part of the royal menagerie of king Louis Napoleon (in Dutch: Lodewijk Napoleon), a brother from French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. From 1806 until 1810 Louis Napoleon ruled the Kingdom of Holland.
He would introduce lasting reforms. Louis also wanted to stimulate the arts and sciences in The Netherlands. He appointed Caspar Georg Carl Reinwardt to manage a newly setup royal garden and menagerie. The Paris Jardin des Plantes was taken as example. The gardens and zoo were seen as locations where the sciences, arts and curiosity intersected. The public should be amazed by the richness, diversity and rawness of nature.
The exotic animals were bought from Antoine Alpy, a circus director who had around 30 exotic animals to sell to the king. Lions, zebras, monkeys and many birds were first transported to Paleis Soestdijk. In November 1808 the menagerie was moved to Haarlem where the menagerie was to be constructed. However, the capricious king decided in Spring 1809 that the menagerie was to be located in Amsterdam. The animals were to to be transfered once more and were temporarily housed in the orangery of the Amsterdam Botanical Gardens. Many animals didn't survive the stress of continuous transport. Also, correct diets and housing conditions for the animals was a case of trial and error. Exotic animal care was still very much in its infancy. After the king abdicated on 1 July 1810 the remaining animals were finally transported to the Paris Jardin des Plantes.
The first public zoo in the Netherlands would still be three more decades away. Natura Artis Magistra would open its doors in 1838.
The lion, painted by Pieter Gerardus van Os, is the only visual reminder of this ultimately failed project by Louis Napoleon. The painting is now part of the art collections of @Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. #menagerie #zoo #naturalhistory #exoticanimals #lion #king #lionking #louisnapoleon #lodewijknapoleon #napoleonbonaparte #reinwardt #paleissoestdijk #houseoforange #haarlem #hortusbotanicusamsterdam #amsterdam #jardindesplantes #paris #artis #naturaartismagistra #PieterGerardusvanOs #rijksmuseum