This is the site of the former Beaumaris Zoo, on the Queen’s Domain in Hobart. The zoo was first established as a private collection in a garden in Sandy Bay, that the owner, Mary Roberts, opened to the public. When she died in 1921, the zoo was gifted to the city, and moved to this site on the Domain, where it was opened two years later. You can read that bit here.
These gates were erected a few years back. They say interesting things (some of which are included below in italics) like:
The Beaumaris Zoo opened here in 1923. In its early years it was a popular outing for the people of Hobart, but in the 1930s, the Great Depression led to falling attendance and rising financial losses. The zoo closed in 1937. In 1942, the Royal Australian Navy converted the site in to a fuel oil storage depot. It remained in use until as recently as the 1900s, when the four storage tanks were removed.
but they’re not the original main entrance. This end of the site is the most interesting, as it has the most obvious remains.
Looking down from the top road (the gates are behind the tree in the middle), you can see the polar bear enclosure and the duck pond.
And there’s the duck pond, again, and the leopard enclosure.
Here’s the duck pond when the zoo was operational:
So, the gates give the best view of the interesting bits. Here, the duck pond and leopard enclosure again.
And the polar bear enclosure. There’s a photo on Wikimedia Commons that shows that from other (front) side.
Zoo security at Beaumaris was not always perfect. On a January afternoon in 1926, one of the polar bears leaped across the moat and came within an inch of clawing over the bars — the island inside their enclosure was quickly lowered.
The rest of the site is mostly trees and grass.
There’s a map from the Hobart City Council that shows where all the exhibits were. (There’s a more legible version here, if you can get the PDF to behave.) There were at least two tiger pens, but I think the one that is seen in most photos is the one behind the polar bears. (You can the polar bear den in the background of this photo.)
The biggest feature on the map is the lion’s enclosure. The panel at the gate says:
The lions’ den was directly opposite the original entrance, 100 metres further along towards the Botanical Garden.
Let’s move along a bit then.
As best I can tell, the lion enclosure was about here.
Before the zoo opened, the Council sent newly-appointed curator Arthur Reid to visit zoos in Sydney and Melbourne. Impressed by the open moated enclosures at Taronga Zoo, Mr Reid recommended the same modern approach for Beaumaris, and the den was built around the sandstone cliff-face where convicts had quarried stone to build Government House in the 1850s. (The building of the house was in the 1850s, not the quarrying stone. This site was apparently a quarry from the 1820s.)
The remains you can see at the top of the hill, a bit closer here, are possibly from the finch enclosure. (There are remnants of that enclosure left, and on the map, the finches are behind and to the right of the lions.)
This photo from QVMAG shows the area around the main entrance (off to the left), with kiosk on the left and the lions on the right and a bird aviary in the middle.
(QVM:1993:P:0295 View of Hobart Zoo Hobart Tasmania featuring various animal enclosures and buildings c 1928.jpg)
This photo from the Tasmanian Archives & Heritage Office shows the same view from the other direction. With the lions on the left, the aviary in the middle and the kiosk behind the tree on the right. That cage on the right is the Sun Bears.
The Sumatran sun bears also caused some excitement. Swapped with Chapmans of London for four Tasmanian devils, two eagles and four wombats, these creatures of the tropical reainforest lived in a cramped, poorly-drained cage.
At different times, both escaped by tearing the wire with teeth and claws. In one of the incidents, a keeper was severely bitten when he tried to force the animal back with a pitchfork. Nr Newman never recovered from the injury–he died soon after returning to work.
The sun bears’ fate was decided more quickly — roaming free on the Domain, they were shot by police.
So if you’re ever down on the Domain, passing this fence, you can stop and think about the polar bears and lions and the poor sad sun bears breaking out and running free through the gun trees.