Wednesday, 31 December 2008

The Blackbourne Pavilion at London Zoo

The Blackbourne pavilion has recently been refurbished. As one of the older buildings of London Zoo, it has been remodelled in an homage to the Victorian collector. Outside the entrance is an enchanting ‘steam powered’ clock that does a display on the hour. Inside is a large oil style painting of a Victorian ornithologists study surrounded by silhouettes of various species of bird.

In the main area there are aviaries with toucans and bali starlings, coupled with a scatter of cabinets with museum style specimens of such things as birds eggs. This is particularly unusual as most Zoo exhibits focus on the conservation angle rather than the scientific angle.

The aviary room itself is very light, and the iron beams and pillars are all freshly painted and looking as good as when the house first opened in the 1800s.

Through the aviary to the first flight area. This is less Victorian apart from the binoculars, which resemble stereoscope machines.
When I visited one of these viewers had been appropriated by a bird as a nesting site and was roped off.

Past this room again is the main attraction of the Blackbourne Pavilion, the only free flying Humming Birds in Europe. They are almost impossible to photograph, but very nice to see.
Personally I found the Pavilion a very good reconciliation of modern Zookeeping with Victorian Architecture.

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