The Zoological Institute in United States

The Zoological Institute


Owner 1835-1837: Gerard Crane
1835-1837: Edward S. Eldred
1835-1837: Thaddeus Crane Jr.
1835-1837: Lewis Bailey
1835-1837: Epenetus Howe
1835-1837: Harvey Birchard
1835-1837: Franz Nock Sr.
1835-1837: Rufus Welch
1835-1837: Verena Nock-Hochstrasser
1835-1837: Eisenhart Purdy
1835-1837: Zebedee Macomber
1835-1837: J. E. M. Hobby
1835-1837: Darius Ogden
1835-1837: James Raymond
1835-1837: Stebbins June
Closed down1837
Country United States


Key People


Elephant department

Head keepers
of elephants
1860-: Stewart Craven
(elephant trainer)

Elephant keepers
Record history
History of updates2022-04-10

Latest document update2022-04-10 14:37:22
Random literature
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases

The Zoological Institute, United States , was founded in 1835. The Zoological Institute closed down in 1837.

Comments / pictures
Records about The Zoological Institute from A History of the Traveling Menagerie at
In January, 1835, in Somers, New York, a gathering of menagerie owners and interested investors took place at which a capital stock company was formed called The Zoological Institute. Its stated purpose was “to more generally diffuse and promote the knowledge of natural history and gratify rational curiosity.”

The corporation assets consisted of all the menageries then in existence, sixteen of them, plus cash contributions from both corporate and individual investors.

The initial capitalization was $329,325. Five directors were appointed and they divided the assets into thirteen shows, three of which had circuses attached to them. There were only five traveling exhibitions in 1835 that were not owned by the Institute, all of them circuses.

The initial season was not a success, and the number of menageries was reduced to seven for 1836. Then, in the next year, the country was gripped by the most devastating economic depression prior to 1929. Called the Panic of 1837, it put paid to the Zoological Institute. From then, the animal exhibition business was in the hands of James Raymond and his rivals, June, Titus, Angevine & Co. Raymond bought the assets of the June interests in 1842 and ruled alone until his death in 1854. At that point the traveling menagerie in America became a matter of but one or two shows each season, a shadow of its onetime dominance of field exhibitions.

Stuart Thayer, A History of the Traveling Menagerie

1835: In an attempt at monopoly the leading menagerie and circus proprietors capitalized the Zoological Institute in January, 1835.
In 1835, the Zoological Institute absorbed all the menageries in the country - there were sixteen extant in 1834 - and ended the first phase of individual management.
1837: The words “Zoological Institute” appear in various show titles for several seasons after 1837, but there is no evidence that the association itself was still viable. The auction in Somers, New York, in August, 1837 of two menageries and one circus would seem to indicate the end of the Zoological Institute.

From then until the 1850s almost all the animal exhibits in the country were controlled by just two firms. By then, the circus and menagerie had been merged and with one or two exceptions each season the menagerie business had ceased to thrive.

On January 14, 1835, 128 of these men gathered at the Elephant Hotel in Somers to sign the Articles of Association of the Zoological Institute. Some pages of the document have not been scanned because extreme fading of the ink makes them almost unreadable; the transcript, however, is of the complete document.

While the economic panic of 1837 just two years later all but wiped out the Institute, the organization formalized the menagerie business, which eventually became the modern circus, and thus the Articles of Association document is arguably the “birth certificate” of the American Circus.

References for records about The Zoological Institute

Recommended Citation

Koehl, Dan (2024). The Zoological Institute, Elephant Encyclopedia. Available online at (archived at the Wayback machine)

Sources used for this article is among others:

The Zoological Institute on

The Zoological Institute is mentioned on Elephant News:

DateLinks which opens in new window
2020-10-25On this date in maine history: oct. 25, 1836 - Elephant News

Search more with Google for The Zoological InstituteThe link will automatically include The Zoological Institute and open a new browser window.

Search more on the Internet Web for The Zoological InstituteThe link will automatically include The Zoological Institute and open a new browser window

Categories circus in United States | United States Portal | northamerica Portal

About this documentThis document was updated: 2022-04-10 14:37:22 with valid HTML5 Valid CSS

Elephant Encyclopedia and database

Established 1995
Established 2006
Your ip:
Kulen Elephant Forest