The Zoological Institute in United States

The Zoological Institute


Typecircus
Founded1835
First elephant0
Closed down1837
CountryUnited States

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.

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