Extract from Zoological Society of London Secretary’s Report, February. 28th, 1854.
The Zoologist. Volume 12. Page 4277.
The number of visitors to the gardens, not being Fellows of the Society has exceeded all precedent, with the exception of the year of the Great Exhibition. But it is a remarkably interesting fact, that no single day even in that memorable summer approached the spectacle which was witnessed on Whit Monday last, when upwards of 22,000 persons paid for admission to the Society’s Collection.
Although this vast multitude necessarily embraced many grades of the population, it is a most gratifying fact, which deserves to be recorded, that not a single instance of misconduct in any shape occurred during the whole day; but, on the contrary, the general character of the assemblage was that of earnest and intelligent enjoyment.
It must be regarded as a subject of highest congratulations to the Society that their establishment has fixed itself in this practically useful manner upon the public mind; and the effect thus produced by it ought to stimulate to still further successes.
The principle new work of the year has been the arrangement of living fish, Mollusca, zoophytes, and other aquatic animals, first projected in 1851, which has probably excited more attention from its novelty and the intrinsic beauty of the objects themselves, than any other of the recent additions to the collection.
Although the series of tanks is limited to a length of 84 feet by the present extent of the building in which they are placed, an immense number of species have been exhibited in them, and it is a satisfactory proof of the control under which the method of management has been reduced, that there are at this moment several of the fish and zoophytes in the tanks which were placed there in May last; and, in the case of the fish more particularly, several others which formed part of the number experimented on in 1852.
The fish have spawned, and the zoophytes have produced their young in considerable abundance.
Algæ are growing luxuriantly in those tanks which are not agitated by the vivacious evolutions of the sea-fish, and this secondary feature is well worth the attention of botanist, to whom the opportunities thus afforded of studying the development of these plants are of the most complete character; while the extremely beautiful effect of colour, dependent partly on the Algæ themselves, and partly on the peculiar action of transmitted light, are not less instructive to the artist.
The present arrangement of the house consists of six tanks of freshwater animals, chiefly fish, on the western side; and seven of marine animals on the eastern side; exclusive of several movable tanks of smaller size, which are placed as occasion requires in various parts of the central area.
The zoophytes which are most attractive in appearance are the Actinias or Sea-Anemones. The finest examples of them are to be found in tanks 9, 10, and 11, in which every age of these curious animals is well illustrated.
A good illustration of that most singular fact in the physiology of zoophytes, the alternation of generations, is at present afforded here by the appearance of the detached young of Campanularia which appeared for the first time on the 9th of February.
The Crustaceans have been represented throughout the year by several of the smaller British species, among which the young of the hermit crab have also recently appeared in considerable numbers.
None of the Mollusca which have been obtained are more interesting or have lived more successfully than the species which belong to the Nudibranchiate genera, Æolis and Doris.
Ribands of spawn have been deposited by the last-named, and as the water in which they live is never disturbed, there is very little doubt that the whole existence of these animals will be here subjected to observation. The elaborate monograph of Messrs. Alder and Hancock, published by the Ray Society, facilitates the study of this group in the most delightful manner, and places a complete knowledge of it within the reach of every one who chooses to consult their work.
The curious group of Ascidian Polypes (which take an intermediate station between zoophytes and Mollusca) have been copiously illustrated, frequent specimens of Botryllidæ, or compound Ascidians, of Ascidiadæ, or simple Ascidians, having been received, although from their sluggish leathery appearance they may not have attracted so much attention as their peculiar organization deserves.
(The report continues without further mention of the Aquatic Vivaria or its inhabitants.)
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