In this era of climate change, of melting ice caps, vast chunks of icy continents drifting into new territories and stranded polar bears, you’d still doubt London has ever seen a giant white arctic mammal fishing in the River Thames. But it has…

King Henry III ruled between 1216-1272 and during this period he enjoyed the company of a polar bear. The bear in question, which must have been bewildered, to say the least, was a present of the King of Norway and was routinely allowed to enjoy what was the only thing even vaguely close to its original habitat – The Thames.

London Bridge

Stock Photograph

And it wasn’t the only misplaced beast to be seen in and around the Tower of London; lions, ostriches, leopards, elephants and chimpanzees made up a menagerie that significantly pre-dated any more modern concept of safari parks.

It also pre-dated commonsense and any notion of safety as it resulted in many incidents and accidents.