Saturday, March 5, 2011

More on J J Boyd's Aramoho Zoo

I realised today that Papers Past have extended coverage of the Wanganui Chronicle to 1919 -- perfect when it comes to some trawling for references to Boyd's first zoo at Aramoho, north of Wanganui. You'll find my chapter on his zoo there in The Zoo War (2008), the text for that chapter currently up on Scribd.

This is the life and times of the Aramoho Zoo, started by Boyd in 1908. These articles date from three years into its period of existence.

7 January 1911

The lion cub born recently at the Aramoho Zoo; but which died a few days later, has been placed in the museum. It has been well mounted by Mr. H. W. Hesse, Curator.

18 January 1911

[Borough Council]
ARAMOHO ZOO.-From Mr J. J. Boyd, proprietor of the Aramoho Zoo, suggesting that the Council should form a footpath to the Zoo. or from the trams to the gate. He also thought the Council should arrange for the Harrison Band to play at the Zoo on occasions. Mr Boyd pointed out that he had established the zoo at great cost and had thereby made the trams profitable. As he had received the offer of a good opening in Auckland, he thought it would pay the Council to give him some encouragement to stay Wanganui—The Mayor thought the Council should do all it could to encourage Mr Boyd, and he moved that the Garrison Band and City Band be asked to give two concerts each before the winter. It was also decided to inform Mr Boyd that the footpath would be formed so soon as a standard survey was made.

20 January 1911

Admission: Adults 1s; Children over 12, 6d,
Under twelve, 3d.

11 February 1911

Mr J. J. Boyd, the popular proprietor of the Aramoho Zoo, is never happier than when he is getting something new or making additions to his collection of animals, etc. Both from an educative and pleasurable point of view, the Aramoho Zoo is worth a visit. The leopards and the puma are very fine specimens, and the lions and bears have grown considerably since their arrival; recent additions are monkeys from the Cape, and Lemier's monkeys [lemurs] from Madagascar, all splendid specimens. Besides seeing the animals and birds, all kinds of amusements may be indulged in such as croquet, billiards, quoits, swing-boating—all free. The children are also catered for, Mr Boyd having recently erected a child's swingboat, which holds six small children and is perfectly safe. The tea kiosk is well arranged and afternoon tea is always obtainable, Sundays included. The number of stuffed birds, butterflies, curios, etc., from all parts of the world, which are ranged around the walls, are well worth a visit of inspection. Either the Glasgow or Dublin Street cars will take you to the Aramoho terminus, and then it is only two minutes' walk. 

 4 March 1911

29 March 1911

THE ZOO.—From Mr J. J. Bovd, stating .that as he intends to establish a Zoo at Auckland, he would sell the Aramoho Zoo to the Borough Council for £10,000. He wished an early reply for, in the event of the Council not buying the Zoo, he would remove it to Auckland.—lt was decided to inform Mr Boyd that the Council had no intention of purchasing the zoo.

10 May 1911

The Aramoho Zoo is not to be removed, as Mr. J. J. Boyd's son is coming to Wanganui to take charge of it while Mr. Boyd Snr. attends to the Onehunga Zoo. Local residents will be glad to hear that the Zoo is to be continued.

23 May 1911

Mr and Mrs J. J. Boyd, jun., and three sons have arrived from Wellington to take charge of the Aramoho Zoo … Mr and Mrs J. J. Boyd, Sen., and Miss Boyd left by the Main Trunk train on Monday for Auckland. Mr. Boyd is to superintend the erection of the buildings for the Onehunga Zoo.

10 June 1911

The other provincial towns of New Zealand must awake and be brisk, or Wanganui will assuredly leave them in the race. In Wanganui is good provision of the things lively and of interest: good company, good climate, good cheer, good amusement. There is even a zoo, and the zoo at Aramoho is not to be despised. There are macaws there that took me immediately into their confidence, and who occupy honourable rank among the pleasantest chaps I met in the little city by the big river.

2 August 1911

[Report from Wanganui Museum.]
The additions are two fallow deer from Makirikiri, and a wallaby from the Aramoho Zoo. The latest addition is a ring-tailed lemur (lemur catta) which died at Mr. Boyd's Zoo and which has been placed amongst the Primates.

22 November 1911

[Borough Council meeting report]
Zoo. —Messrs Longmore and Co., in whose hands Mr. J. J. Boyd has put the Aramoho Zoo for sale, wrote offering it to the Council for £5,000. Failing a sale the animals are to be removed and the land cut up.—Referred to the Finance Committee.

22 December 1911

It is always a problem with heads of families and others as to what to do on a holiday. Just now many of our readers are concerned, as to where and how they should spend Boxing Day. With parents it is a question of where are they to take the children so as to derive the greatest enjoyment at the minimum of expense. This year, however, a solution will be easily found. Judging from what Mr. J. J. Boyd announces is to take place at the Zoo on Tuesday, there should be only one rendezvous for young and old that day —the Aramoho Zoo. If it were only for the sake of seeing the birds and animals, the Zoo would be a desirable place to take the children. One never gets tired of watching the inhabitants of the cages; for there is always something novel and interesting about them. They are an education in themselves. But for Boxing Day however, besides there being a ridiculously low price for admission, a great programme for the amusement of the young folks has been prepared. As set out in another column, there will be clowns, Punch and Judy and other mirth makers, while there will be innumerable prizes for the children, and all manner of races, scrambles, bran tubs, etc. There is also a baby show, and a beauty show, which should attract a large of entries. Hot water will be supplied free.

22 December 1911

20 March 1912

The two Teddy Bears from the Zoo are funny, especially on a fine day like Thursday will be. Look out for them on the trapeze. Please take some peanuts for them.

22 October 1912

The cosmopolitan family at the Onehunga Zoo seems to be thriving (says the Auckland "Star"). Mr. Boyd has imported a very fine baboon from Africa. Three cub lions were born on Tuesday week, and are doing well. The two Malay bears, the young Nepaul [sic] tiger, and the Victoria crowned pigeons, which were imported from India a few weeks back, are also in good condition. Two schools from the country and one from the city visited the Zoo during the week, and the children were much interested in the new arrivals.

(This included here because the “Nepaul tiger” was mentioned later, at Aramoho Zoo.)

16 November 1912

TO Let Aramoho garden and Zoo. Rent low. Apply T. J. Boyd, Foster's Hotel.

22 July 1913

[Wanganui East Boy Scouts fundraising]
Mrs. V. Stroobant, of Aramoho Tea Gardens and Zoo, offered to organise an entertainment and dance in aid of the funds. This offer was cordially accepted.

13 December 1913

Barton Bros. Circus proprietors, will arrive at Aramoho Tuesday, Dec. 16th. Location at the Zoo.

5 February 1914

The carcase of the lion which died at the Aramoho Zoo a few days ago has been treated by Mr. W. H. Hesse, curator of the Wanganui Museum. The animal was only about 18 months old when it died. It had a fine head, a magnificent set of teeth, and a beautiful coat. When ready for exhibition, the body of the lion will make a splendid acquisition to the Museum.

16 February 1914

ARRIVED and now on view, two beautiful lions, also other large animals, birds, monkeys, donkeys, tigers, bears, all alive. Aramoho Zoo

17 February 1914

[Report on preparations for Wanganui Carnival]
Aramoho Zoo. —Mr Robinson reported having interviewed the proprietress of the Aramoho Zoo, and that that lady had said the committee was welcome to the loan of anything in the Zoo. —It was decided to thank the proprietress for her kind offer.

26 February 1914

In a tent in the Avenue a remarkable freak of nature is being exhibited. It is a four-months' old calf with six and a-half feet. It is alive and well, and has come direct from the Aramoho Zoo. Much interest is being shown in the freak.

26 May 1914

WANTED— Old horses for the Aramoho Zoo.

1 June 1914

ON view, and all Alive —Lions, Tigers, Bears, Kangaroos, Lizards, Swans, Tortoises, Baboons, Monkeys. Peacocks, Jackasses. Donkeys, Oppossums. Variety of Birds. Aramoho Zoo.

28 August 1914

An unusual operation was performed at the Aramoho Zoo on Wednesday, when a fish-hook was extracted from the jaws of a lion. The fish hook had evidently found its way into the animal's mouth in a piece of meat. The lion was lassoed and tied down ,and then chloroformed. Professor Cowardine then entered the cage, and in a few minutes cut the hook out of the lion's jaw.

9 September 1914

[Wanganui Council] Building Inspector (Mr. T. M. Copeland) in his report to the Council for the month of August:—… He also inspected the Aramoho Zoo and found everything very satisfactory.

3 October 1914

The old Aramoho grounds are now wearing their best spring raiment, and are being visited by crowds. The public are perhaps not aware that there’s a good number of animals and birds at the zoo – lions, tigers, bears, kangaroos, monkeys etc. The Nepaul [sic] tiger is the only one of its kind in Australasia, and is a very fine specimen. Afternoon tea may always be procured on the grounds. Free swing boats are provided for the children, and altogether a most enjoyable and instructive time may be spent. The admission is only 6d and 3d, and trams run to within two hundred yards of the gate.

19 February 1915

A case of shocking cruelty to an animal was reported to us yesterday. It seems that a number of cattle were unloaded from a truck at the Aramoho railway yards on Wednesday. One beast was in a bad state, having been trampled on by others, and for 24 hours lay on the ground. Then came the crowning act, a carter yesterday afternoon putting a rope round the animal's carcase, and dragging it (still alive), along the roadway for some distance, when it was killed and the meat taken to the Aramoho Zoo. It is to be hoped the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will take action in the matter.

20 February 1915

(To the Editor.)
Sir,—l see in this morning's paper a case of fearful cruelty to an animal from the railway yards at Aramoho, and you distinctly say the meat was taken to the Aramoho Zoo. Please allow me to stoutly deny this, as not one grain of those animals was brought to our place. Hoping you will contradict the statement, as you have been most wrongly informed. —Yours, etc., (Mrs.) V. STROOBANT. Aramoho Zoo.

26 June 1915

WANTED Known.—Aramoho Zoo, new management. New animals just arrived. Now on view.

2 March 1916

WANTED Known.—The Aramoho Zoo to let, as a going concern; low rental to good tenant. Apply C. H. Burnett, Ridgway Street.

3 March 1916

Some excitement, and incidentally a little alarm, was occasioned at Aramoho on Wednesday by the escape from the Zoo of an old-man monkey. The animal, as it subsequently transpired, was tame enough, but its size and appearance were such as to suggest unpleasant possibilities, especially to any children who might arouse its wrath. There was, too, the danger of injury by shock in the event of any woman or child meeting the big and ugly brute unexpectedly. Consequently the chase for the vagrant was a serious business, and he was ultimately located among the upper branches of a tree, wherein he had stopped for a rest after his exciting scamper through gardens and over roofs. To the relief of the onlookers the big fellow submitted quietly to being roped by his keeper, by whom he was led back to captivity.

27 March 1916

Aramoho appears to be quite an exciting place to reside in. Recently a baboon escaped from the Zoo, and his example was followed last night by a brown bear. The animal wandered along the road towards the railway bridge. Here he was met by two men, homeward bound, and discussing the war. They possibly remembered the saying that "Two is company, and three is a crowd," and as far as they were concerned the bear soon had the road to himself. The news that the bear was out quickly spread, and for a time a state of mild siege reigned in the locality, despite a statement that the wanderer had a most benevolent disposition. Eventually the bear was induced to return to his home at the Zoo.

30 March 1916

We are informed that the carcase of the bear which escaped from the Aramoho Zoo, and which provided scope for big-game hunting on Sunday evening last, was allowed to lie until yesterday where it fell, beside the river bank. It is a pity that someone was not interested enough to arrange to take over the carcase for Museum purposes.

31 March 1916

A Malay bear at the Aramoho Zoo was deliberately poisoned yesterday … On hearing that the bear which escaped from the Aramoho Zoo on Sunday night had been shot, the hon. Curator of the Museum lost no time in securing the carcase. The carcase of the bear has been skinned, and will in due course be stuffed and placed among the many interesting exhibits at the Museum.

5 April 1916

At the meeting of the Borough Council last night a letter was received from the Aramoho Beautifying Society referring to the recent escape of wild animals from the Aramoho Zoo, and urging the Council to take the necessary steps to have the menagerie removed.

A petition signed by about two hundred Aramoho residents also urged action, and complained of alleged smells and the roaring of some of the animals, particularly during church hours. The Minister for Internal Affairs, who has been approached on the matter, wrote stating that the Council had power, under the Municipal Corporations Act of 1908, to make a by-law to deal with the matter. He also reminded them of a letter the Council wrote in 1910 urging that permission be granted for the establishment of the Zoo on the grounds that "it would be a great benefit to the town and district.''

The Mayor referred to the fact that the Onehunga Borough Council had passed a by-law to do away with the Onehunga Zoo, and the Supreme Court had upheld their action. The matter was now however, before the Appeal Court. The passing of a by-law would take time, and more animals might escape.

Referring to the complaints of noise, the Mayor thought that the residents themselves would have to take action in the civil court. There had been a complaint on a former occasion in regard to the bellowing of stock in the accommodation paddocks. However, the Council could move if public health or safety was concerned.

On the motion of the Mayor it was "decided to draw the attention of the police and the public health inspector to the alleged state of affairs at the Zoo, and to warn the proprietor that the Council would hold him responsible for any damage or danger that might occur.

5 May 1916

Re Aramoho Zoo— The Borough should purchase this property. The Zoo grounds offer a splendid opportunity for the Borough to acquire an open space and recreation ground for Aramoho. The grounds are nicely laid out and well planted with old and suitable trees, and contain a caretaker's house and such buildings as are required for a "Tea-house" and bandstand. The Zoo itself could be abandoned, if thought desirable. The present condition of affairs in this Zoo should not be allowed to continue. Have the Borough had any inspection made of the condition of the cages containing the animals? If so, when was the last inspection made previous to the animals escaping some few weeks ago? The escape of an adult chimpanzee and a medium-sized bear immediately alongside a public school ground may not be regarded by the Council as being a very serious matter, but when the three lions take a stroll round Aramoho one of these dark winter evenings, perhaps the residents may have something further, to say to those responsible in this matter.

23 May 1916

The defendant in a civil case heard at the Magistrate's Court yesterday said he was the lessee of the Aramoho Zoo. Under examination he said he paid 30s a week for the zoo, and the takings were about 25s weekly. He said he had also to provide the food for the animals, mentioning three horses and a cow in that respect. The defendant's evidence was suggestive of a speculation, as he expressed the opinion that in summer time the receipts might be considerably increased.

14 June 1916

Last night the Borough Council received a report from the engineer (Mr Staveley) on the Aramoho "Zoo". In consequence of the report it was decided to request the Proprietor to close the Zoo, and to remove the animals.

28 June 1916

In the appeal case, Boyd v. the Onehunga Borough Council, dealing with the right of the former to keep wild animals in the borough, the Appeal Count at Wellington unanimously held that clause 2 of the by-law was too wide and was therefore ultra vires and invalid, being couched in much wider language than the reason for passing the by-law expressed in the recital. Costs were allowed to the appellant in the Supreme Court and also in the Court of Appeal as on the highest scale and as from a distance. Further, a declaration was made that Clause 2 of the by-law was invalid. The decision is of interest to the Wanganui Borough Council, who have recently been discussing the removal of the Aramoho Zoo.

19 June 1919

FOR SALE. —Aramoho Tea Gardens. Terms or cash. Apply J. J. Boyd, onr., Royal Oak Zoo, Onehunga.


  1. I grew up in Aramoho about one street away from where the zoo was, and even in the 1980's there were stories told of the zoo. It is wonderful to read these transcripts.

  2. I grew up in Aramoho and heard stories about the zoo. Thanks for fleshing out some details. My Scottish grandparents lived quite near to the railway bridge about the time when the bear was on the loose.
    A bit more excitement than one really wants.

  3. I'm from the Wellington region although my 7 year old daughter lives in Wanganui wuth her mother and I lived in Wanganui in the 90s briefly aswell. I have a huge love of zoos and never knew about the Aramoho Zoo until we last visitted the newly re-opened Wanganui Museum earlier this year where I found a little about it. This read is fantastic and wonderful to gain the knowledge. Thank you for sharing!

  4. man thats really epic and i love the aka um zozoo and it is cool and im 9 and fortnite goood