|Beaumaris Zoo [Hobart] -
Bay [1895-1921], Queen's Domain [1922-1937] (continued):
The Mercury article continues:
It is very gratifying to me that through my exertions and those of my assistant,
Mr. Robert Anders (who was responsible for the crate-making, packing, etc.),
Tasmania is not a blank in the exhibition now being held, and I believe,
both in Sydney and Melbourne a sum of money was set apart for the purpose,
either by the State or Zoological Gardens, I am not sure which.
Tasmanian devils at
Beaumaris Zoo (SB). Source: Laird Files (TAHO).
I am much indebted to Colonel Cameron, Mr. E. O. Cotton, and other gentlemen,
who endeavoured to procure the Tasmanian tiger for me, and as at the present
time station hands are on the look-out for these very unique animals (like
the devil, peculiar to Tasmania), both in the Lake Country and on the North-West
Coast, I am hoping to procure one, or more to ship to London per S.S. Persic,
timed to leave Melbourne on September 9. The platypus, I am told,
has never reached England alive. Should anyone be good enough to
make me a donation, I will endeavour to get it on the right food, with
the object of sending it to the London Zoo, as its presence is very much
desired there. The two echidnas were given to me, and I read in the
official guide to the Zoo:
'The echidna is in many ways the most extraordinary animal in the gardens.
It and the duck-billed platypus are the lowest of existing mammals and
are distinguished from all other mammals by the fact that they produce
large eggs, like the eggs of reptiles, and, by anatomical characters that
make them living links between mammals and reptiles'.
Before concluding, I would like to thank all who kindly helped me in forming
the collection, and others who have given me much encouragement in past
times, and whose names are too numerous to mention individually.
I would like, however, to thank Mr. Harold Wright for presenting a devil
to my collection, and which, having three little ones in her pouch, will,
I hope, be a great attraction to visitors when the gardens are reopened
to the public in the spring. None of the handsome mountain duck wore
obtainable, either here or in the other States, when the collection left.
I have recently shipped three devils to the Melbourne Zoo".
Aerial view of "Beaumaris"
in the 1920s. The cages were to the left of this photograph.
"Beaumaris" as it appears
today. See rear
To follow is an edited
abstract from an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald on the
20th April 1910 (p. 5) complementing Mrs. Roberts's efforts in creating
a unique zoo:
"The town of Hobart
has no public zoological gardens, and the children of that city would have
little opportunity of knowing anything about the animals of their island
were it not for the enterprise of a woman, whose love of nature has induced
her to bring together a collection of birds and beasts. In her lovely
garden at Beaumaris, Mrs. Roberts has gradually collected a number of wild
creatures for some years, and now the whole represents as good a private
zoo as one could wish to find. The first thing that strikes the visitor
to the garden is the splendid condition of the animals, and the evidences
of the care bestowed upon them, for the whole of the collection is under
Mrs. Roberts' personal supervision, and, with the help of one man, she
attends to everything herself; and the directors of some of the public
gardens might well take a lesson from her humane management. As her
space is naturally somewhat limited, she has not attempted to have all
animals represented, but has given her attention chiefly to Tasmanian forms
and in this lies the great value of the collection, for there may be seen
some of the interesting creatures peculiar to Tasmania, which are rapidly
being exterminated. In one little house there is a family of Tasmanian
tigers - the only one in captivity in the world - and it certainly speaks
well for the owner that she has reared these creatures and kept them alive
and well for several years, when the big zoological gardens have failed
in the attempt.......The habits and natural surroundings of every creature
are studied; and, as far as possible, they are housed accordingly.......Tasmania
owes more to this public-spirited woman than it realises. Scientists
from other lands recognise the value of her work, and in her visitors book
appear the names of most of the notable people who have passed through
Hobart; for her gardens are open to all who care to see them, and visitors
are always welcomed and generally shown round by the owner herself.
And it is certain that most people who have seen the garden come away with
a feeling of keen pleasure, mixed perhaps with a little wonder that a woman
can accomplish so much".
The Mercury newspaper of the 14th January 1909 (p. 4), in an article entitled
Exhibition", notes one of Mrs. Roberts's rather gentile afternoon displays
of her "tigers":
"Many persons who have been awaiting an opportunity to see the Tasmanian
tigers (Thylacinus cynocephalus) may be pleased to know that they will
be on view on Saturday afternoon next. It is rarely that these animals
are captured alive, and all who take an interest in our marsupials should
not miss this chance, which may never occur again. An orchestra will
be in attendance, and several ladies interested in charitable work will
be present to assist in dispensing afternoon tea. Given fine weather,
the exhibition should be, as hitherto, a great success".