Author(s): John Simons
Obaysch: A Hippopotamus in Victorian London is the story of the first 'star' animal to be exhibited in the London Zoo. Captured near an island from which he took his name, Obaysch was donated to the zoo by the viceroy of Egypt, and his arrival was greeted with a wave of 'Hippomania', doubling the number of visitors to the zoo from the year before. Uncovering the circumstances of Obaysch's capture and exhibition, John Simons investigates the notion of a star animal, as well as the cultural value that Obaysch - and the other hippos who joined him over the following few years - accumulated. This book also delves into the historical context of Obaysch and his audience, considering the relationship between Victorian attitudes to hippopotami and the expansion of the British Empire into sub-Saharan Africa.