People Used To Feed Animals To Other Animals
Historic Royal Palaces
It sure looks like there's no innocent, family-friendly present-day pastime that wasn't at one point twisted by history's madness. But there must be some activity so gentle, so innocuous, so boring that the past couldn't have corrupted it. Like feeding the ducks in the park! Surely, there's no way to corrupt going to a park and feeding the animals, right? Unless you changed the animals to dangerous predators, and change what you're feeding them from breadcrumbs to other, smaller animals. Which is exactly what 17-Century Londoners used to do. Seriously, Past England, what was it with you guys and animal cruelty?
Back in the day, royal families would collect exotic animals like they were Pokemon. Not that they were left with much of a choice. For foreign dignitaries, presenting kings and queens with exotic animals from their homeland was their version of handing over a giant airport Toblerone. After a few years on the throne, most monarchs had a collection of fantastical animals that would rival any modern zoo. And on rare occasions, when the royals weren't home, these menageries were opened to the public. And when we say open, we mean open. Often, many of the creatures -- among them elephants, apes, and lions -- were allowed to roam the gardens quite freely, giving visitors the opportunity to go and play with them. Play. With lions. If that were to happen today, we don't know who should be more afraid for their lives, the people or the animals.
Daniel Hahn / Simon & Schuster
"Hey, kid, wanna try the head-in-the-mouth trick?"
Even though the menageries had occasional visiting hours, only the nobility was in a position to readily afford admission. In England, one of the most popular of these menageries was in the Tower of London, which, when it wasn't serving as a dungeon or gift shop, housed an impressive collection of big cats. Believing that the wonder of a broken-spirited animal should be enjoyed by all, the English Crown figured out an alternate form of payment. Whoever didn't have the coin for a ticket could pay in cats and dogs. In return for keeping their maintenance costs down, the Tower of London gladly admitted people who provided food for the big cats living inside, and that food most often turned out to be their very own pets. That's the dictionary definition of trading up: sacrificing your house cat for a lion.
Tower of London
"Please don't tip the attendants except in dogs and cats, please."
Eventually, the public feeding of these big cats became so commonplace that the lions would become restless during days the zoo was closed, roaring and kicking up such a ruckus until an attendant came and paid them some attention. It's safe to assume that said "attention" came in the form of a few extra poodles.
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