Townsville's Mount St John Zoo

Styan, Anthony (2015) Townsville's Mount St John Zoo. Queensland Historical Atlas. pp. 1-3.

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[Extract] The Mount St John Zoo was a popular attraction in the Townsville region in the 1930s-40s, widely acclaimed as the largest privately-owned zoological garden in Australia. It began by accident, as an informal bird sanctuary centred on a naturally-occurring lagoon on a cattle property just north of Townsville. Interested in the flocks of birds that congregated on his lagoon, St John Robinson built a small dam to enlarge the water area, and by 1925 his lagoons and its adjoining swamps were listed as a sanctuary by national conservation groups. Robinson was an occasional crocodile shooter and began to capture live animals while working as a publican and canefarmer in Halifax. He transported crocodiles from the Halifax hotel, a little over 100 km away, to the lagoon at Mount St John in the late 1920s. In 1932 Robinson and his sons successfully applied to the Townsville City Council to register the area as a zoo. In the 1930s the zoo expanded rapidly both by trapping local animals, especially crocodiles from the nearby Bohle River, and through trading with larger zoos in the southern cities. By the 1950s it was in decline and in 1955 it was purchased by the Wirth Family Circus and operated as winter quarters for their touring menagerie, finally closing in 1969.

Item ID: 37785
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1838-708X
Keywords: Townsville; zoo; crocodile; St John Robinson; natural history; exotic animal trade; environmental history; tourism
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2015 01:34
FoR Codes: 21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2103 Historical Studies > 210303 Australian History (excl Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology @ 100%
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