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Lion and Bear

Nelson - The Cape Lion from South Africa

Nelson is a magnificent specimen of the Cape Lion from South Africa. The Cape Lion, panthera leo melanochaita, was the largest species of lion, greyish-yellow in colour with a dark mane. Cape Lions were exterminated by European settlers who colonised South Africa and are now extinct.

Nelson was brought to England on 28th October 1859, together with a second lion. He was looked after by London Zoo, where he lived until his death in 1872. It is claimed that he lived to be twenty-five years old. If this is true then he was much older than most zoo lions.

After his death, Nelson was stuffed and mounted by the famous London taxidermy firm of Rowland Ward. He was acquired by B.J. Whitaker of Hesley Hall, near Tickhill, and formed the centrepiece of his private museum.

Nelson was loaned to Rotherham Museum in 1946 and put on display in the Museum's entrance hall, and stayed there until his special "Lion's Den" was built in 1998. In 1973 he was given to the Museum, by Sir James Whitaker.

Marco - The European Brown Bear

The Brown Bear was once found throughout most of Europe but has been exterminated in most areas because of the danger it posed to man and his livestock. It is now restricted to parts of the Alps and Pyrenees, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.

During the Roman occupation of Britain our Brown Bears were exported to Rome to appear in circuses, but had all been wiped out by the 10th Century. Bears were later imported from the Continent for the “sport” of bear-baiting, in which a tethered bear was set upon by dogs. Dancing bears were also used as entertainment at fairs and in the street.

Marco was modelled by Graham Teasdale of Barbot Hall, Greasbrough, around 1976. Marco was originally mounted for Warwickshire County Council; the chained bear and ragged staff is their county emblem. However, Marco was not accepted by them and came to Clifton Park Museum instead. From 1977 to about 1995, Marco was part of the school loans service. He travelled to many schools in the Rotherham Borough, becoming a well-remembered favourite of the children. Many of these are now parents who bring their own children to see him at the Museum.

Marco the bear

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