Rhino show put authorities on horn of a dilemma

On 17th July 1820 a menagerie that included a rhinoceros, camel and leopard arrived in Lewes.

To the great disappointment of townspeople, the local magistrates, led by Sir Geoffrey Shiffner, ruled that the animals could not be publicly displayed. That prolific diarist Dr Gideon Mantell wrote of his great dismay at the decision. The menagerie moved on to Brighton where the show was permitted.

Sir Geoffrey lived in Offham, a little village to the north of Lewes.

It is not known why he opposed the display of the animals.

I would imagine anthropomorphism in the early 19th century was a rare quality.

Maybe he had public safety in mind; the image of an escaped rhino or leopard running amok in the streets of the county town may have been too much to contemplate.