Excerpt from “The Zoo War” (2008). This chapter revised December 2011.

The Aramoho Zoo (1908-1916)
Lisa J Truttman
The Tea Garden by the river
It began with a very Victorian/Edwardian pastime – families, friends and lovers
enjoying blissful summer days strolling through immaculate gardens, listening to
music beside one of the North Island’s mightiest rivers. Around 1891, a Mrs
Haywood came to New Zealand and settled in Wanganui on account of her
husband’s ill-health. She is said to have worked on laundry until she had saved
enough money to set up a tea garden on land said to be formerly part of a farm owned
by a Mr. Murray, part of section 22 on the right bank of the Wanganui River at
Aramoho. On 29 September 1898, her Aramoho Tea Gardens was officially opened
by Mr F. M. Spurdle (in the absence of the intended officiator, the Mayor of
Wanganui.) The occasion was capped off by a concert and dance for ticket holders.1
By 1901, Mrs Haywood was able to promote a number of attractions to encourage
visitors to the Wanganui district to while away time at the three-and-a-half acres or so
which was her tea gardens, including tennis courts, a pavilion, lovers walks, summer
houses, shooting saloon, swing boats, orchard etc. A bus link direct to the gardens
must have been of great assistance to help attract the crowds.2 For a time from late
1901 to December 1902, a Mrs Joseph Brown operated the gardens, 3 but Mrs
Haywood then returned. 4 By September 1905, however, the gardens belonged to Mr.
J. Shelley who leased them to others to operate. 5 Two years later, the site was on the
market again, 6 followed by the contents of the house and tea rooms in February
By early April 1908, a retired builder from Kilburnie in Wellington, John James
Boyd, was the new proprietor of the Aramoho Tea Gardens, shipping his motor
launch (perhaps the Union) 8 up via the Stormbird to the Wanganui River. 9 Before the
end of the year, he placed advertisements in the local Wanganui Herald for the
purchase of “oppossums and other wild animals” 10 as Boyd reopened the tea garden –
and so, by the beginning of 1909, the first of Boyd’s zoos began.
The Rise of John James Boyd
John James Boyd (1850-1928), of Scots descent, came from Hull, Yorkshire. 11 He
arrived in New Zealand around 1874. By 1898, he had a sizeable portfolio of rental
properties, built by his firm, from which he had made a reasonably-sized fortune,
judging by the fact that between 1885 and 1898 he had been able to travel to England
three times. 12
“Without in any way attempting to establish a record, Mr. J J Boyd, a Wellingtonian,
who returned last week from a 4½ months trip abroad, saw probably more than most
people would do under similar circumstances. After completing the business which
took him to England, Mr Boyd went for a jaunt over the Island and neighbouring Isles
of Wight and Man, then across to Paris, where he saw the preparations being made

for the great Exposition of 1900. Back again to England, he caught the steamer for
America, dashed through the States, including California, then away to the South
Seas, and back to Wellington via Auckland. Mr. Boyd happened to be in America at
the time of the arrival of the first contingent of troops returning from Santiago, and he
described the condition of some of them as pitiable in the extreme, many being hardly
able to stand. Short as was his visit to the States, the New Zealander found time to
look about him, and in his own particular trade, that of building, he learned that the
Yankee tradesman was being rapidly forced out by cheap foreign labour, principally
expert Japanese, who are as good carpenters as they were cabinet-makers, and work
for wages that a European could not exist upon.” 13
From 1896, J J Boyd pops up from time to time in the pages of the Wellington
newspaper the Evening Post. He was one of the nominators of a Council candidate for
the Cook Ward in 1896. 14 He joined those disputing with the Council over the width
of footpaths in Adelaide Road, Newtown (where he lived at the time). 15 The
following year, he complained to the Council about a shed he had erected “to help a
poor man” being demolished by the Council due to the lack of a building permit. 16
His first known appearance before the courts (court appearances in Auckland would
become part of his legend in the following century) when he was assaulted by a Mrs.
Thacker, came that year in 1897. 17 In 1898, he was fined 1/- with 7/- cost for allowing
a horse to wander in Britomart Street. 18
In September 1899, Boyd made his first foray into municipal matters, standing as a
candidate for the Te Aro Ward. He stood on a number of platforms, amongst others:
to get the streets in better order; not to borrow loans which raise rates to build up
“white elephant” projects; he opposed the abolition of the wards and also the Council
policy for building workmen’s homes (this latter policy would have impacted on his
own income). He also opposed “too many hard-and-fast bylaws and too many
inspectors and engineers who are doing their best to kill the building trade with
unnecessary expense.” 19 He finished third in the poll. 20
In April 1900, his opinions were once again read by those receiving the Evening Post,
this time to do with the Wellington City Council’s proposal to establish a plague
hospital in Berhampore. At a protest meeting, he stood up and made his views plainly
known. “Mr J. J. Boyd said he would rather see 10,000 Boers land in the city than
have the hospital located where it is, only one acre distant from his (the speaker’s)
property. He had sixteen properties thereabouts, and his tenants were already giving
notice to leave his houses. He would like to know who first suggested the site, and
why hadn’t the hospital been taken to Karori? He would give £10 and more towards
obtaining a hospital ship. Rats and rabbits infested the hills near the hospital, and
would be a source of great danger.” 21 Boyd was part of a deputation who waited
upon the Hon. J. G. Ward, Colonial Secretary, to urge their objections to the City
Council’s plans, 22 and the issue went to the Supreme Court. 23 The Court of Appeal
found in favour of the City Council, and the hospital went ahead. 24
Boyd next took the City Council to task in 1903, via a letter to the editor, over a
proposal to lease the Town Belt for building purposes. “When will the Council realise
that the heritage of this magnificent reserve, which we owe to the wise forethought of
the old New Zealand Company that founded Wellington, is the inalienable right and

privilege of every citizen?” he thundered. “Councillors seem to regard the Town Belt
merely as a means of raising revenue.
“They cannot conceive that it is their duty to convert it into a thing of beauty – a
pleasure resort for the people which should and could be made one of the greatest
attractions of the city, which would tempt people from their homes in their hours of
leisure to enjoy the beautiful scenery and the crisp and healthful air which the belt
from many aspects commands.” 25 This battle was also lost, with leases signed later
that year.
In 1905, in opposition to the City Council’s “hard and fast bylaws”, Boyd defended
himself against court action taken against him by the Council. He had proceeded to
ignore the City Surveyor’s instructions to increase the ceiling height as required when
he submitted plans for an addition to one of his properties, choosing instead to follow
his original plans. The court found in his favour this time, as the new bylaws the City
Surveyor followed applied only to new buildings, not additions to existing ones. 26
This was Boyd’s first known victory against the municipality and its bylaws. It
may have given him inspiration to challenge his local Council further – and any others
in the country.
Business for Boyd continued to do well. He and his wife Ann Elizabeth made a sixmonth tour of England and the Continent in 1906, 27 and shortly after his return
Boyd bought up large at property sales in Kilbirnie in 1907. “Kilbirnie is Boyd up
with hopes of being a city,” mused the New Zealand Free Lance. “The great builder
of that name has bought most of the land recently offered there. He will shortly own
the earth.” 28
The Kilbirnie Tunnel led to Boyd’s last known major court case in his hometown of
Wellington in 1908, just before he took the plunge and purchased a disused pleasure
garden in northern Wanganui. The case involved Boyd who, like several Kilbirnie
landowners approached by the Hataitai Land Company, had been asked to contribute
toward the cost of the tunnel to the tune of £27 9/- 7d. When the tunnel was
completed, and the Hataitai Company came around to Boyd, he asked them where
the footpath with a rail was. They argued that the tunnel was meant for trams only,
not foot traffic, and Boyd responded by refusing to pay. Sticking to his guns, he
went through a Supreme Court hearing (which decided against him) through to the
Court of Appeal (where finally, he wn.) 29 This case illustrates Boyd’s dogged nature
when faced with a situation he felt was unfair, especially to him.
From then on, however, J J Boyd would become best known for engaging in what
the Christchurch Press would later term “his queer hobby of zoological gardens”:
“… it is his pastime”, he explained to the Press in April 1912, “and nothing more,
though now and then he finds it profitable.” 30
The Aramoho Tea Gardens and Zoo
From August 1908 at least, J J Boyd began to revive the tea gardens. Advertisements
for a truck of fence posts and a ton of “Turnips, Mangles or Pig Potatoes” were
printed in the Wanganui Herald that month. 31 The following month, Boyd travelled
with his wife and daughter to Sydney, possibly for the first consignment of animals,32

and in October advertised for “a strong lad for jobbing work” at the gardens. 33 In
November came advertisements for “One 1 hundred Gallon Tank with tap” and, more
intriguing, “Wanted To Purchase: Oppossums, and other Wild Animals.” 34
By late December, the Aramoho Tea Gardens and Zoo was up and running, with 6d
admission. 35 By early 1909, the admission had changed to charge children 3d, and
Afternoon Tea was 6d. 36 His son Edward Edwin Boyd was living at Aramoho by this
time, his 6 month old son Frederick Edwin reported as dying there. 37 Edward Boyd
was to become known as the lion tamer for both the Aramoho and Royal Oak zoos
owned by his father, although Edward’s occupation during the time he lived in
Auckland was listed as “carpenter”. 38
By March 1909, Boyd went across to Sydney again, returning with another
collection of animals for his zoo. 39 By May, his zoo was attracting approving
comment, described by one letter writer in the Wanganui Herald as “nice zoological
gardens”, 40 and he was selling “some nice pigs, all sizes” at the gardens. 41 Small
animals were one thing: Boyd would have known, via the example of Newtown Zoo,
that fierce and large animals, as well as ever-popular monkeys, would be the sure
Later that month, on 22 May 1909, Boyd and his daughter Elsie left Wellington bound
for Sydney, en route for England and the Continent, with the mission of procuring
lions for the Aramoho Zoo. 42 Once there, he sent word back in September that he had
purchased two lions from Germany. 43 By the end of November, it was reported that
Boyd was returning with two two-year-old lions, a pair of tigers, a pair of bears, a
pair of antelopes, four macaws, two vultures, and two demoiselle cranes. 44 The cages
for the animals were built by local coachbuilders Boyd and Brennan, that for the lions
described as being constructed so strongly “that the public may rest assured it will be
something extraordinary in the way of lions which can break through them. Further
provision for the safety of the public is found in the style of the doors, which lift,
instead of swinging. The weight of the cage is over a ton. Great interest has been
taken in its making by the small fry, who have paid frequent visits to the
firm’s foundry to watch the growth of the cage.” 45
The news of such an influx of wild, ferocious animals in the midst of quiet Aramoho
gave cause for one concerned citizen to ask, “Can anyone import such dangerous
wild animals into a quiet suburb like Aramoho without the permission of the local
authorities, and have these local authorities seen to proper precautions being
taken?”46 Edward Boyd, in a rare foray on the opinion pages of the newspapers,
responded that it would “be a good plan” for a cage to be built for the concerned
writer, “so that he would be quite safe when the lions and other animals arrive. If he
had any common sense he would know that we could not bring these animals into the
country without first securing permission from the Government. The plans and cages
are passed and inspected by one of their officials.” He further admonished the writer
for thinking the Boyd family would spend “some hundreds of pounds on wild animals
to let them get out.” 47
The animals arrive – and the Government steps in.

Indeed, the value of his father’s imports, which arrived in the country on 26 January
1910, was reported to be several thousand of pounds. The Evening Post reported 48
that “the nucleus of a fine menagerie” included:
Various parrots, including four macaws “talking German”, rosellas and kookaburras
Two lions, two leopards, a tiger and a puma
Two bears
Two antelopes
Two cranes
Two eagles (later reported as American Bald Eagles)
Twenty monkeys
Two foxes
Madagascar and French love birds, and “many other notable birds”.
Boyd had bought the animals primarily from the zoo operated by Carl Hagenbeck
in Germany, but there had also been purchases made in Australia, including four
parrots from Sydney Zoo. One monkey was said to have died en route between
Sydney and Wellington; an opossum just outside Sydney Heads made a break for it
and tried to swim back to Australia, only to perish in the attempt. The Auckland Star
reported that two more pumas were awaiting passage in Sydney, along with an
elephant, buffalo, cheetah and “a couple of Polar bears” which would be imported
“shortly”. J J Boyd, having made his splash in the newspapers, was also said to
have made an offer to take over the Wellington Zoo as well, to “bring
it thoroughly up-to-date”, 49 so taken was he with what he saw at Hagenbeck’s in
Whereas the Newton Zoo in Wellington had begun with a single lion cub, and had
been added to in dribs and drabs over the course of months, even years, suddenly the
New Zealand authorities had the situation of a very determined entrepreneur
importing wild animals into the country for a permanent collection on a far grander
scale than had ever been seen – and there were no laws in place to regulate such a
practice. In fact, the importing of a number of Boyd’s wild animals that January was
Under the Animals Protection Act 1908 (intended for the protection of livestock and
the country’s farming industry), Section 39 stated that no animal was to be imported
by a society, authority or person for the purposes of sport or acclimatisation without
the approval of the Minister. Section 40 went on to require ships’ masters, owners,
charterers and agents of vessels arriving in the country to “effectually prevent any
snake, scorpion, or other noxious reptile from being located in New Zealand …
whether as cargo or otherwise.” A fine of £50 could be imposed. Section 42 banned
any person from possessing or allowing at large any fox, venomous reptile, or any
hawk, vulture or any beast or bird of prey. A fine for breaching that section could be
£200, or 6 months gaol in default of payment. But, as the Minister of Internal Affairs
the Hon. David Buddo said in the House later that year, 50 “whoever has been
Minister of Internal Affairs for a number of years has been breaking the law a good
many times a year,” by allowing, and licensing, not only animals imported for
Newtown, but those animals accompanying the travelling shows still touring the
country from time to time. Buddo was a member of Sir Joseph Ward’s cabinet from
1909-1912, not only holding the portfolio of Internal Affairs, but also that of Public
Health. A biographer has described him as being a “diligent and efficient minister but

made no great impact on national politics. He was a good debater who was always
well prepared, and his advice was often sought by new members, who found him a
veritable storehouse of knowledge.” 51 He was also a stickler for the rules – and things
came to a head between Buddo and Boyd the day after the ship carrying Boyd’s
animals had arrived. Buddo refused to give permission for any of the animals to land
unless Boyd put up a £50 guarantee of the safe (and, one would say, secure) custody
of the two eagles. Boyd refused, instead offering a bond for the same amount, and to
have the eagles’ wings broken to ensure that they never flew again (and therefore, be
no threat to farm animals). Buddo refused to accept this, and ordered the birds be
returned to Australia or Germany. The Evening Post made the point that two eagles
were brought in some time before for the Newtown Zoo, living and dying in the
country without any exception taken to their presence. 52 Two days later, the impasse
seemed to be sorted, and the eagles were installed at Aramoho with broken wings, 53
and Boyd once again placed newspapers advertisements to purchase “wild animals or
birds of any kind, for the Aramoho Zoo.” 54
Buddo refused to grant permission to Boyd for the importation of the leopards,
pumas, cheetahs and foxes awaiting shipment from Ceylon and Sydney late in
February, quoting Section 42 of the Animals Protection Act. “The Australian States
are fully alive to the danger done by imported foxes, and the law of New Zealand
provides that such animals shall not be in the possession of anyone. Under these
circumstances I am of the opinion that there should be no general permit given for the
introduction of any animal that, if it accidentally escaped, would play havoc among
the sheep.” Boyd countered with his contention that Section 42 was meant to be used
with discretion, “and was never intended to apply to animals which are meant to be
shut up in strong cages in a Zoo.” He questioned why his two lions and a tiger were
allowed into the country, yet the pumas, cheetahs and leopards were now deemed to
be too dangerous to import. The Minister had also agreed to allow the polar bears to
land. “Most of the animals have been bread in captivity,” the report went on, “and
are perfectly quiet, and in any case they will be kept in cages too strong for them to
break. The cage which has been prepared for the leopards cost £200, which seems to
suggest a certain amount of strength and safety … Mr Boyd does not mean to let the
matter rest, and intends to take fresh steps to convince the Minister that no danger
will result from allowing the animals to land.” 55 Buddo countered by stating that
“the Aramoho Zoo authorities had been permitted to import larger animals, such as a
lion and a tiger, on the ground that they were entitled to the same treatment as had
been extended in connection with the Wellington Zoo.” 56
Boyd then wrote to the Evening Post, declaring he did not want Buddo to “put him on
the same level as the Newtown zoo. I want no favour but a free hand. I intend to make
the ‘zoo’ at Aramoho the finest in New Zealand if I am not prevented by the
Government.” 57 The same afternoon his letter was published, Boyd and Buddo met in
discussions. 58 Newspapers from Auckland to Lyttleton were reporting statements
made by Buddo explaining why he was refusing entry to the animals. Wanganui news
sources viewed the Minister’s refusal as “most extraordinary, and a complete
misinterpretation of the Animals Protection Act. An indignation meeting is to be held
to protest, and the Government is to be asked to reconsider its decision.”59

Meanwhile, those animals already installed at Aramoho needed to be fed. Boyd
placed advertisements in the Evening Post for a “truck load of Old Horses, in good
order, for Aramoho Zoo.” 60
Boyd continued his campaign, writing letters to Buddo, and even meeting with the
Prime Minister. “I would like,” he wrote to the Evening Post, “to make my ‘zoo’ the
finest in New Zealand, if the authorities will only allow me to bring what animals and
birds into the country that I would like.”61 By July, it appears the skirmish with the
Government had been won. A correspondent in the Evening Post suggested that
Wellington City Council should “save the city at least £1000 per annum by pulling off
a sale to our Aramoho friend, Mr Boyd, of the white elephant we are saddled with at
Newtown – the Zoo, which our council should never have undertaken,” 62 (the
Newtown Zoo began to revitalise after the establishment of a second Zoological
Society in August 1910. See the first chapter.). 63
In September, Buddo introduced into the House of Representatives the Animals
Protection Amendment Bill which, along with other provisions involving
acclimatisation and hunting, included the first specific regulation in New Zealand for
the importation of wild animals for zoological purposes. During the second reading
before the House Buddo described his amendment.
“Clause 6 is the one which may be considered the principal clause in the Bill. In
nearly all cities and towns of civilised countries provision is made for keeping wild
animals in captivity as an object-lesson to children, and adults, and visitors too. It is
one of the show places in the City of Wellington here, the Corporation of which,
assisted by private citizens, have taken a very active part in providing a good
zoological garden at Newtown. They have spent a good deal of money on these
gardens, and have entered into the whole movement whole-heartedly.
“The institution is such an attraction that many visitors who come to this city make a
point of visiting the zoological gardens. Now, rather oddly, these animals and birds
are brought in here entirely contrary to the law. But, as is sometimes pointed out, the
law has to have a little common-sense knocked into it at times, and therefore the
Minister in charge has usually provided facilities whereby zoological gardens can be
“There are only two towns in New Zealand in which any practical work in this
respect is being done – the municipal zoo in the City of Wellington, and the private
zoological gardens near the Borough of Wanganui. It was found when that was being
undertaken that while the Minister was quite willing to let in – with a permit – quite a
large number of wild animals and beasts of prey, there was an expectation that
everything, both wild animals and pests, should be let in. I want to make myself quite
clear here, and I am speaking from a farming point of view. I believe there are
animals that should not be allowed to be admitted to this country, even for the
purpose in question. There were, I think, several Australia dingoes in the zoological
gardens in Wellington. One of these animals escaped last year, and it was not
possible to recapture it and it had to be shot – in a back yard somewhere in the
suburbs of Wellington. If animals such as these get away there is no knowing to what
extent flocks might suffer …

“I am not in favour of letting everything come in; but I think it is high time we met a
position that it is necessary should be met, because there is no important town in
Europe that is not provided with zoological gardens. And it is necessary, I think, when
this Bill is before us, to provide that our towns here shall be in a position to have
zoological gardens for educational purposes and for the benefit of visitors.”64
The Bill was passed through both the House of Representatives and the legislative
Council, and Clause 6 became Section 6(i) of the Animals Protection Amendment
Act 1910: “Not withstanding anything in the principal Act, the Minister may from
time to time, on the application in writing of any person, authorize the introduction
into New Zealand of such animals as the Minister thinks fit, for the purpose of
exhibition only, whether in a zoological garden or a travelling menagerie.” The
applicant had to satisfy the Minister as to the safe custody and care of the animal(s)
sufficient for the protection of the public. Otherwise, the applicant could pay a bond
or other security to indemnify against any loss or damage.
Buddo had his regulation at last – and Boyd could now, within the bounds and
restrictions of Section 6, import the animals he wanted for his zoo. It may have been
at this point that Boyd, unable to take over the Newtown Zoo in his hometown, began
to look elsewhere for a site, including the northern city of Auckland.
The ‘Zoo’ idea catches the fancy of Aucklanders
The dispute between Boyd and the Government, not to mention the publicity around
both that and the large importation of so many exotic animals all at once into the
country, served to put the establishment of zoological gardens in New Zealand in the
spotlight of the public’s attention nationwide possibly for the first time, and especially
among Aucklanders. A letter writer to the Auckland Star in February 1910 protested
“against the project now afoot of establishing zoological gardens in the various
centres of New Zealand.” The concern was voiced as to the “life of torture entailed
upon these innocent creatures,” the “unhealthfulness of the environment, when in
captivity, of these beasts, is notorious, and, in a sub-tropical climate like ours, a
menace to the health of the community. When the plague epidemic was raging in
Sydney some few years back, the outbreak was distinctly traceable to the zoos, where
the lions’ den was found to be alive with the plague bacilli and germ-infested rats.” 65
A reply printed nine days later put the concerns down to “super-sensitiveness”, made
the point that there seemed to be no problems arising from zoos in England, the
United States or Germany, and that although young children do torment the caged
animals, “in other countries the molesting of captivated animals would be stamped
out without quarter.” 66
But, as Sidney Weetman of Remuera in Auckland pointed out a few days later, 67
large zoos of 264 acres was one thing: the smaller “zoo gardens” such as that at
Aramoho was a different situation entirely. “At most,” he wrote, “it would be 10
acres, and in this small area hundreds of wild animals would be imprisoned in cages,
and doomed to drag out a miserable and hateful existence to satisfy a gaping
multitude.” Some months before, according to him, a zoo had been suggested for
Cornwall Park. “Well, I for one most sincerely hope it will never take place, as it
would be simply desecration of such a beautiful spot, and a perfect pandemonium to

the neighbourhood for miles around.” Another correspondent approved of the idea of
an Auckland Zoo, and suggested that the Auckland Institute could take the matter in
hand. 68
That appears to be where the idea rested, with vague notions of “it’s probably a
capital idea, but who set such a thing up, and where?”
Then, in 1911, J. J. Boyd spread his business interests northward. He headed up to his
new land purchase in Royal Oak in Auckland, with his son Edward Boyd. Another
son, John James Jr., travelled up from Wellington to take their place. 69
Will be in full swing Saturday April 6th
And Every Afternoon till further notice
Bring the Children.
Just arrived -- Sixteen Wild Monkeys from Singapore and Calcutta. Come and see
their funny
Never Seen in Wanganui before.
Quoits, Swing Boats, Hot Water -- Free.
Admission: Adults 6d., Children, under 12 years 3d. Afternoon Tea 6d. All Soft
JOHN JAMES BOYD, Junr., Manager.”
(Advertisement, Wanganui Herald, 6 April 1912, p. 1)
At some point between 1912 and 1915, the Stroobant family became caretaker
managers the zoo, on lease from J J Boyd senior. Mrs Stroobant (her sister was a
daughter-in-law to J. J. Boyd senior, ran the zoo). Her son Lawrence is said to have
boxed with the zoo’s kangaroos on Sunday afternoons, while Mrs Stroobant once had
to go into a cage to get a fishhook out of a lion’s mouth when the vet refused to go in.
She presented tuatara, lizards and turtles to the Wellington Zoo, believed to have just
given animals away. 70
Any opposition to the Aramoho Zoo would have been mainly ineffective before
Aramoho amalgamated with Wanganui Borough in 1910, 71 and after this protests
were probably limited to concerns regarding sanitation until early 1914, when the
Municipal Corporations Act was amended to allow borough councils to regulate zoos
within their district. There may have been increased concerns expressed to the
Wanganui Borough Council about the zoo around this time, especially concerning
noise. It was by 1916, however, that the patience of some in the district toward the
zoo had worn out.

In March 1916, it was reported that a baboon had escaped. 72
“It appeared in a backyard and there it was when Mrs Dave Kendrick walked out, a
baboon in among some tins of rubbish, having climbed over the wall from the church
next door … a young man was having a bath in a detached washhouse … in walked
the baboon, and out rushed the young fellow. He didn’t wait to even collect a
towel.” 73
Then a brown bear had his turn at freedom:
“The animal wandered along the road towards the railway bridge. Here he was met
by two men, homeward bound, and discussing the war. They possibly remembered
the saying that ‘Two is company, and three is a crowd,’ and as far as they were
concerned, the bear soon had the road to himself. The news that the bear was out
quickly spread, and for a time a state of mild siege reigned in the locality, despite a
statement that the wanderer had a most benevolent disposition. Eventually the bear
was induced to return to his home in the zoo.” 74
There is some confusion as to what kind of bear escaped, or what the fate of the bear
was. While the cheerfully amusing story above was told on Monday 27 March about
the escape the night before, by Thursday that week it had taken a different turn:
“We are informed that the carcase of the bear which escaped from the Aramoho Zoo,
and which provided scope for big-game hunting on Sunday evening last, was allowed
to lie until yesterday where it fell, beside the river bank. It is a pity that someone was
not interested enough to arrange to take over the carcase for Museum purposes.” 75
The Wanganui Museum curator apparently did read the paper; the carcase was picked
up the next day. In another incident however, on 30 March, a Malay bear at the zoo
was said to have been deliberately poisoned. 76
The Stroobant family recalled that it had been a Malay Bear that had escaped. “He
was a very vicious animal and at one time mauled Mr. Stroobant, ripping his forearm
from the elbow to his hand.” 77
An executive meeting of the Aramoho Burgesses and Beautifying Society on 28
March referred to just two escapes from the zoo. “A motion was passed drawing the
attention of the Borough Council to the fact that on two occasions wild animals had
escaped from custody at the Zoo. This was considered a menace to the public safety,
and it was deemed expedient than an inspection by the proper authorities should be
made as to whether proper and adequate conditions exist both as regards caging and
sanitation.” 78
A civil case was heard against the last lessee of the zoo, possibly in relation to debts
incurred, in May 1916. The lessee at that time paid Boyd 30s rent per week, while the
zoo takings were only 25s per week. 79 In June, the local Borough Council took action
after the appeal from the Aramoho Society, and requested that the proprietor of the
zoo close it down and remove the animals. 80 Two camels were heading down to
Wellington by early July, 81and the rest headed for Onehunga later that month, but not
without incident. At the Onehunga railway station, a cage with a pair of African lions

from Wanganui caused a bit of a sensation as it was being loaded onto a horse-drawn
“The cage, on rollers, had been placed successfully on the lorry, when one of the
animals caught sight of the horses, and emitted a characteristic growl. Before the
onlookers had realised what had happened the affrighted animals had started on a
mad career with the cage rocking to and fro on the lorry. The lions had only enjoyed
about 50 yards of their impromptu ‘joy ride’ when the cage rolled off, and after a
series of somersaults down an incline ultimately came to a standstill. The case was
stoutly built and protected by chains, there thus being little possibility of the animals
escaping. Considerable difficulty was experienced in getting the cage back to the
conveyance, but it was ultimately replaced and its occupants were transferred to
their new abode, little the worse for their exciting escapade.” 82
After the zoo had more or less left Aramoho, things were much quieter in the district.
Mrs Olive Myrthe Smith appears to describe the zoo from this latter period:
“When we went to see [the zoo] there was a Baboon in one cage. All the other cages
were empty but the animal smell was still there. It was 3½ acres of land with a lot of
cages, swing boats, seesaw swings, it had a 2-storey Billiard rooms and a lovely tea
rooms with a fast dancing floor round-shaped. The grounds had gas lighting all
around; in the early days they held sports at night … our zoo put Auckland’s zoo in
the shade. It was run by the same family -- The Boyds … Dad got a telegram one day
from Sir Ernest Shackleton asking if we would take Kasin a snow dog and Dad said
yes. I think he thought it was still a zoo.” 83
J J Boyd first subdivided the old Aramoho Tea Gardens and Zoo site in 1923, but his
scheme to have just one cul-de-sac (Boyd Avenue) met with opposition from the
Borough Council. 84 In the end, compromises were reached, and the final subdivision
was lodged in 1924. 85
Little remains of the Aramoho Zoo. As at 1986, one of the kiosks was used as a
garden shed at 1 Boyd Avenue, while it was reported that the tea house was shifted to
Castlecliff when it became the tea kiosk, joined there by the zoo’s band rotunda. 86
All that is left of New Zealand’s first private zoo are memories.
Additional information on the Aramoho Zoo
The following is from the Wanganui Chronicle:
7 January 1911
The lion cub born recently at the Aramoho Zoo; but which died a few days later, has
been placed in the museum. It has been well mounted by Mr. H. W. Hesse, Curator.
18 January 1911
[Borough Council]
ARAMOHO ZOO.-From Mr J J Boyd, proprietor of the Aramoho Zoo, suggesting
that the Council should form a footpath to the Zoo. or from the trams to the gate. He
also thought the Council should arrange for the Harrison Band to play at the Zoo on
occasions. Mr Boyd pointed out that he had established the zoo at great cost and had

thereby made the trams profitable. As he had received the offer of a good opening in
Auckland, he thought it would pay the Council to give him some encouragement to
stay Wanganui—The Mayor thought the Council should do all it could to encourage
Mr Boyd, and he moved that the Garrison Band and City Band be asked to give two
concerts each before the winter. It was also decided to inform Mr Boyd that the
footpath would be formed so soon as a standard survey was made.
20 January 1911
Admission: Adults 1s; Children over 12, 6d,
Under twelve, 3d.
11 February 1911
Mr J J Boyd, the popular proprietor of the Aramoho Zoo, is never happier than when
he is getting something new or making additions to his collection of animals, etc.
Both from an educative and pleasurable point of view, the Aramoho Zoo is worth a
visit. The leopards and the puma are very fine specimens, and the lions and bears have
grown considerably since their arrival; recent additions are monkeys from the Cape,
and Lemier's monkeys [lemurs] from Madagascar, all splendid specimens. Besides
seeing the animals and birds, all kinds of amusements may be indulged in such as
croquet, billiards, quoits, swing-boating—all free. The children are also catered for,
Mr Boyd having recently erected a child's swingboat, which holds six small children
and is perfectly safe. The tea kiosk is well arranged and afternoon tea is always
obtainable, Sundays included. The number of stuffed birds, butterflies, curios, etc.,
from all parts of the world, which are ranged around the walls, are well worth a visit
of inspection. Either the Glasgow or Dublin Street cars will take you to the Aramoho
terminus, and then it is only two minutes' walk.
29 March 1911
THE ZOO.—From Mr J J Boyd, stating .that as he intends to establish a Zoo at
Auckland, he would sell the Aramoho Zoo to the Borough Council for £10,000. He
wished an early reply for, in the event of the Council not buying the Zoo, he would
remove it to Auckland.—lt was decided to inform Mr Boyd that the Council had no
intention of purchasing the zoo.
10 May 1911
The Aramoho Zoo is not to be removed, as Mr. J. J. Boyd's son is coming to
Wanganui to take charge of it while Mr. Boyd Snr. attends to the Onehunga Zoo.
Local residents will be glad to hear that the Zoo is to be continued.

23 May 1911
Mr and Mrs J J Boyd, jun., and three sons have arrived from Wellington to take
charge of the Aramoho Zoo … Mr and Mrs J J Boyd, Sen., and Miss Boyd left by the

Main Trunk train on Monday for Auckland. Mr. Boyd is to superintend the erection of
the buildings for the Onehunga Zoo.
10 June 1911
The other provincial towns of New Zealand must awake and be brisk, or Wanganui
will assuredly leave them in the race. In Wanganui is good provision of the things
lively and of interest: good company, good climate, good cheer, good amusement.
There is even a zoo, and the zoo at Aramoho is not to be despised. There are macaws
there that took me immediately into their confidence, and who occupy honourable
rank among the pleasantest chaps I met in the little city by the big river.
2 August 1911
[Report from Wanganui Museum.]
The additions are two fallow deer from Makirikiri, and a wallaby from the Aramoho
Zoo. The latest addition is a ring-tailed lemur (lemur catta) which died at Mr Boyd's
Zoo and which has been placed amongst the Primates.
22 November 1911
[Borough Council meeting report]
Zoo. —Messrs Longmore and Co., in whose hands Mr. J. J. Boyd has put the
Aramoho Zoo for sale, wrote offering it to the Council for £5,000. Failing a sale the
animals are to be removed and the land cut up.—Referred to the Finance Committee.
22 December 1911
It is always a problem with heads of families and others as to what to do on a holiday.
Just now many of our readers are concerned, as to where and how they should spend
Boxing Day. With parents it is a question of where are they to take the children so as
to derive the greatest enjoyment at the minimum of expense. This year, however, a
solution will be easily found. Judging from what Mr. J J Boyd announces is to take
place at the Zoo on Tuesday, there should be only one rendezvous for young and old
that day —the Aramoho Zoo. If it were only for the sake of seeing the birds and
animals, the Zoo would be a desirable place to take the children. One never gets tired
of watching the inhabitants of the cages; for there is always something novel and
interesting about them. They are an education in themselves. But for Boxing Day
however, besides there being a ridiculously low price for admission, a great
programme for the amusement of the young folks has been prepared. As set out in
another column, there will be clowns, Punch and Judy and other mirth makers, while
there will be innumerable prizes for the children, and all manner of races, scrambles,
bran tubs, etc. There is also a baby show, and a beauty show, which should attract a
large of entries. Hot water will be supplied free.
20 March 1912
The two Teddy Bears from the Zoo are funny, especially on a fine day like Thursday
will be. Look out for them on the trapeze. Please take some peanuts for them.

22 October 1912
The cosmopolitan family at the Onehunga Zoo seems to be thriving (says the
Auckland "Star"). Mr. Boyd has imported a very fine baboon from Africa. Three cub
lions were born on Tuesday week, and are doing well. The two Malay bears, the
young Nepaul [sic] tiger, and the Victoria crowned pigeons, which were imported
from India a few weeks back, are also in good condition. Two schools from the
country and one from the city visited the Zoo during the week, and the children were
much interested in the new arrivals.
(This included here because the “Nepaul tiger” was mentioned later, at Aramoho
16 November 1912
TO Let Aramoho garden and Zoo. Rent low. Apply T J Boyd, Foster's Hotel.
22 July 1913
[Wanganui East Boy Scouts fundraising]
Mrs. V. Stroobant, of Aramoho Tea Gardens and Zoo, offered to organise an
entertainment and dance in aid of the funds. This offer was cordially accepted.
13 December 1913
Barton Bros. Circus proprietors, will arrive at Aramoho Tuesday, Dec. 16th. Location
at the Zoo.
5 February 1914
The carcase of the lion which died at the Aramoho Zoo a few days ago has been
treated by Mr. W H Hesse, curator of the Wanganui Museum. The animal was only
about 18 months old when it died. It had a fine head, a magnificent set of teeth, and a
beautiful coat. When ready for exhibition, the body of the lion will make a splendid
acquisition to the Museum.
16 February 1914
ARRIVED and now on view, two beautiful lions, also other large animals, birds,
monkeys, donkeys, tigers, bears, all alive. Aramoho Zoo
17 February 1914
[Report on preparations for Wanganui Carnival]
Aramoho Zoo. —Mr Robinson reported having interviewed the proprietress of the
Aramoho Zoo, and that that lady had said the committee was welcome to the loan of
anything in the Zoo. —It was decided to thank the proprietress for her kind offer.
26 February 1914
In a tent in the Avenue a remarkable freak of nature is being exhibited. It is a fourmonths' old calf with six and a-half feet. It is alive and well, and has come direct from
the Aramoho Zoo. Much interest is being shown in the freak.
26 May 1914
WANTED— Old horses for the Aramoho Zoo.

1 June 1914
ON view, and all Alive —Lions, Tigers, Bears, Kangaroos, Lizards, Swans, Tortoises,
Baboons, Monkeys. Peacocks, Jackasses. Donkeys, Oppossums. Variety of Birds.
Aramoho Zoo.
28 August 1914
An unusual operation was performed at the Aramoho Zoo on Wednesday, when a
fish-hook was extracted from the jaws of a lion. The fish hook had evidently found its
way into the animal's mouth in a piece of meat. The lion was lassoed and tied down
,and then chloroformed. Professor Cowardine then entered the cage, and in a few
minutes cut the hook out of the lion's jaw.
9 September 1914
[Wanganui Council] Building Inspector (Mr. T. M. Copeland) in his report to the
Council for the month of August:—… He also inspected the Aramoho Zoo and found
everything very satisfactory.
3 October 1914
The old Aramoho grounds are now wearing their best spring raiment, and are being
visited by crowds. The public are perhaps not aware that there’s a good number of
animals and birds at the zoo – lions, tigers, bears, kangaroos, monkeys etc. The
Nepaul [sic] tiger is the only one of its kind in Australasia, and is a very fine
specimen. Afternoon tea may always be procured on the grounds. Free swing boats
are provided for the children, and altogether a most enjoyable and instructive time
may be spent. The admission is only 6d and 3d, and trams run to within two hundred
yards of the gate.
19 February 1915
A case of shocking cruelty to an animal was reported to us yesterday. It seems that a
number of cattle were unloaded from a truck at the Aramoho railway yards on
Wednesday. One beast was in a bad state, having been trampled on by others, and for
24 hours lay on the ground. Then came the crowning act, a carter yesterday afternoon
putting a rope round the animal's carcase, and dragging it (still alive), along the
roadway for some distance, when it was killed and the meat taken to the Aramoho
Zoo. It is to be hoped the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will take
action in the matter.
20 February 1915
(To the Editor.)
Sir,—l see in this morning's paper a case of fearful cruelty to an animal from the
railway yards at Aramoho, and you distinctly say the meat was taken to the Aramoho
Zoo. Please allow me to stoutly deny this, as not one grain of those animals was
brought to our place. Hoping you will contradict the statement, as you have been most
wrongly informed. —Yours, etc., (Mrs.) V. STROOBANT. Aramoho Zoo.

26 June 1915
WANTED Known.—Aramoho Zoo, new management. New animals just arrived.
Now on view.
2 March 1916
WANTED Known.—The Aramoho Zoo to let, as a going concern; low rental to good
tenant. Apply C H Burnett, Ridgway Street.
3 March 1916
Some excitement, and incidentally a little alarm, was occasioned at Aramoho on
Wednesday by the escape from the Zoo of an old-man monkey. The animal, as it
subsequently transpired, was tame enough, but its size and appearance were such as to
suggest unpleasant possibilities, especially to any children who might arouse its
wrath. There was, too, the danger of injury by shock in the event of any woman or
child meeting the big and ugly brute unexpectedly. Consequently the chase for the
vagrant was a serious business, and he was ultimately located among the upper
branches of a tree, wherein he had stopped for a rest after his exciting scamper
through gardens and over roofs. To the relief of the onlookers the big fellow
submitted quietly to being roped by his keeper, by whom he was led back to captivity.
27 March 1916
Aramoho appears to be quite an exciting place to reside in. Recently a baboon
escaped from the Zoo, and his example was followed last night by a brown bear. The
animal wandered along the road towards the railway bridge. Here he was met by two
men, homeward bound, and discussing the war. They possibly remembered the saying
that "Two is company, and three is a crowd," and as far as they were concerned the
bear soon had the road to himself. The news that the bear was out quickly spread, and
for a time a state of mild siege reigned in the locality, despite a statement that the
wanderer had a most benevolent disposition. Eventually the bear was induced to
return to his home at the Zoo.
30 March 1916
We are informed that the carcase of the bear which escaped from the Aramoho Zoo,
and which provided scope for big-game hunting on Sunday evening last, was allowed
to lie until yesterday where it fell, beside the river bank. It is a pity that someone was
not interested enough to arrange to take over the carcase for Museum purposes.
31 March 1916
A Malay bear at the Aramoho Zoo was deliberately poisoned yesterday … On hearing
that the bear which escaped from the Aramoho Zoo on Sunday night had been shot,
the hon. Curator of the Museum lost no time in securing the carcase. The carcase of
the bear has been skinned, and will in due course be stuffed and placed among the
many interesting exhibits at the Museum.
5 April 1916
At the meeting of the Borough Council last night a letter was received from the
Aramoho Beautifying Society referring to the recent escape of wild animals from the

Aramoho Zoo, and urging the Council to take the necessary steps to have the
menagerie removed.
A petition signed by about two hundred Aramoho residents also urged action, and
complained of alleged smells and the roaring of some of the animals, particularly
during church hours. The Minister for Internal Affairs, who has been approached on
the matter, wrote stating that the Council had power, under the Municipal
Corporations Act of 1908, to make a by-law to deal with the matter. He also reminded
them of a letter the Council wrote in 1910 urging that permission be granted for the
establishment of the Zoo on the grounds that "it would be a great benefit to the town
and district.''
The Mayor referred to the fact that the Onehunga Borough Council had passed a bylaw to do away with the Onehunga Zoo, and the Supreme Court had upheld their
action. The matter was now however, before the Appeal Court. The passing of a bylaw would take time, and more animals might escape.
Referring to the complaints of noise, the Mayor thought that the residents themselves
would have to take action in the civil court. There had been a complaint on a former
occasion in regard to the bellowing of stock in the accommodation paddocks.
However, the Council could move if public health or safety was concerned.
On the motion of the Mayor it was "decided to draw the attention of the police and the
public health inspector to the alleged state of affairs at the Zoo, and to warn the
proprietor that the Council would hold him responsible for any damage or danger that
might occur.
5 May 1916
Re Aramoho Zoo— The Borough should purchase this property. The Zoo grounds
offer a splendid opportunity for the Borough to acquire an open space and recreation
ground for Aramoho. The grounds are nicely laid out and well planted with old and
suitable trees, and contain a caretaker's house and such buildings as are required for a
"Tea-house" and bandstand. The Zoo itself could be abandoned, if thought desirable.
The present condition of affairs in this Zoo should not be allowed to continue. Have
the Borough had any inspection made of the condition of the cages containing the
animals? If so, when was the last inspection made previous to the animals escaping
some few weeks ago? The escape of an adult chimpanzee and a medium-sized bear
immediately alongside a public school ground may not be regarded by the Council as
being a very serious matter, but when the three lions take a stroll round Aramoho one
of these dark winter evenings, perhaps the residents may have something further, to
say to those responsible in this matter.
23 May 1916
The defendant in a civil case heard at the Magistrate's Court yesterday said he was the
lessee of the Aramoho Zoo. Under examination he said he paid 30s a week for the
zoo, and the takings were about 25s weekly. He said he had also to provide the food
for the animals, mentioning three horses and a cow in that respect. The defendant's
evidence was suggestive of a speculation, as he expressed the opinion that in summer
time the receipts might be considerably increased.

14 June 1916
Last night the Borough Council received a report from the engineer (Mr Staveley) on
the Aramoho "Zoo". In consequence of the report it was decided to request the
Proprietor to close the Zoo, and to remove the animals.
28 June 1916
In the appeal case, Boyd v. the Onehunga Borough Council, dealing with the right of
the former to keep wild animals in the borough, the Appeal Count at Wellington
unanimously held that clause 2 of the by-law was too wide and was therefore ultra
vires and invalid, being couched in much wider language than the reason for passing
the by-law expressed in the recital. Costs were allowed to the appellant in the
Supreme Court and also in the Court of Appeal as on the highest scale and as from a
distance. Further, a declaration was made that Clause 2 of the by-law was invalid. The
decision is of interest to the Wanganui Borough Council, who have recently been
discussing the removal of the Aramoho Zoo.
19 June 1919
FOR SALE. —Aramoho Tea Gardens. Terms or cash. Apply J J Boyd, onr., Royal
Oak Zoo, Onehunga.

Wanganui Herald, 21 & 30 September 1898; George Frederic Allen’s Reminiscences,
www.geocities.com/hanson_allen/docs/kilwingfa.htm. There was an earlier opening in 1896, but
possibly Mrs Haywood closed the gardens in the intervening period for renovations.
Advertisement, Wanganui Herald, 19 June 1901.
Wanganui Herald, 21 December 1901, p. 3
Wanganui Herald, 17 September 1903
Advertisement, Wanganui Herald, 29 September 1905
Advertisement, Wanganui Herald, 23 November 1907
Advertisement, Wanganui Herald, 28 February 1908
J J Boyd was apparently fond of boating. He applied along with 16 others for a wharf at Kilburnie in
Wellington in 1905, and his steam launch Union competed in the Port Nicholson Anniversary
Regatta in 1906
Wanganui Herald, 11 April 1908
Advertisement, Wanganui Herald, 3 November 1908
Obituary, NZ Herald, 18 January 1928
Evening Post, 3 October 1898
Report, Evening Post, 3 October 1898
Evening Post, 1 September 1896, p. 5
Evening Post, 3 March 1898, p. 4
Evening Post, 30 July 1897
Evening Post, 22 October 1897
Evening Post, 8 November 1898
Evening Post, 7 September 1899, p. 6
Evening Post, 15 September 1899
Evening Post, 21 April 1900, p.5
Evening Post, 26 April 1900, p. 6
Letter from J J Boyd, Evening Post, 10 May 1900
Evening Post, 28 May 1900
Letter to the editor, Evening Post, 21 September 1903
Evening Post, 26 January 1905 & 3 February 1905
Evening Post, 23 April & 23 November 1906
NZ Free Lance, 30 March 1907, p. 22
Evening Post 24 February, 25 February, 21 March, 8 October, 19 October 1908
Christchurch Press article, dated 15 April 1912, p. 3, from Tim Baker’s Professor Bickerton’s
Wainoni, 2004, p. 35


Wanganui Herald, 17 August 1908
Wanganui Herald, 29 September 1908
Wanganui Herald, 5 October 1908
Wanganui Herald, 3 November 1908
Advertisement, Wanganui Herald, 29 December 1908
Advertisement, Wanganui Herald, 10 February 1908
Wanganui Herald, 25 May 1909, p. 4
Electoral rolls for Manukau, 1911-1928
Wanganui Herald, 20 March 1909, p. 7
Letter from “Patience”, Wanganui Herald, 6 May 1909, p. 6
Wanganui Herald, 15 May 1909, p. 1 (7)
Wanganui Herald, 22 May 1909, p. 7
Evening Post, 22 September 1909, p. 4
Wanganui Herald, 23 November 1909, p. 4
Wanganui Herald, 5 November 1909
Letter from “Pubic Safety”, Wanganui Herald, 27 November 1909, p. 2
Wanganui Herald, 6 December 1909, p. 3
Evening Post, 26 January 1910, p. 8
Auckland Star, 27 January 1910
NZ Parliamentary Debates, Vol. 151, 1 September 1910 Session, pp. 215-252
Geoffrey W Rice, “Buddo, David 1853-1937”, Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, updated 1
September 2010, www.teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/3b56
Evening Post, 27 January 1910, p. 8
Hawera & Normanby Star, 29 January 1910, p. 5
Evening Post, 2 February 1910, p. 1
Evening Post, 28 February 1919, p. 8; Hawera & Normanby Star, 28 February 1910
Weekly News, 10 March 1910
Evening Post, 2 March 1910
Evening Post, 3 March 1910, p. 6
Weekly News, 10 March 1910
Evening Post, 1 April 1910, p. 1
Evening Post, 28 April 1910
Letter from “Ratepayer”, Evening Post, 18 July 1910, p. 3
Evening Post, 26 August 1910, p. 3
NZ Parliamentary Debates, Vol. 151, 1 September 1910 Session, pp. 252-253
“Lover of Dumb Animals” Auckland Star, 19 February 1910
T P Gilfedder, CMZS, Auckland Star, 28 February 1910
Auckland Star, 2 March 1910
Auckland Star, 4 March 1910
Wanganui Chronicle, 23 May 1911, p. 4
Handwritten notes, “Information from H Stroobant, January 1983”, from the collection of the
Whanganui Regional Museum
M. J. G. Smart and A. P. Bates, The Wanganui Story, 1972, p. 289
Wanganui Chronicle, 27 March 1916, p. 4
Memories of Mrs. D. Breton neé Kendrick, published in article by D. G. Strachan, Wanganui
Chronicle, 20 April 1963, p. 8
Wanganui Chronicle, 27 March 1916, p. 4
Wanganui Chronicle, 30 March 1916, p. 4
Wanganui Chronicle, 31 March 1916, p. 4
Letter from H. Stroobant, 11 February 1984, from the collection of the Whanganui Regional
Wanganui Chronicle, 23 May 1916, p. 4
Wanganui Chronicle, 14 June 1916, p. 4
Wanganui Chronicle, 3 July 1916, p. 4
Wanganui Chronicle, 24 July 1917, p. 4
“Good Old Days”, Mrs. Olive Smith, 12 January 1985, from the collection of the Whanganui
Regional Museum
Papers in file ref. 71:1923/441 AAF, Wanganui District Council Archives


DP 7049, LINZ records
Wanganui Chronicle, 10 April 1986, p. 6