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World Wildlife Gallery

The collections in the World Wildlife Gallery came from Edgar and Major Cooper. Both were military officers who hunted whilst stationed abroad on active service. The annexe where this gallery is situated was provided by Colonel Harrison and houses a large collection of his hunting trophies, donated in 1938.

Highlighting conservation issues this gallery offers an exciting introduction to a variety of animals, birds and insects and their natural environments around the World.

The gallery houses a display on evolution and ecology, exploring each continent in turn. Animal heads, collected by Col. Harrison, are mounted on the walls of the gallery. These include antelope, bison, gazelles, pumas, and a tiger.

The African section includes animals such as a lion, aardvark, springbok and a great flamingo that was donated in 1860, making it one of the oldest specimens in our natural history collection.

The Arctic section includes a musk ox, snowy owls and our best known exhibit – the polar bear.  It’s a fully grown adult bear which came to the museum in 1947, from Lowther Castle, where it had been part of the Earl of Lonsdale’s collection.

The South American case contains mainly rainforest animals, including a three-toed sloth and an armadillo. There are also several exotic birds including toucans and a quetzal.

Most of the animals in the Australian section are marsupials, such as the red kangaroo. Also on display is a spiny anteater and a duckbilled platypus. Perhaps the most important animal in the gallery is displayed in this section – the Tasmanian wolf, also known as a thylacine. This is a very rare specimen, as there are fewer than 12 in the country. It is thought that the Tasmanian wolf is extinct as there have been no confirmed sightings for about 60 years.

Asia is the largest of the continents and the specimens here reflect the vast differences in the habitats available, from the orang-utan of the rainforests to the peacock of the lowlands.

Europe is the last continent shown in the Gallery. On display is a great bustard, which became extinct in England in the early 19th century (but has since been successfully re-introduced into Wiltshire in the last couple of years). Other animals on display in this section include the otter, badger, waxwing and spoonbill.

For children:

  • Meet our famous polar bear
  • Polar Post at Christmas time
  • Torch light tours of the gallery
  • Birthday parties!
  • Museum trail / activity packs