With the exotic peacocks, King Frederick William II formed the basis for the menagerie, which his son Frederick William III further expanded in the following years. There was a monkey house, a bear pit, enclosures for lions, kangaroos, lamas, marmots, reindeer, wolves as well as aviaries for birds such as owls, eagles, falcons, parrots or ostriches. More than 800 animals once lived on the island.
But the heir to the throne, Frederick William IV, did not share his father’s passion for exotic animals. In 1842, he donated most of the animals as well as buildings and facilities to the newly founded Zoological Society of Berlin. This laid the foundation for the Berlin Zoological Garden, which opened its doors in 1844 as Germany’s first zoo. The peacocks alone remained on the island as an exotic reminder.