“Downs’ Zoological Gardens” was perhaps the most favored attraction in the young city of Halifax, welcoming everyone from local day trippers to distinguished guests. According to written accounts from the day, the site was a destination point for tourists, and many famous visitors frequented the zoo; however, the only names of such guests I have encountered are: Lord and Lady Falkland, The Italian King Victor Emmanuel’s daughter, and the Prince of Wales (during his visit to the colony in 1860).
Regardless of celebrity visits, the grounds’ popularity was not to be contested, as is evident in the regular newspaper clippings of the era announcing new acquisitions, expansions, and Downs’ trade of wildlife between institutions abroad.
The Prince of Wales’ visit was a particular point of pride for Downs, evidenced by the treatment of a particular piece of memorabilia… During the royal event, the young prince dropped his white leather glove, and nobody noticed until he had left. Downs found the garment and kept it as a souvenir of the Royal’s visit; he displayed it prominently in the Glass House. Upon Downs’ death, the white glove was bequeathed to his granddaughter, who later donated it to the Nova Scotia Archives. The glove was then placed in the possession of the Nova Scotia Museum, where it is still in safe keeping.