Whether its four legged or feathered, Cambridge has an abundance of connections with animals of all types, we checked out some of the stories associated with our venues and the city. Here’s our top 6…
Emmanuel College is the only Cambridge College with its own fish-pond which is also home to many families of ducks. They can often be seen patiently waiting outside the dining hall windows at lunchtime for their scraps. The ducks also enjoy the privilege of being able to walk on the Front Lawn, something that ordinarily, only Fellows are allowed to do. Despite rumors, they are never on the menu though!
At Corpus Christi College, a mother duck lays her eggs at the main site each year. Since the College is not on the riverbank, when the ducklings are old enough the ducklings are escorted to the River Cam by their mother. This often involves the assistance of the College Porters who must stop traffic so that the youngsters can make it safely through St Catharine’s College, which sits opposite, and from there to the safety of the water.
The green common areas in the centre of Cambridge have been home to grazing cattle since the 12th century; visitors will often do a double take as a cow strolls on by and those looking at the iconic view of King’s College Chapel from The Backs will often see a heard of Red Poll cattle grazing in the meadow.
The city herds belong to local farmers who pay to allow the cattle to feed on the open land and each year between April and October, bovines and townies live in perfect harmony, apart from having to sidestep the occasionally cow pat!
Thankfully the only bears in Cambridge now are made of stone! They sit either side of the staircase guarding the steps to the University’s Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, one of the world’s oldest geological museums, you can read more about their significance here.
The poet, Lord Byron is said to have bought a bear to live with him whilst he studied at Trinity College, it is reported that he walked the pet bear across the College grounds in the 1800s in protest to the fact that the College had disallowed dogs – the statutes said nothing about a bear though and the rule makers were forced to back down!
A 21 metre Fin Whale is one of Cambridge’s most famous residents. Its skeleton resides in a specially built hall at the University’s Museum of Zoology and when it was alive it would have weighed the same as eight double decker busses!
The museum has owned the whale since 1866 and today the Whale Hall, as it is known, is available for private hire for drinks receptions – it certainly provides a great talking point!
Cats (and occasionally an incognito dog!)
You’re never far away from one of our feline friends…Finch and Baines have chosen Christ’s College for a home, and they can often be seen padding around First and Second Court. Silly the Cat has its territory at Trinity Hall and at Gonville & Caius, Mavis has made herself quite comfortable. King’s College is the grounds for Odysseus – is he as cunning as his namesake we wonder! Most Colleges have rules against dogs and sometimes any kind of animal on site, which has led to some funny tales of rule bending over the years (see Bears!); at Selwyn College, guests and student will often find themselves in the company of one very large cat…a Basset Hound shaped one to be precise. Yoyo is a rescue dog owned by the Master, Roger Mosey but due to a rule that forbids animals, except in the case of the Master, who can have a cat – Yoyo is often referred to as such!
Yales, Unicorns and Chronophages
Ok so maybe we’re stretching it a little here, but as you stroll through our streets you won’t have to go far to spot one of Cambridge’s fabulous mythical beasts adorning a College gate, jumping out of a wall or even crawling around a famous clock!
Take a walk around Cambridge and you’ll spot many more, from lions to dolphins; crocodiles to dragons – a magnificent menagerie!
We like this guide to Cambridge’s animals – how many can you spot?