Animal artists at the Jardin des Plantes, Paris. From the magazine "L'Illustration", 7 August 1902." from Wikepedia
The Menagerie opened in 1794. It's one of the oldest zoos in the world. While the enclosures have been updated for the modern comfort of the animals, the buildings date the early 1800s... the 1920s and 30s... and have been classified as historical monuments.
There are no large animals (Elephants, Lions, Rhinos etc) at the Menagerie today. The modernized enclosures are comfortable for the current guests -- hooved stock, birds, small to medium sized mammals, reptiles, monkeys, and large cats like a panther and some lynx. (There is a modern zoological garden today in Vincennes, near Paris). http://parczoologiquedeparis.fr/en )
When you walk the cobblestone paths around the zoo... it's like being swept back in time. You can imagine the history of the exotic animals that were rounded up during the French Revolution and brought here to the safety of the Menagerie.
The Menagerie was founded by Jacques-Henri Bernadin de Saint-Pierre (1737-1814). Saint-Pierre was a explorer of the natural world of the West Indies and the island of Mauritius. These experiences contributed to the children's book "Paul et Virginie" he wrote in 1788 --- A romantic tale of a young couple who lived off the land in a tropical paradise, the story also touched on the themes of ecology, slavery and class structure. It was wildly popular in its time.
The young figures of Paul and Virginie can be seen on the base of this statue of Saint-Pierre, on the grounds at the Jardin des Plantes...
Directors of the Natural History museum... early heroes of scientific thought and learning, like Buffon, Cuvier, and Saint-Pierre ... were the pioneers of natural science. Their foresight to study, care for, and conserve the wide range of specimens that came into France helped establish Paris as the scientific heart and soul of Europe. (Map below shows the Menagerie, along with the other buildings of the natural history museums).