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Towards the end of the 1600s, Grand Duke Cosimo III had created in his residence of Palazzo Pitti, an area used as a small zoo, where “very rare animals conducted by the most remote regions were placed …” as in other European courts, also the family Of the doctors, he wanted to create a mènagerie (in Italian Serraglio, derives from the Latin Serraculum indicating a enclosure or closed part) practically a structure consisting of a series of cages or fences, where animals and birds were held. The construction in question was performed in 11677 in the Garden of Boboli, and precisely where there is now the Limonaia, at first, a part of the Serraglio arrived at the Palazzina della Meridiana which was used as a spice shop at the time.

Already in the past, the Florentine Republic had greenhouses or areas where he kept some exotic animals, especially the lion symbol par excellence of the city, there was the cameliopardo or the giraffe as it was called at the time, arrived with the ambassador of the Sultan of Egypt al-Ashraf Qaitbay. It was November 11, 1487 when the Giraffa arrives in Florence together with “uno lione grande,e capre e castroni, molto stranione” a big Lion, and goats and Castroni, very strange” between the disbelief of all, Lorenzo the magnificent exhibition how the Medici family can be extravagant and at the same time refined with these innovations from exotic countries. The life of the animal does not last long, in fact on January 2, 1488 the giraffe broke his neck thus ending his adventure in Florence.

Other animals were part of the small “zoo,” it is in fact a tradition that a hippopotamus was an attraction inside the Grand Ducal Serraglio, on display in the vast park of Boboli for the leisure of the members of the Florentine court, and especially of the guests of the Grand Duke. The legend has it that the hippopotamus “Pippo” was so affectionately called by people, wallowed in a large tank of the garden and when he died he was handed over to the embalmer to hand out his features. Looking today in the Museum of the Specola Poor Pippo. As for the tradition that the hippopotamus comes from a barrel tank, it seems to be confirmed by the furrow left by a chain, which is still visible on the skin of the neck, poor Pippo and poor the other animals of the Serraglio.

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