On April 1, 1866 several hundred people showed up at the gates of the London Zoological Society demanding entrance. Unfortunately, the Society was closed that day, it being Easter Sunday, and the guard refused to admit them. However, the members of the crowd insistently showed the guard their tickets and again demanded entrance. The tickets, had cost them one penny each (considerably cheaper than the usual sixpence admission), and read:
“Subscribers Tickets—Admit bearer to the Zoological gardens on Easter Sunday. The procession of the animals will take place at 3 o’clock, and this ticket will not be available after that hour.—J.O. Wildboar, Secretary.“
The guard explained to the crowd that the tickets were not valid, and that they were all victims of an april fool’s day prank. Upon hearing this, the crowd grew more restless and began to insist loudly that they had paid their admission and were determined to see the animals of the zoo (the lions, tigers, bears, leopards, etc.) all walk in procession at 3 o’clock. Soon it became apparent that a riot was going to ensue unless these people were admitted, but before the situation became out of hand an extra force of constables arrived and dispersed the crowd.
The Zoological Society investigated the situation and discovered that the tickets had been sold by Mrs. Sarah Marks, a bookseller. The Society pressed charges against Mrs. Marks, but withdrew them when she wrote a letter apologizing for her behavior. Mrs. Marks’ prank recalled an old London custom of giving tickets to out-of-towners on the first of April granting them admission to see the feeding of the lions at the Tower of London. The out-of-towners would expectantly journey down to the Tower to see the feeding, only to learn that no lions had been kept in the Tower for many years. (See article: Washing the Lions