Despite his health, Rothschild served part-time as an officer in a Territorial Army unit, the Royal Buckinghamshire Yeomanry, where he was a captain from July 1902, promoted to major in 1903 and retiring in 1909.
More DetailsHide DetailsAs an active Zionist and close friend of Chaim Weizmann, he worked to formulate the draft declaration for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. On 2 November 1917 he received a letter from the British foreign secretary, Arthur Balfour, addressed to his London home at 148 Piccadilly. In this letter the British government declared its support for the establishment in Palestine of "a national home for the Jewish people". This letter became known as the Balfour Declaration.
Walter Rothschild was a Conservative Member of Parliament for Aylesbury from 1899 until he retired from politics at the January 1910 general election.
More DetailsHide DetailsIt housed one of the largest natural history collections in the world, and was open to the public.
He also hired taxidermists, a librarian, and, most importantly, professional scientists to work with him to curate and write up the resulting collections: Ernst Hartert, for birds, from 1892 until his retirement at the age of 70 in 1930; and Karl Jordan for entomology, from 1893 until Rothschild's death in 1937.
More DetailsHide DetailsAt its largest, Rothschild's collection included 300,000 bird skins, 200,000 birds' eggs, 2,250,000 butterflies, and 30,000 beetles, as well as thousands of specimens of mammals, reptiles, and fishes. They formed the largest zoological collection ever amassed by a private individual.
The Rothschild giraffe (Giraffa camelopardis rothschildi), a subspecies with five ossicones instead of two, was named after him. Another 153 insects, 58 birds, 17 mammals, three fish, three spiders, two reptiles, one millipede, and one worm also carry his name.
He worked there from 1889 to 1908. Нe evidently lacked any interest or ability in the financial profession, but it was not until 1908 that he was finally allowed to give it up.
More DetailsHide DetailsHowever, his parents established a zoological museum as a compensation, and footed the bill for expeditions all over the world to seek out animals.
Rothschild was tall, suffered from a speech impediment and was very shy, but he had his photograph taken riding on a giant tortoise, and drove a carriage harnessed to six zebras to Buckingham Palace to prove that zebras could be tamed.
Though he never married, Rothschild had two mistresses, one of whom bore him a daughter.
Rothschild studied zoology at Magdalene College, Cambridge. Meeting Albert Günther sparked his interest in the taxonomy of birds and butterflies.
Although Rothschild himself travelled and collected in Europe and North Africa for many years, his work and health concerns limited his range, and beginning while at Cambridge he employed others - explorers, professional collectors, and residents - to collect for him in remote and little-known parts of the world.
In 1889, leaving Cambridge after two years, he was required to go into the family banking business to study finance.
More DetailsHide DetailsAt the age of seven, he declared that he would run a zoological museum, and as a child, he collected insects, butterflies, and other animals. Among his pets at the family home in Tring Park were kangaroos and exotic birds. As a boy, Rothschild was once dragged off his horse and assaulted by workmen while on a hunting ride near Tring, an experience that he personally attributed to Anti-Semitism.
At 21, he reluctantly went to work at the family bank, N M Rothschild & Sons in London.
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