The Menagerie was constructed to house an exotic rakshasa, received by Imperatrix Lisabetta as a coronation gift from the Principalities of Jarm. Concerns were immediately raised by the Civil Service about the care and tending to of the rakshasa after its arrival; as a rare and magical creature of significant value and unusual needs, it required an appropriately secure and comfortable location for its housing. Suggestions were soon mooted that the rakshasa be put on show in an enclosure in one of the cities of the League, so that the public citizenry might have a chance to see the oddity (and their coin might help pay for its needs); the greatest volume of such requests came from Holberg. In Winter 380YE the Senator of Morrow, Ariadne of the Auric Horizon, proposed not just a simple holding structure but a far grander menagerie that would greatly increase the production of tears by 'Flocki', as well as including space for other creatures to be put on show. Construction proceeded apace, funded by the Empress's own House of Seven Mirrors, and was completed in Spring 381YE when the menagerie opened to the public.
The Keeper of the Imperial Menagerie oversees the harvest of magical substances from the rakshasa - which provides both a slow but steady stream of Winter vis and a supernatural drug known as Tears of the Rakshasa. They Keeper is responsible for the ongoing wellbeing of the rakshasa - dubbed 'Flocki', by the children of Holberg - and if something were to happen to the exotic beast, it would fall on the shoulders of the Keeper to deal with the problem. Were Flocki to perish, the flow of arcane substances would abruptly cease.
Theoretically, were the Menagerie extended and other strange beasts housed within it, the Keeper's duties would also extend to looking after those creatures as well.
Tears of the Rakshasa
The menagerie attracts sightseers and scholars from across the Empire. Since the renovations after the Summer Solstice 382YE, the keeper receives an income of 2 Thrones each season generated by these tourists.
This title is an Imperial position appointed by The Throne. The Keeper serves until they die or step down. Any Imperial citizen is eligible to hold this title. They can be revoked by a lesser majority of the General Assembly, and by the Assembly of the Nine.
If you'll excuse the frankness, in short, somewhere needs to be provided for the drake to live, and it has specialist needs. It requires a sturdy structure that will protect it and prevent it from escaping, basic arcane elements to help stimulate the production of its tears, a steady diet of meat and the provision of particular alchemical products to sustain its well-being. We are currently housing it in a sturdy cattle-pen. This is obviously not suitable.Grigor van Temeschwar, Civil Servant, shortly after the arrival of the rakshasa
When the eastern Principalities of Jarm presented the newly-crowned Imperatrix Lisabetta with a rare and valuable gift - a trained adult rakshasa - the question of where to keep the beast arose. The decision was taken to house the rakshasa in a new Imperial menagerie, built as part of the grand park being constructed in Holmauer. The menagerie was the first piece of the park to be completed and opened to the public.
There is no doubt the rakshasa is the main attraction - the structure includes a very sturdy enclosure, with a viewing gallery from which Imperial citizens can indulge their curiosity and see the strange beast with their own eyes. It also includes secure internal chambers for the arcane procedures involved in harvesting the creature's tears.
A number of additional pens house a number of more mundane beasts, including a muster of peacocks, a single Urizen tiger, a pair of forest lions from Weirwater, a breeding colony of dodo birds imported from Feroz, and several ornery goats of Marcher stock whose antics are deemed highly comical by the local visitors.
The sturdy construction of the menagerie certainly echoes the solid craftwork and architecture for which Holberg is famous. This is just as well - given the dangerous nature of some of the inhabitants. Yet at the same time, the rising arches and peaks of the buildings call to mind the spires of Urizen - an odd fusion of two very distinct architectural styles most likely inspired by the influence of Ariadne, Senator for Morrow, who commissioned and oversaw construction of the menagerie.
As well as the rakshasa itself, several other animals are housed in the menagerie, much to the delight of the folk of Holberg. However, ambitious plans to expand the collection even further have, thus far, fallen foul of unforeseen difficulties. A lone dire penguin was captured by Suaq hunters and conveyed across the Empire to Holberg, but sadly perished due to a lack of something unknown in its diet that the keepers were unfortunately unable to puzzle out. The greatly diminished numbers of the famous Gancio dire cranes after the Grendel raid on Sarvos has left the menagerie unable to acquire even a single of the glorious white birds, especially due to concerns by scholars of the rebuilding Diora University that the crane population remains too fragile to remove even a single breeding adult. One scheme to build a magically-warded collection of boggarts was halted early on due to what civil servants summarised as 'a wide raft of problems indeed, not least the consumption of the plans by a loose harpy boggart'.
Following the Summer Solstice 382YE, extensive renovations expanded the menagerie and made room for new, ore ambitious, additions to the collection. The new facilities have prompted the civil service to look for new opportunities to add to the collection of beasts held in the menagerie.