The Jardin des Plantes menagerie was established in the context of the French Revolution in opposition to princely and commercial menageries. Considered by historians as the first zoological garden, it would become a model, inspiring the foundation of other, powerful institutions, such as the London Zoo (1828). Its designers intended to resolve old tensions regarding the status of wild animals and to build more symmetrical relationships with them. This article aims to shed additional light on this movement, from the revolutionary seizures of animals deposited at the National Museum of Natural History to the construction of the first permanent building erected for the ‘ferocious beasts’ (1818-1821). Taking into account the animal side of history, in line with the recent animal turn, it posits that the designers of the Jardin des Plantes menagerie reinforced precisely the carceral constraints some of them intended to renounce. In so doing, they determined and shaped modes of interacting with nonhuman animals that, ever since, have continued to permeate our relationships with them.