Some pages and illustrations from the Infant’s Cabinet of Birds and Beasts, published in London in 1820:
These illustrations are just wonderful and I had it in my head that the children looking at these drawings at the time would have very little chance of setting eyes on live elephants and zebras. But that is not necessarily so, because a visit to the circus was a popular pastimes during the mid 1800′s (when Victorian children may have taken this book down from a bookcase).
The Victoria & Albert museum has an excellent page on the Victorian circus. Here are a couple of images from the V & A website:
And they could see animals which are now extinct, as as a type of zebra called a Quagga: