As we only visit London once a year or so we like to try new places each time. ZSL London Zoo is always somewhere I’ve fancied going so we made a plan to head there on Easter Sunday. I really didn’t have a clue what to expect or how large it was. Arriving around 12 noon we stayed until closing time at 6pm and still hadn’t seen everything. The place is vast and we were keen to catch a glimpse of our favourite animals, giraffes (me), tigers (Alan) Abigail (penguins) and Imogen (sloths!)
The zoo has been open since 1828 making it the world’s largest scientific zoo established by the Zoological Society of London (LSZ). Today the zoo hosts over 650 species of animals of which 112 are threatened species. Despite facing financial dire straits and threatened with closure in the 1980’s the zoo survived with the help of a fundraising campaign. Many of the buildings within in the zoo are listed and they are continuously making improvements to the enclosures.
Getting To London Zoo
London Zoo is located in a corner of Regents Park not far from Camden. We took a tube to Baker Street station and jumped in a London cab. The walk would have only been 20 minutes or so but in the theme of the trip, it was yet again raining! More of a continuous drizzle than our torrential London Docklands day though!
Entrance passed and map in hand it was time for our first experience…the Terrace Restaurant.
Feeding Time at the Zoo
The Terrace Restaurant is huge with a mezzanine floor and loads of choice, more of a canteen than a restaurant though with a grill bar, fish & chip counter and clay oven pizza bar. Following another theme of the weekend, the cafe was pretty busy but the staff managed to cope well with queues and quickly cleaning tables. We grabbed some sandwiches (£5) and chicken nugget kids meals (£5.50) and found a seat in the upstairs area. The outdoor veranda seating area would have been lovely on a hot summers day (if we ever get a Summer!). Fully refreshed we were ready to tackle the rest of the attractions.
Here were the highlights of the exhibitions:
Land of the Lions
This is the newest section of the zoo opening in 2016 at a cost of 5.2 million pounds to build and five times the size of the previous lion enclosure. This area reminded us a lot of the Harambe village in Disney’s Animal Kingdom park setting the scene for the Indian village where the tigers originated from.
In the Land of the Lions, there were lots of cool touches like a flip-flop shop, a bike repair shop, street food snack bar and a railway station. Two walkways allowed you to view the 4 Asiatic lions from above or on the ground. They are joined by a troop of Hanuman langur monkeys, who live alongside but separated from the lions. As we were strolling along we heard some audio ‘move out the way injured lion coming through’…..as we looked three of the zoo staff were carrying a very realistic looking lion complete with a war wound.
They needed a couple of young volunteers to help them tend to the wound and Abigail was picked! She had great fun taking the lions temperature and treating the wound with gauze.
This section is home to a colony of western lowland gorilla’s led by the male silverback Kumbuka. Making up the family are his children Alika and Gernot, was born. The group is completed by females Effie and Zaire.
The area is huge and there are loads of well-presented facts to find out more about the gorillas.
To get to this section you needed to go through a tunnel to underpass a road. This is when you remember you are in the centre of London. Alongside the path is a canal and we saw lots of barges coming past. Very cool.
For the first time in weeks, I actually felt warm in this area, due to its high heat and steamy atmosphere. In the rainforest section, we saw a sloth sleeping in the tree (impressive!) lots of monkeys, bats, and tamandua. In the downstairs of there was a nocturnal section which included loads of bats who were loving their watermelon!
Into Africa offers the opportunity to come eye to eye with some of Africa’s most unusual animals. Giraffes, zebras, okapis, warthogs and African hunting dogs all featured in this exhibit. Giraffes could be viewed from the platforms above which made you feel close to nature. I loved the historic giraffe houses which opened in 1836 and is the oldest building at the zoo which still houses the species for which it was designed.
Our Day at London Zoo
We had a brilliant afternoon at ZSL London Zoo and would recommend to anyone visiting the capital. Even on a drizzly day there is lots of the zoo indoors to save you from the elements. There are so many other areas I haven’t mentioned in detail like the huge aquarium, reptile house and walk through butterfly enclosure. If you lived close by the yearly pass would be a great investment. The zoo has a variety of talks throughout the day and we managed to catch one in the Rainforest which gave a great insight into a day in the life of the rainforest.
London zoo is pretty flat and well accessible to bring babies in buggies in. Although there are lots to see it was compact enough for the girls to walk without moaning too much. Some of the directions could be a little clearer as we found ourselves lost a few times but this is a small criticism. Like most attractions in London, the zoo is steeped in history and it was lovely to see all types of architecture from the Victorian age to the 1960’s modernist styles to the new enclosures. Whatever your stance is on zoo’s it is clear that London Zoo has a bit commitment to conservation and working on the ground in other countries to save endangered species.
London Zoo Animals Video
How much is Entry to YSL London Zoo?
Adult tickets range from £24.30 – £29.75, depending on whether you buy in advance and include a donation. For children over 3 years tickets are £18 to £22, with under 3’s going free. Family tickets (2 adults, 2 children) are available at £75.80 when bought in advance online.
We thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon at YSL and would recommend as a great London attraction whatever the weather.
Disclosure: We were guests of YSL, but we did pay for our own food in The Terrace Restaurant. All opinions are our own.