We recently spent a family day out exploring ZSL London Zoo and we really did pack a lot into our day. Our capital’s zoo was my first experience of animals from around the world, back in the early 1970’s. I can still remember seeing Guy the Gorilla, the Giant Panda’s and even the Polar Bears. I was really interested to return some forty odd years later with my eight year old son and make some memories which will hopefully also last him a lifetime.
I’m really not sure why we haven’t visited ZSL London Zoo as a family before, we were definitely long overdue to see everything it has to offer, especially as it houses one of the largest collections of animals in the United Kingdom. We travelled down to London by train and walked through Regents Park from Marylebone Station, which took us about 20 minutes. The nearest tube station is Regents Park, you’ll also need to walk for about the same time. But to be honest, the park itself is a nice start to any visit and we’d spotted a few varieties of ducks and geese as well as a heron before we’d arrived at the zoo. It had certainly got my animal loving son in the mood for a day of adventures.
We were given a map as we arrived to help us with exploring ZSL London Zoo, although my son made a beeline for the map on the wall – look Mummy, they’ve got giraffes!
My son has had a love affair with giraffes all his life, and we regularly visit them at ZSL London Zoo’s sister zoo – ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, and you can get membership to visit both! There was no chance that we were getting to see any animals at ZSL London Zoo without saying hello to the giraffes first.
As soon as we saw the tunnel I was straight back to my own childhood, and memories of visits with my parents and younger brother. Although I think the wall art is a new addition, we all thought they were a rather fab addition.
We’d arrived at ZSL London Zoo not long after it opened so we could make the most of our day and I know that any visit to a zoo normally involves a fair amount of walking. We decided that as we were going to see the giraffes, we’d also see the rest of the animals that are housed on the Regents Canal side of the zoo first.
My son was thrilled that the giraffes were outside when we arrived at the giraffe house and he loved the fact there was so much space to watch them from. It also showed me that no matter how busy it might get later in the day, there would still be plenty of room for him and other children to get a good view.
We always try to make it to at least one animal talk when we are visiting a zoo and having noted the time for Giraffe High Tea (again, talk times were given to us on entry to ZSL London Zoo) we made sure we were back in the same area later in the day. The talk was held inside the Giraffe House and we got to see a couple of the giraffes having an afternoon treat as the keeper gave us a talk about the animals themselves. We got to learn that the Okapi are the nearest living relative to the Giraffe’s amongst other things.
The Okapi are housed right next door to the Giraffe and we saw them frolicking around their paddock a couple of times during our time exploring ZSL London Zoo.
There are a couple of Pygmy Hippos living at the zoo, in the morning they were both rather camera shy, but on our second visit we got a far better view of these rather lovely animals.
The Snowdon Aviary is an iconic landmark and something I remember clearly from my own childhood, so we were eager to share that experience with my son and as soon as he was soon off exploring.
Lemurs, Meerkats and Otters are all family favourites so we were thrilled to discover all of them at ZSL London Zoo.
The zoo is very focussed on conservation as well as recycling, and my son was fascinated to discover that the benches dotted around the zoo were all made from recycled plastic bottles. A trip to the toilet uncovered another fact that he’ll be amazing all his friends at school with. At ZSL London Zoo all the animal poo is donated to local farmers
If you want to have a few quiet moments whilst exploring ZSL London Zoo then we can recommend the Wildlife Walk which runs close to Regents Canal and behind some of the animal enclosures. We spotted grey squirrels, blackbirds and a couple of robins on our stroll, and we had the area to ourselves A little hidden gem.
It’s no secret that I adore big cats and for me, they are a highlight of any trip to the zoo, and I wasn’t disappointed this time around either. The Sumatran Tiger we saw was just stunning and I could have stayed in Tiger Territory all day.
There are a number of places to spot the tiger as you walk through the area and it really is very green.
The lions living in Land of the Lions were feeling very laid back on our visit, but there’s something rather magical about looking at these wonderful animals snoozing.
Exploring ZSL London Zoo in 2018 is so very different to the 1970’s visits of my childhood. All of the enclosures are so much more authentic to the animals natural habitat and offer them stimulation. We all stood in awe as we watched the Gorilla wandering around the grasses in the Gorilla Kingdom. Just wonderful.
A visit to the zoo isn’t just about the larger animals for us, we get just as much enjoyment from seeing the smaller animals too. My son is the third generation of bug hunters in our family so the Insects were always going to be a big draw, along with the spiders he doesn’t get that love from me though!). The BUGS area is really very good and a perfect place to get up close to our tiny friends
My son was in his element as we looked for stick insects, locusts and the like.
Within the Spider area you can walk through a room with the largest spiders webs I’ve seen and their weavers are often to be found hanging overhead.
There are lots of insects and spiders to admire and it’s by far the best of its kind we’ve visited. We could have spent hours in there alone. It’s our kind of place.
They have a rather wonderful bug hotel at ZSL London Zoo too, I think a certain young man would like a replica of this in our back garden.
We did have to queue for the Butterfly Paradise enclosure, but only for 5-10 minutes and we did get to see a number of butterflies once inside as well as some rather wonderful caterpillars.
The Reptile House didn’t disappoint and as well as the crocodile and snakes we got to see an African Bull Frog, Caiman Lizard and some rather wonderful frogs.
My son even got to touch some different reptile skins in one of the hands on sessions.
The Aquarium at ZSL London Zoo covers three different areas and we even got to see some baby seahorses, much to my son’s delight.
If you know the blog well you will remember that we had Macaws in an aviary when I was a child and they remain very close to my heart. We got to see Blue and Turquoise Macaws on our visit.
These were just our highlights from a day spent exploring ZSL London Zoo. We had a full day at the zoo and still didn’t manage to visit the Farmyard and I think we missed the Animal Adventure area sadly. But it does give us a good reason to return. It’s also made me realise that a visit to London doesn’t just mean visiting museums and the like, we really should visit the zoo again. We had a great family day out.
We even came home with a new addition to the family. Yes I’m a soft touch, but he loves giraffes so much and I’m now looking into Giraffe adoptions and a Giraffe experience as future birthday present ideas for my giraffe mad son!
Have you been to ZSL London Zoo? If so, what’s your favourite area of the zoo? If not, maybe you might like to pin this post for the future.
disclosure: we were given complimentary tickets and I’ve been compensated for my time and travel in exchange for an honest review. My comments are as always my own honest opinions.