London Zoo was probably one of the first zoo’s Sharon and I remember visiting when we were young, which is no surprise seeing as it opened in 1828! I remember visiting when I was little and seeing a number of rare animals (for that time anyway!) and being in complete awe. From Gorillas to Pandas, London Zoo was one of a kind for many years. I’m also pretty sure I remember riding a camel.
More recently, we were introduced to the wonders of ZSL London Zoo: Gruesome Nature Live! at Camp Bestival, which got us thinking about re-visiting London Zoo. We rarely venture into London, so seeing as we were visiting for something else that day we thought we’d pay them a visit and see how much has changed over the twenty-something years.
Lions and Tigers
and Bears and gorillas, oh my!
The weather that day was both a pain and a blessing at the same time. Whilst it was incredibly miserable weather-wise, especially as we weren’t appropriately dressed for continual rain, it was also very quiet during our visit, meaning a lot of the enclosures often had no one inside, this resulted in having some exhibits to ourselves!
That being said, because it was quite rainy, a lot of the animals remained inside (and quite right too!) so we weren’t always able to get as many photos as we would have liked, and T couldn’t always see above the barriers by himself. Nevertheless, we actually had a really good time, and even in the rain there was still plenty to see and do and a number of places to visit that kept us warm and dry!
Starting our tour of the zoo at the Aquarium, one of the oldest buildings at the zoo, we spent a good amount of time admiring several species we hadn’t seen before, which is saying something considering we’ve been to several Aquariums in T’s lifetime alone.
There were coral reef and a variety of communities within them, as well as lots of “Big Fish” that are a prime feature within the Aquarium. They were very impressive. There are also eels, seahorses, and river stingrays! The Aquarium seemed to go on for miles, which was a pleasant surprise. It was like a tardis.
Moving on, we then hopped across to the reptile house – which was made extra famous in the first Harry Potter movie. Here we saw a huge selection of snakes, lizards and crocodiles, as well as several amphibians. This was a welcome visit as it was lovely and warm!
Right next door was then a continuation of the reptile experience with the (Attenborough) Komono Dragon House which also houses the Galapagos tortoises!
After drying off, it was time to go back outside and explore the more outdoor enclosures. Following the map, we made our way to the outback area – which sadly had an area shut off for renovation. Here, despite the weather though, we were still able to see some red Kangaroos and Emus. We then made our way to the ‘Tiger Territory’, which is one of many impressive enclosures at London Zoo.
Home to two tigers, Jae Jae and a female named Melati. The Indonesian themed walkthrough takes you to a large enclosure spread across two floors with floor to ceiling viewing points. The exhibit itself is also home to several other enclosures, from bearded pigs to tapirs, as well as cheeky gibbons. Although both tigers were very chilled that day, we still enjoyed watching them. They were magnificent.
Making sure we completed the first half of the zoo before moving onto the next, we walked back on ourselves and visited the second equally impressive exhibit; Gorilla Kingdom. This is probably one of the enclosures I remember from what I was young – although it’s changed significantly since my last visit. Here is where you will find six impressive western lowland gorillas; headed by the gorgeous Silverback; Kumbuka.
Living on their own personal island when out and about, this colony is also surrounded by several other primates that surround the Gorilla’s inside enclosure. This is a very engaging habitat, as you never really realise how close you are. There are canopies above and the glass between you and the gorillas are decorated accordingly. It’s a very beautiful exhibit, with lots to read and see.
Stopping to have a quick snack, we then made our way across the zoo to what feel like the other ‘half’ although unbeknownst to us there’s also a THIRD area which you access via walking under the exterior road. This third area is home to the ‘Into Africa’ enclosure; which is where you will find Giraffes, Zebras, and Pigmy Hippos, as well as meerkats and smaller primates. Sadly, we didn’t have time to visit the third area as we had to catch the train home – but we will definitely re-visit soon to catch up on what we missed!
Arriving at the other half of the zoo after crossing the lawns and play park, we found ourselves at ‘Penguin Beach’ which is probably where we spent most of our time. Over the last few years we’ve seen several Penguin enclosures, but this is by far probably the biggest one and one of the prettiest – even in the rain – with lots of places to stop and watch the penguins from underneath the water. T thoroughly enjoyed playing hide and seek with them in one of their domed galleries. When we arrived, feeding time had just finished – which meant everyone was busy swimming around!
Our last tour of the day was around ‘Land of the Lions’ once we eventually tore T away from the Penguins! Land of the Lions is one the newest exhibits at London Zoo and is home to four Lions within the Indian-themed enclosure, which includes an interactive adventure!
Like most of the other animals, the Lions were very sleepy due to the weather, although because of this it meant we could get up close and personal.
After spending some time watching the Lions sleep, time was getting on and the weather started to worsen, so we started to make our way towards the exit via the gift shop! Although we didn’t get much time to browse, I was really impressed with it’s size and sheer choice available. What they didn’t stock wasn’t worth selling. Next to the gift shop was also the Terrace Restaurant, which was surprisingly large and another reason for us to visit.
I’m genuinely gutted we didn’t get to see everything. Due to the weather, it put T off walking as much as he usually would which in turn slowed us down quite a bit. It really is a massive zoo. Nevertheless, we still enjoyed ourselves and will absolutely visit again in the summer.
I was so impressed with how much there was to see at London Zoo (not to mention how big the zoo is now!), and whilst there were some parts of it that needed a little love, it certainly didn’t ruin anything about the visit – if anything it made me want to come back to see what they do next! It’s constantly changing by the looks of things. Just looking at the map you can see locations that are ‘under construction’ which is really exciting.
Plus, with shows such as Gruesome Nature Live! which is on this October Half Term there’s always something new to see!
We received complimentary tickets to London Zoo in exchange for an honest review, however all thoughts, opinions, and imagery are our own.