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London Zoo

London Zoo is located in London, the capital of the United Kingdom. It has been open since 1828 and is one of the oldest operating zoos in the world.

The zoo is operated by the Royal Zoological Society of London who also own Whipsnade Zoo.

Attractions


Carousel

The zoo has a carousel on which guests can take a ride.


Playground

Here kids can let off some steam while the parents rest.


Splash Zone

This water based zone allows kids to play in a mini stream or a secret garden and introduces them to the importance of conserving water.


Animals in Action

Watch a skilled team of animals as they show off their flying, leaping and climbing prowess during this demonstration.


*Please remember to check the zoo’s website for prices, opening times, terms and conditions.*

London Zoo

Location

London,

England,

United Kingdom

Year Opened

1828

Land Size

15ha (36 acres)

Number of Animals

19,035

Number of Species

592

History

In 1826 Stamford Raffles founded the Zoological Society of London. This means that London Zoo is the world’s oldest scientific zoo. At this point land for the zoo and plans were drawn up for the zoo. Unfortunately Raffles died later that year. The project was then taken over by the third Marquis of Lansdowne.


He led the project to an opening in 1828. At this point only Fellows of the Society and public who obtained a written ‘order’ from a fellow and paid 1 shilling could enter.


The next year King George IV granted the Zoological Society a Royal Charter. In 1831 the Royal animal collection which had been maintained at the Tower of London till this time was presented to ZSL.


In 1837 Charles Darwin became a fellow of the society.


Until 1847 the zoo had only been open to fellows for scientific purposes. At this point it was opened to the public.


London Zoo opened the world’s first Reptile house during 1849 followed by the first public aquarium in 1853. In 1881 they had another first with the opening of an Insect House.


Finding that more land was needed for studying large animals in natural surrounds the ZSL Secretary began to envision a site which was less than 112km (70 miles) from London and more than 80ha (200 acres) in size. In 1926 Hall Farm near Whipsnade was purchased and in 1928 animals from London Zoo began to move there. In 1931 Whipsnade Wild Animal Park opened to the public as the first open zoological park on Earth.


The Lubetkin penguin pool was opened in 1934. Penguins lived here until they were moved out for a refurbishment in 2004 and they took so well to the duck pond where they were temporarily housed that it was decided they would not move back.


In 1938 another first occurred with the opening of the Children’s Zoo.


World War II saw the zoo close between the 3rd and 9th of September 1939. It also necessitated the move of the giant pandas, elephants and rhinos to Whipsnade.


From 1960-61 the Institute of Zoology was established. This saw laboratories built where scientists employed by ZSL could undertake research.


During 1962 the zoo took part in the first international co-operative breeding program when they lent an Arabian oryx to the world herd in Phoenix Arizona.


London Zoo held the largest number of animals in Britain during the 1990s with 7,000 animals almost double that of Chester Zoo the nearest collection.


Unfortunately changing public opinion towards the cramped conditions needed to have that many animals saw the zoo facing closure during 1991. With a swell in visitor numbers and donations the zoo was kept open.


In 1995 100 sand gazelles were released into the Empty Quarter in Saudi Arabia.


In 1998 4,000 British field crickets went into the wilds of Southern England.


1999 saw the opening of the Millennium Conservation Centre by Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. It was also in this year that the zoo launched their first website.


During 2000 the scene in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone where Harry talks to a Burmese Python was filmed at the zoo’s black mamba enclosure.


In 2004 Sir David Attenborough visited the zoo to open the Komodo Island of Dragons exhibit. The zoo also opened an African bird safari walkthrough and Meet the Monkeys walkthrough.


950 exotic fish and coral that had been seized at Heathrow were rescued by ZSL in 2006.


The Edge of Existence program was launched during 2007 which was also the year that Gorilla Kingdom opened.


In 2008 the Blackburn pavilion and outback exhibits opened. These were followed by Animal Adventure and Giants of the Galapagos exhibits the next year.


During 2010 a three part documentary titled ‘The Zoo’ was aired on ITV. It followed the daily going ons at the London and Whipsnade zoos.


2011 saw penguin beach opened. While in 2013 the Tiger Territory enclosure opened. It so accurately replicates the Indonesian forest habitat of the Sumatran tiger that they have already bred there.


In 2014 two pygmy hippos moved into their new enclosure.

During 2019 it was announced that the zoo's aquarium would close with the animal's relocated to 2 smaller aquariums one in the B.U.G.S exhibit and the other located at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.

In 2020 the zoo began work to transform the Snowdon Aviary in to a habitat for black and white colobus.

Star Animals


Obaysch

In 1850 visitor numbers to the zoo doubled when Obaysch the hippo arrived at the zoo. He was the first hippo seen in Europe since Roman times.


Guy

Clutching a tin-hot water bottle a young gorilla arrived at London Zoo on Guy Fawkes day 1947. Here he would live till his death in 1978 capturing the hearts of all who meet him.


Goldie

Goldie a golden eagle bought the roads around Regents Park to a standstill when she escaped in 1965. Britain was obsessed as they tried to find her. For a fortnight she featured on TV and in the papers till they found her.


Winnie

An American black bear was deposited at the zoo in 1914 by a Canadian lieutenant. When A.A Milne took his son to the zoo and they meet Winnie the tale of Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin was born.


Brumas

Brumas the polar bear was born at the zoo on November 27 1949. He was the first baby polar bear born in Britain. He was very popular in the papers and led to the creation of books, postcards and toys about him. Unfortunately news reports at the time did not realize that he was in fact a she.


Jumbo and Alice

Jumbo the African elephant arrived at London Zoo in 1865 and is one of the largest elephants to have ever lived. He gave rides until he became aggressive and eventually he was sold to the Barnum and Bailey circus in America.

Chi Chi

The most famous giant panda to call London Zoo home. Chi Chi arrived in 1958 after being refused entry to Washington DC due to a trade moratorium with China. She passsed in 1972 and for much of her life was the only panda on display in the West. Chi Chi also served as the inspiration for the World Wildlife Fund logo.

Main Exhibits


Tiger Territory

Journey into the Indonesian rainforest where you can come across tigers through floor to ceiling glass windows. Here the tigers can climb the tall trees and engage in natural hunting behaviours.


Gorilla Kingdom

Enter the kingdom of the world’s largest ape and meet the zoo's gorilla troop. Here you can meet African birds before journeying to see the main event, the gorilla troop. Further on there are white-naped mangabeys and white colobus monkeys.

Penguin Beach

Get introduced to the Humboldt penguins at London Zoo’s penguin beach. You’ll also see Ricky the rockhopper, a penguin with personality. This enclosure has underwater viewing and a penguin nursery.

Rainforest Life

This indoors experience introduces you firstly to the animals of the rainforest where you can meet monkeys, armadillos, sloths and tamanduas. Then journey into the ‘Night Life’ zone where the lights are out and the bats and rats are up.


Butterfly Paradise

Meet butterflies from Africa, South-east Asia, Central and South America in the zoo’s tropical walkthrough. You can also visit the pupae holding room where you can see the young butterflies emerging.


Animal Adventure

Travel through the four zones of Animal Adventure where you can meet a range of animals. In the tree top zone kids can view coatis while the climb, swing and play on lookout towers. Meanwhile in the roots zone kids can explore underground worlds. Splash zone allows them to play in the mini stream and finally in the touch zone they can get up-close to donkeys, llamas and kune-kune pigs.

Land of the Lions

Opened in 2016 this exhibit provides an updated home for the zoos group of Asiatic lions. The area also features an enclosure for Hanuman langurs.


Into Africa

Get up close to animals such as giraffes, zebra, okapi, warthogs and African hunting dogs in this exhibit.


Reptile House

Meet the snakes, lizards, crocodiles and frogs which call London Zoo home in this exhibit.


B.U.G.S

B.U.G.S (Biodiversity Underpinning Global Survival) introduces you to species such as spiders and millipedes along with many other creepy crawlies. 140 species can be found in this exhibit.


In with the spiders

In the UK’s first ever spider walk-though guests can get up close to numerous golden orb weaver spiders.


In the with lemurs

Get close to a group of ring-tailed lemurs and black and white ruffed lemurs in this re-creation of the Madagascan shrub forest in this enclosure which allows you to go inside.


Meet the Monkeys

Enter a re-creation of the Bolivian forest where a group of black-capped squirrel monkeys live right in the centre of London.


Blackburn Pavilion

Get up close to a range of birds such as kookaburras and toucans in the Blackburn pavilion. This exhibit was built in 1883 and houses 50 different bird species.

References

London Zoo Website - https://www.zsl.org/london

Londonist Land of the Lions article - https://londonist.com/2016/03/queen-opens-london-zoo-lion-enclosure

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