London Zoo lies on the northern edge of Regent’s Park in northwestern Central London. Initially opened in 1828 for scientific studies, it became a public zoo in 1848. Today London Zoo is the world’s largest and one of the world’s oldest zoos. Most major cities around the world have a zoo but London Zoo is a world apart with more than 20,000 animals from over 700 species.
The zoo is under the auspices of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and purchasing a ticket to the zoo helps fund the society’s conservation programmes. Today the zoo is involved in breeding programmes that involve over 100 species in over 50 countries around the world. London Zoo also has a long list of first including the first reptile house (1849), public aquarium (1853), insect house (1881) and children's zoo (1938).
Pelicans at London Zoo by Marta Malina Moraczewska
London Zoo is home to a rich diversity of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, fishes and invertebrates. The animals come from various habitats around the world including the tropical, temperate, arctic and desert regions. There are the usual attractions of lions, tigers, bears, zebras, giraffes, elephants, monkeys and apes. There are also the intriguing komodo dragons, penguins, sloths, anteaters, lemurs, chameleons, mongoose and seahorses to name a few.
Sumatran tigers at London Zoo by Katie Chan
See & Do
There are several themed areas at London Zoo. Favourites include the Land of the Lions, designed to resemble the Gir Forest National Park in India and home to Asiatic lions, langurs and dwarf mongoose. The Tiger Territory is home to the Sumatran tigers and the enclosure designed to resemble a jungle in Indonesia. The Aquarium at London Zoo has been around since 1853 and comprises of three halls dedicated to species from the freshwater, coral reef and the Amazon River. There is also the ‘Big Fish Tank’ with its large fish species that were once pets but became too large to care by the owners.
The Aquarium by Chris Sampson
The Komodo Dragon House is home to a large ferocious lizard known as the Komodo dragon notorious for its razor-sharp teeth and toxic saliva. The Reptile House has intriguing exhibits of poisonous and non-poisonous reptiles including rattlesnakes, king cobras, black mambas, tree boa snake and chameleons. The Butterfly Paradise is home to butterflies and moths from around the world and features a caterpillar hatchery and a pupa display cabinet. The African Bird Safari is an aviary where visitors walk over a long bridge passing over a stream and observe various species of birds from the African continent.
The Reptile House by William Hook
There are several daily programmes including events, feeds and demonstrations offering closer interactions with the animals. At the Tropical Bird Tour, you can get the opportunity to come ‘nose to beak’ with tropical birds. At the Llama Feed, you can learn about llamas and alpacas as they tuck into their lunch. At the Penguin Beach Live, presenters talk about the lives of penguins and their underwater world. At MegaBugs Live, you meet up close with crawly creatures and explore the lives of invertebrates. The programmes change regularly and therefore should find about the programmes that interest you before visiting.
Visiting London Zoo
London Zoo opens daily throughout the year except Christmas Day. The zoo opens at 10 a.m. and closes between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. (depending on the season) with the last admission an hour before closing. The closing time in summer is 6 p.m. and as the daylight hours get shorter, the zoo closes earlier at 5 p.m. and then 4 p.m. by October. You can purchase tickets at the entrance or online from the official Zoological Society of London website and get a discount.
The nearest London Underground station from London Zoo is Camden Town Station (serving the Northern Line) and is about 15 minutes on foot to the zoo. Other Underground stations located further but within 20-25 minutes walking distance include Regent’s Park (Bakerloo Line), Baker Street (Bakerloo, Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan and Jubilee Lines), Mornington Crescent (Northern Line) and Great Portland Street (Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan Lines) Stations. Camden Road Station serves the London Overground and about 20 minutes walking distance to the zoo.
London Zoo on the Map
ZSL London Zoo, Regent's Park, London, NW1 4RY, UK
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