Situated in the north end of Regent’s Park, ZSL London Zoo is surprisingly well camouflaged.
But as you walk along the Outer Circle, parallel to Regent’s Canal, you’ll suddenly catch a glimpse of the African hunting dogs prowling around their pen, and the excitement will begin to build.
On entering, the temptation to run off in every direction at once in search of your favourite mammal/bird/reptile/amphibian/fish/invertebrate is very difficult to ignore. But be methodical – there are 19,035 animals and nearly 600 species in this creature palace; you don’t want to miss anything by being too gung-ho.
In the shape of a triangle, there’s a path that hugs the perimeter – if you take it anti-clockwise you’ll start in the reptile house, before hitting the outback, gibbons, tiger territory, the farmyard, animal adventure (a new area where you can see animals up close) and the monkey house at the apex. Then come back down via land of the lions, B.U.G.S., flamingos, butterfly paradise and penguin beach.
Have a quick stop off in the terrace restaurant which offers a few, simple hot options like pizza or fish and chips, as well as a deli counter that offers some cold options (sandwiches and salads mainly), and discuss, with childlike energy, what your favourite bit has been…so far. To save cash, you can also bring your own lunchbox with you, as long as you promise to share your cheesestring.
Quenched and sated, head to gorilla kingdom before crossing under the road and finishing with the meerkats and otters, rainforest life, lemurs and last but certainly not least, into Africa.
There are specific animal events at certain times during the day that you can try and time as you go around, including watching the penguins whizzing about under the water, the tigers playing the biggest version of cat and ball you’ve ever seen and the giraffes eating with their 20 inch tongues. And if you’re really keen, you can book (long in advance) for a close-up experience like meeting the penguins.
And don’t worry – ZSL London is the world’s oldest zoology centre dedicated to the conservation of wildlife.
So you can rest easy that every creature there is getting well looked after.
NOTE: ZSL London Zoo is open daily from 10-6. Last entry is an hour prior to the closing time. During the winter months, these times change due to the external temperature and light. For more information, click here.
ZSL London Zoo | Outer Circle, Regent’s Park, NW1 4RY
Like animals? There’s a petting zoo at the Horniman Museum, too