*Review* Our day out at ZSL London Zoo.
We were kindly invited along for the ZSL London Zoo Press day and the measures they have in place after reopening due to the Covid pandemic.
Established in 1828 by the Zoological Society of London, (ZSL) is the oldest Scientific Zoo in the world, housing a variety of animals which were purely for scientific research. The tower of London transferred all the animals to the zoo in 1831, then the Zoo was opened up to the public in 1847. London is home to over 19,000 animals covering 36 acres.
We found the car park, which is easy to find, a good size and has plenty of space for visitors to the Zoo, parking charges apply at £14.50 for zoo visitors. You can also park on the road for up to 4 hours but please check the parking charges for this. Entry to the car park is by a manned barrier. Leaving the car park, there is then a short walk up the road to the main entrance of the zoo.
Once we had got to the main entrance we were quickly greeted by staff members who showed us where to go. Please be aware there is a bag search.
Once you are in the zoo you will find more staff members who are very helpful and more than happy to point you in the right direction. You will firstly see a large map the zoo have had erected with the colour zones and trails. This is a great addition and works very well in my opinion. You have three trails Orange, Blue and Pink. You can choose to do all three routes as they all end in the same place so you can then start another trail. The larger trail is the Orange which we did first. Lots of coloured arrows on the floor to keep you right. The trails definitely seemed to help with social distancing, as most visitors seem to follow the arrows and, should you get lost, there is always someone around to point you in the right direction. You will also find lots of hand sanitiser if you feel you need to use any.
We also spotted the benches that had been made using 2,000 plastic bottles! How cool is that it just looked like wood too.
First you come to the toilets and a large bird aviary housing some beautiful Ibis, we were lucky to see one fly. Once you set off again you come into Barclay Court, this is where it is all happening! You have a merry go round, cafe, Ice cream, picnic benches, Shop and the zoo exit. Once more people started coming into the Zoo, this is where it was the busiest but it still wasn't too busy. Following the route you find yourself in the farmyard with Llamas waiting to greet you and other farm like animals such as Goats (my fave) and pigs. There are more toilets available with changing rooms too. We then found ourselves in the Blackburn Pavillion bird aviary which was great, Elliot loved learning all about the different sized eggs and couldn't believe the size of the Hummingbird egg! It was tiny.
After the bird aviary you make your way round to The Land Of The Lions. WOW! What a place! The whole area has been done to make it feel and look like you are in India's Sasan Gir. Complete with a train station, high street and Guard hut. We loved it and thought it was a great effort to give you an authentic experience. We stayed in this area for a while and watched as the Asiatic Lions walked around they are so beautiful! Lions are one of our favourite animals and I just loved to hear them Roar. You can also experience the Gir Lion Lodge, where you can spend the night amongst the lions ( next to the enclosure) find out more about the lodges HERE
Back onto the orange trail and you then come to B.U.G.S (Biodiversity Underpinning Global Survival) housing an impressive 140 species of which 95% are invertebrates, along with a few birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. If you visit London Zoo be sure to check out The Jewel Wasp it is just stunning! Unfortunately for me, you will also find the spiders complete with their own free range spider walkthrough. I don't mind spiders as long as they are either in a tank or far enough away from me, but when they are literally hanging above your head and they are pretty big, no thanks. ( I was bitten by a spider a few years ago which does not help the anxiety towards them). They are very pretty creatures though. I waited outside whilst the boys and Craig enjoyed this experience. In here you will find the Golden Orb Spider which is pretty big and I saw it from a distance and it was very pretty. You can check out a video on the experience HERE
We finally made it down to Penguin Beach, Elliot just loves Penguins and he would have stayed there all day if we let him. He was so happy because he seemed to have made a friend who followed him all the way round in the tank. It also looked like the Penguin was waving at him when he waved back. We then got back to Barclay Court and we joined the Pink trail.
Here you find yourself on a trip to Africa. We spotted quite a few of the gorgeous animals here including Giraffe, African Hunting Dogs, Zebra and Okapi who is just beautiful. We spent a little time here just relaxing watching the Giraffes. Then we made our way to In With The Lemurs. It took us a while to spot them as they were peeping out from under a giant leaf but they were very cute! Once we had looked at the Lemurs we walked through a large tunnel which had some lovely graffiti art and the history of the zoo along the walls which we loved. The boys always like to stop and read things like this and find out more about the zoo. Elliot really likes the Sir David Attenborough connections as he is quite a fan of his and has previously put on little shows for his Nana, pretending to be David. (He is a mini conservationist and has THE biggest heart)
Once we had finished the Pink trail we headed for the Blue trail, which is the one I was really looking forward to.
I Just love Monkeys of any kind, they are just so fascinating to me and Gorilla Kingdom is just spectacular. I was a little disappointed with The Gorilla Kingdom, not because of the Zoo but because the Gorilla was hiding. All we spotted was him picking his nose, then off he went haha! After that we went to find the Tiger and we found a very sleepy kitty who was just super pretty. His feet were actually huge!
The Gibbon enclosure was Elliot's favourite part, as they seemed like they were interacting with him and were making gestures, as if to say throw in your water bottle please. When Elliot hid his water bottle they stormed off in a huff. Elliot thought this was absolutely hilarious and I think he has a new favourite animal.
We missed out the Reptile house because the twice we past it we thought it looked pretty busy inside, so we decided to give it a miss. All in all the day was fantastic, the Zoo have done a great job with social distancing measures, everyone who was visiting seemed to be socially aware and there was lots to see and do. The enclosures were fantastic and very clean.
Elliots highlight was the Gibbons, wanting his water bottle.
Adams highlight was the Lions and the whole India theme
Tobys highlight was the spiders and getting up close with them.
*Pre booked tickets only. Times are spread out so they can monitor how many people are in the zoo.
*Face masks must be worn in some of the indoor areas and you can buy masks on site if you don't have one.
*Food is available as take away only. You can take in your own food and use one of the many picnic benches.
*No Cash is accepted
*Signs everywhere to remind you about Covid. Also signs asking people not to touch the barriers.
*Water refill machines at a cost of 25p per bottle
*Plenty of hand sanitiser stations available
*Wide enough pathways to distance if needed
*3 one way trails to follow with large arrows to keep you right.
*There are large maps to check in Barclay court to make sure you don't miss anything.
*Limited numbers allowed in the shop at any one time
*Protective screens at contact points
*Play areas are closed
*Plenty of spotlessly clean toilets around the site.
*Self store luggage lockers available
*Maps are available online to download and print
*Please take drinks and sunscreen. It was super hot when we visited
Opening Times and ticket info
Staggered entry times and booking slots, to ensure safe social distancing
10-2 & 2-6
Adults aged 16 - 64 from £27.27
Child aged 3-15 from £17.73
Under 3 FREE ENTRY
Senior aged 65+ from £24.54
Student from £24.54
Disabled Adult from £24.54 (carer goes free)
Disabled Child from £17.73 (carer goes free)
Annual memberships are also available please see ZSL LONDON ZOO WEBSITE FOR MORE INFO HERE
The only negative points we had were:
*We feel there was no social distancing on the balcony at the cafe and it was pretty busy. We didn't go up but you could see from the ground how busy it was.
*The reptile house had too many people in it. Though this could have been bad timing on our part.
*A few people were heard complaining about no maps being available, so maybe a stand with some maps that people could take themselves, if they wanted one?
Overall, a fantastic effort by the staff at ZSL London Zoo, we will be heading back again soon to enjoy the many species of animals that call it home. Want to help? You can find out more about how you can help the zoo HERE
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