The last thing you might expect to find on a trip to the city is a lot of wildlife, but that’s just what you’ll get if you take a trip to London Zoo. The home of the Zoological Society of London and the world’s oldest scientific zoo, you will find a collection of over 755 species of animals making it one of the largest zoos in the UK.
The zoo has had a number of famous firsts throughout its lifetime, including being the first to open a reptile house, public aquarium and insect house in the world and being the first place in the UK to have a zoo specifically set up for children.
One of the main draws to the zoo, and one of the more recent additions to the collection, is Gorilla Kingdom. Opened by the Duke of Edinburgh in 2007, the gorilla enclosure houses a number of different types of apes and monkeys that are free to roam and play in the specially constructed gorilla gym.
The aquarium, which stands on the site of the first aquarium in the world to open all the way back in 1853, continues to cause quite a stir. Through three separate halls housing freshwater, coral reef and Amazonian species you will see a range of fish and other aquatic creatures from around the world. In addition, you will find the Big Fish Tank, which houses large species of fish that have been rescued from lives as domestic pets because they outgrew their owners’ ability to take care of them.
If you’re visiting with children, they’re bound to enjoy a trip around Animal Adventure. Including a number of playgrounds, a fountain and a whole host of interesting animals, children can get up close with a number of domestic animals and see into the worlds of a whole host of species. The central attraction is the Meerkat enclosure, which children can access by crawling through a series of tunnels to reach a see-through dome that allows them to peer right into the Meerkat habitat.
Some of the oldest inhabitants of the zoo are Dolly, Dolores, Polly and Priscilla – four Galapagos giant tortoises who took up residence at the zoo nearly four years ago. Known to live up to 170 years, the species has become endangered due to their hunting for tortoiseshell and as a culinary delicacy.
One of the major areas of work for conservationists at the zoo is the Tiger S.O.S Programme, which aims to save the Sumatran Tiger from extinction. As part of the project there will be the development of a new Tiger HQ at the zoo and a new exhibit where some of the rescued tigers can be seen in the city.
As the zoo receives no state funding, it is reliant on visitors, friends and fellows to contribute the money it needs to carry out its important conservation work and keep the animals already housed in the zoo. A visit to the zoo will do more than just inform and entertain; it will help continue the valuable work of the zoologists who are keeping and conserving vital species of animals from all over the globe.
With everything from alpacas to zebras, London Zoo is one of the finest in the world and well worth a visit on any trip to the city. Close to Regent’s Park and with a number of activities and exhibits that all the family can enjoy, it makes for a great day outdoors with the kids.