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Go Wild in London.
Member Name: Lools_24
Date: 26/01/09, updated on 02/10/12 (149 review reads)
Advantages: Variety of animals, passionate staff, animals well looked after
Disadvantages: Layout and signage, distance from tube
I love visiting London and Mr Lools and I used to be regular London visitors, having trips down to the Capital for a few days at least twice a year. Once we had visited most of the main "sights" and done the likes of the river cruise, visited the palace, the London Eye we started looking for other attractions. One of my favourites has been London Zoo.
ZSL London Zoo is located in Regents Park in central London and is home to over 750 species of animals. The zoo first opened in 1828 and since then the collection of animals has been growing. The zoo has tigers, lions, giraffes, penguins, gorillas, various types of monkeys, reptiles, zebras, a butterfly house and aquarium including in its exhibits.
The zoo is open from 10am-5.30pm during mid to peak season and from 10am-4pm during the low/ winter season. The prices are on a tiered system and based on the three seasons. During "peak" season (June-September) ticket prices are £20.50 for an adult and £16.50 for a child, "mid" season prices are £19.50 (adult) and £15.50 (child) and during winter season (November-March) prices are£18.50 and £15.10. All ticket prices includes a donation to the conservation work done by ZSL therefore if you do not want to pay this you get a 10% reduction. Under 3's go free and a child is classed as from aged 3-15 years.
The zoo has a number of food outlets including a coffee shop, 2 restaurants/ cafes serving hot meals and snacks and there are also a number of food and drinks kiosks located throughout the zoo.
We took the tube to the Zoo. The zoo is located in Regents Park and the nearest stations to the zoo are Camden Town and Regents Park. Camden Town is a 15 minute walk from the zoo and Regents Park is a 20 minute walk. The zoo is signposted from both of the stations but as Camden Town was busy we got distracted and ending up in the wrong direction and got lost!
Buses run from Baker Street, Marble Arch and Victoria to the zoo. The drop off bus stop is about 5 minutes' walk away from the zoo entrance.
If you are driving there is a large car park with coach and car parking spaces. The zoo is outside of the congestion charge zone.
We visited London Zoo is late February during low season. Despite most other attractions in London being as usual very busy we were very surprised at just how quiet London Zoo was. The zoo is very large but by London standards this was unusual, and we were able to walk straight up and pay when we got the ticket desk.
Once we had paid our entrance fee we were set to explore the zoo. Unlike other zoo's you do not get provided with a map free of charge. This is an extra £1 and Mr Lools refused to buy a map because apparently I don't read or choose to follow what the map says anyway. So we were dependent on the large maps located through the park and the many sign posts. Personally I did find navigated through the different areas of the zoo quite difficult. There are lots of different paths off main paths which you take to get to different enclosures and a lot of paths lead you around in circles. The signposts point you in the general direction but often it is not clear what path you take. Therefore on about 10 different occasions we found ourselves walking around in circles especially when we were trying to find the zebras.
The most difficult area to find in our experience was the penguins. We spent 10 minutes lost on a long path and then when we thought we had found the right area we found ourselves heading into a play/ learning area for under5's. The staff member who was responsible for letting people into this children's area looked quite alarmed at two twenty something's heading her way but kindly pointed us in the correct direction of the penguins.
I was very impressed with the range of animals although was surprised that there were no elephants for such a large zoo. I was surprised at just how large the enclosures were and how well kept they were. Obviously this does not make up for the fact the animals are not in their natural habitat and are enclosed but most of the enclosures are large and have indoor/ outdoor areas and are a lot larger than what you see in other zoos. There are information boards next to every enclosure with facts about the animals. Throughout the day there are feeding displays and talks. I was extremely pleased an impressed with how enthusiastic and passionate the staff are about the animals. Not only do they spend time around the enclosures when the talks are taking place we found staff chatting to visitors around the enclosures. When we visited the walk through Rainforest enclosure we spent 10 minutes talking to the staff member in there about the animals (which including a sloth and monkeys). Although you expect the staff to be knowledgeable they really do seem to care about the animals and know a lot about the individual animals and their behaviour.
There are a number of walk through enclosures like this Rainforest Enclosure with monkeys and also in the butterfly house. Obviously the animals can come up to you and you can't control what they do but on the day we visited I felt the animals and design of these areas at London Zoo were a lot more controlled compared to Blackpool and we witnessed no one being chased or jumped on by animals (in particular monkeys).
We visited the zoo on a day when it rained very heavy. The zoo is mainly all outdoors and spaced out therefore take comfortable walking shoes and waterproofs just in case. I do think London Zoo has slightly more indoor areas which included the reptile house, aquarium and butterfly house. We spent longer inside than we did at many zoos and got shelter from the rain therefore. In total we spent 4 hours in the zoo. We would have stayed longer but due to the rain and the fact we had a train to catch to Surrey to visit friends was why we left. For a family there is so much to see and do this could definitely be a "full" day out. Although ticket prices might seem expensive compared to many London attractions you spend so long inside the zoo it is definitely excellent value for money. Even the prices in the restaurant are not excessive and we got 2 hot meals (fish and chips and a chilli jacket potato) and two hot drinks for around £10. Compared to many cafes in London this is reasonable.
It seems every time Mr Lools and I visit a zoo it rains. This was the case when we visited London (and both times we visited Blackpool) but this certainly did not spoil our day at London Zoo. It was a fantastic day out and in the four hours we spent at the zoo definitely worth paying the entrance fee. Once inside of the zoo the prices are not excessive but as you can take a picnic this can work out a value for money way to spend your day in London.
Lots of animals, lots of fun but also lots of walking!
Summary: A great day out for all ages
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