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We're going to the zoo! Can I go to the loo??
Member Name: MsTricia
Date: 15/08/12, updated on 15/08/12 (317 review reads)
Advantages: lots of great animals, and lots to do to keep the kids entertained
Disadvantages: expensive to buy food here and not enough toilets!
So last week wednesday was my daughter's 3rd birthday (gosh, where did the time go?) and so I decided from a while ago that her treat was to go to the zoo. She loves animals, especially pointing them out to me everywhere we go so I knew this would be an ideal birthday treat for her!
***Where Is The Zoo?***
London Zoo is located in Camden in North West London. Being money cautious we didn't drive to the zoo as it would mean we would have to go through congestion charge (I don't even know how much this costs anymore, can't be more than a tenner right?!) and also pay a whopping £14.50 for parking in their car park! There was a large group of us, so this would mean travelling in 3 cars and so as only 2 of us adults were driver, this was a no-no so we hopped on the tube. Exiting Camden tube station, literally cross the road, and walk straight past a small road of shops and restaurants, until there is a big sign to direct to go right at a large set of traffic lights. We followed the signs and walked for what seemed like forever! I would say for us it was a good 20 minute walk to the actual entrance of the zoo, which when you have 6 excitable kids all wanting to see the gorillas and asking "are we there yet?" this is a long duration of walking from the tube station to the zoo! Nevertheless, getting there is easy enough and is clearly signposted so you won't get lost.
Altogether we had 5 adults and 6 kids. Under 3's are free entry (my daughter just turned 3 that day so I was going to be cheeky and get her in, not paying for her!) and so we had 3 kids under free (a 1 year old, a 2 year old and my daughter who was 2 years and 365 days old lol!) that we did not pay for and 3 kids over 3 (aged 5,6 and 11) who each cost £15.45. Personally I think under 5 year olds should be free, but nevertheless I could not quarrel as I know the zoo needs a good income to maintain it as it does not receive any government help/funding (at least that's what an employee at the zoo told me anyway!) Adults entry into the zoo cost £20.90.
Looking to try and save a few pennies, only groups of 10 paying people apply for 20% ticket prices. As we did not have 10 paying people, the only deal I could salvage was 10% off 2 paying adults and 2 kids. This saved us about 7 quid, but at time of writing this review, this deal was only available online. Nonetheless, we bought all our tickets online and these are the prices without the option of a donation to the zoo:
Senior = £19.09
Student = £19.09
Child = £15.45
Disabled Child =£15.45
Disabled Adult = £19.09
Under 3 = £0.00
If buying a disabled child's ticket the carer enters for free and so if buying tickets online, still click on the adult ticket and enter promotional code 1001 to get the fee deducted for the paying adult. It should be remembered, just because you don't pay for under 3's you still need to book them a ticket and print off (if buying tickets before hand) as if you don't you'll still have to line up when you reach the zoo!
***At The Zoo***
When we finally reached we were happy to be in the fast track line as we already had our tickets so we had a nice speedy entrance. Hoorah we made it! First stop...where are the toilets??
Toilets were quite a nightmare. With a 2 year old and a 3 year old with the bladder the size of a rice grain and the heat meaning they were drinking quite a lot we found we needed toilet trips quite often. The only toilets we came across were when we first entered, they were about a 2 minute walk into the zoo past the gorillas. We initially ended up in the mens as it was a lot closer and the kids were bursting but after a lot of turning the zoo map upside down, sideways, trying to figure out where we were and then where the loo's were we eventually found it! The next set of toilets we found was about 3 hours into zoo time and near where the giraffe's were caged. Which of course smelt just lovely lol. So about 4 times between these 2 toilet visits my daughter just used a travel potty. One of the occasions was even to do a poo....how lovely. Was starting to think she would have been at home in the zoo!
Anyway, now the toilet routine had been completed it was time to start enjoying the zoo! Our first adventure was the reptile house!!
The reptile house was a lot of fun for all the kids as there were a range of snakes, lizards, komodo dragons and frogs etc. At the time we actually got here it was about 1.30pm and so sadly all the snakes were sleeping and a lot of the reptiles were snoozing in the deepest darkest corners of their habitat so was more a game of trying to find where the animals were more than anything! There were some swimming turtles that my daughter enjoyed watching and with all the large lizards and chameleons she would shout "mummy it's a dinosaur!" haha! It was too cute but a really fun interactive experience.
~ Gorilla Kingdom
Next up was the gorillas and monkeys. To get in, you had to go through a door made out of thick sheets of plastic and pass through some cute colourful birds flying around. In the gorilla kingdom there were also a variety of monkeys all flying around, fighting each other and leaping from tree to tree which all the kids found to be so amusing! The gorillas were a big attraction for all the kids, there were 3 in total, not doing much, simply sitting swinging on a tyre or on a tree trunk being very relaxed. There are clear signs not to bang on the glass as this makes the gorilla's aggressive and all the people and kids included were good sports and simply viewed the gorillas. Photographs were allowed just no flash photography as this too may agitate the animals. They were beautiful creatures to look at, especially as I don't remember seeing a gorilla before and I was genuinely amazed at how similar to humans they actually are.
~ Deadly Birds Live
Roll onto 2.30pm and about an hour into our zoo trip we were tired and hungry haha! We sat on some benches and being organised mummy I had brought drinks, crisps, chocolate, sandwiches, chicken everything so we all stopped for the kids to have a munch. Timing as it would be, on the grassy area next to us it was time for the Bird show! There was a demonstration of eagles as they flew around the crowd but always to a trained member of the zoo team. The kids were excited and amazed at the skill of the bird and I was interested to listen to the design, why it is called a bald eagle (I'm not telling you here you have to go to the zoo and find out for yourself!) and how they hunt for food. There was also another bird that looked like a deranged chicken when it ran but could jump about 10 feet high, a pity I cannot remember the name of it now! But still, this show was really good!
~ Big Cats
This was one of the kids favourite things to see, and mine too if I'm honest! Boringly enough the lions were asleep, but the tigers were awake so was amazing to see them move around with such poise and finesse. I had both before when I went to a safari aged about 10 years old (long time ago now haha!) so was amazing to see them again. Of course they are caged quite far away, but could still get a good enough visual to see them and the children had great fun imitating a tiger roaaaarr!!!
~ Into Africa
On the map it seemed situated on the opposite side of the road but we actually found this segment in the main area of the zoo. There were hunting dogs, who were rabidly eating at a fresh carcass of an animal (eeew! but guess that's the circle of life!) which the kids seemed very interested to watch lol. The animal I had wanted to see all day was the giraffe and here they were! Tall and elegant they were a beauty to watch and so amazing to see in real life! There was a bridge to stand on for a close up view of the giraffes, but as their space was so large sadly they did not come close enough to be touched (even though I am sure they would not want this!) but I was happy to stand and stare at them for a good 10 minutes. The zebras were next to them and all seemed disinterested, as they were all well hidden amongst some trees so I could not get a good enough picture which was disappointing but my daughter still took pride in showing me these animals as I reminded her that yes I could see them too!
~ Petting the Donkey
Leaving the African segment we passed back where the deadly bird show was earlier and there was a small event where you could pet the donkey. Of course instigated by me, the kids were all eager to do this and so off we went. The donkey was extremely well behaved and the kids loved stroking the donkey. The zoo keeper holding him on a lead reminded us to only stroke his head and neck or side, and to steer clear of the back end as the donkey often kicked his legs up or stood on feet without realising so we kept this in mind and the donkey (and kids too!) was good as gold. My daughter didn't want to let him go! But as other kids had to have a turn we reluctantly left him alone haha.
This was right back by the front entrance of the zoo and the main game in here was....can you find nemo?? There were loads of sea creatures like jelly fish, piranhas, crabs, big fish and small fish. They were all very colourful and the kids loved finding nemo and dorie, however once this was achieved they all quickly lost interest in the fish and was a swift exit after that lol.
~ Bouncy Castle
Since spotting it about 3 hours earlier, all the big kids wanted to do was go on the bouncy castle. Who comes to the zoo just for this? So after holding them off for some time (and the main reason they wanted to leave the aquarium so quickly!) this was the next main event. Costing £1.50 for 5 minutes (yes cinco minutos!) 4 of the kids trotted off, and the 2 littlest ones stayed behind giving us adults a few minutes of peace and quiet. Phew!
The penguins were a bit boring as we had missed the morning show of diving with the penguins. There were probably about 40 penguins pretty much standing around doing nothing, and I felt quite sorry for them as they didn't seem to have much to do! Maybe I could get them a part time job at sainsburys, they seemed like they needed a hobby lol. So we literally popped in here for about 30 seconds and as the day was getting on we decided to leave them alone.
~ Butterfly Paradise
To see the butterflies meant going into a pod like building which was very hot and humid like a tropical climate. In here was an array of plants and trees which were to imitate these butterflies natural habitat and they were beautifully fluttering all over the place. Anyone with a phobia of insects will probably hate this as they literally are flying around on their own whim but I loved seeing all the different patterns and designs on their wings and watching their movement.
So it's now 5pm the kids are a bit restless, so me and my cousin only took 3 of the kids to the Bug house. In here there was a range of different bugs and creatures which seemed the zoo wanted to display but had run out of ideas where to put them lol! There were ants, bees, tarantulas (ahh!), grasshoppers, crickets, a rat (which was HUGE!) a mouse, some jellyfish and even a sponge (like spongebob square pants hehe!). I would definitely think this building was more suited to older kids as my daughter who is 3 wasn't understanding too much but was interested enough to see what all the different animals were.
There was a little playground where the other kids who didn't come to see the Bugs were playing, which had a slide, climbing frame etc to keep the kids entertained which was fun. Leaving the zoo was close from here, but they are crafty to make us have to walk through the gift shop to leave! Souvenirs in here were very expensive, but had things like cups, plates, t-shirts, keyrings and stuffed animals. Lucky for us, the kids were worn out and tired and had no interest in none of these things and were all ready to go home!
There were a few animals we didn't get to see sadly, like Reindeer, Otters, Lemurs, Meerkats, Fruit Bats and the Peacocks as these were across the road, and as we got to the zoo quite late we ran out of time.
Food and drink at the zoo, a 500ml bottle of ribena or coke cost £1.85 (yikes!) so we did not buy any food here. The most was treating the kids each to an ice cream which was quite small and itself was £1.50 but not too bad. There is an Oasis Restaurant for people wanting to eat in for lunch but food is obviously around £5 per person. Dotted around the place were hot dog stands with chips and burgers so food is accessible but looking to keep costs down we did not take advantage of this.
London Zoo also has an app for those tech savvy people who can buy tickets online and use this as a tool to navigate around the zoo and keep up to date with goings on. For example there is a new Tiger Territory opening in 2013 and the reptile house was under temporary construction at the time we visited.
The following info is from the website....
21 July - 2 September: 10.00 - 18.00
3 September - 27 October: 10.00 -17.30
ZSL London Zoo is open every day of the year except Christmas Day. Last admission is one hour before advertised closing time. Children under 16 will not be admitted without an adult.
ZSL London Zoo
Tel: 020 7722 3333
Fax: 020 7586 5743
To sum up we had a lovely day at London Zoo and I would definitely recommend it! It is very user friendly, as it caters for disabled there were ramps everywhere so us with 2 pushchairs could easily navigate about and enter all the different buildings. Staff were friendly and knowledgeable whenever we asked questions which was a big plus. My only gripe is that there are only 4 toilets in the whole zoo and they are situated quite far apart, which meant we were constantly crouched in a bush with the little ones and a travel potty! Nonetheless I would definitely recommend this zoo, even for the price we paid as we had a fantastic day out and my daughter thoroughly enjoyed her birthday!
Summary: an amazing day out, will recommend to everyone!
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