London is full of surprises, including the world’s oldest scientific zoo. A visit to the London Zoo will guarantee seeing and learning about exotic animals, all without ever having to leave the city! Continue reading for some London Top Sights tips on how to have a great visit.
Opened in London on 27 April 1828, The London Zoo was originally intended to be used as a collection for scientific study. In 1831, the animals of the Tower of London menagerie were transferred to the zoo’s collection. It was eventually opened to the public in 1847. Today, it houses a collection of 698 species of animals, with 20,166 individuals, making it one of the largest collections in the United Kingdom.
At the London zoo, visitors have a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the animals . There are no bars or cages in the Rainforest Wild exhibit, the walk through Meet the Monkeys enclosure, the new lemur walk-through, nor in several bird enclosures. Some of the best sites to see are:
Listed telephone box
There are a number of listed buildings around the ZSL site in Regent’s Park, one of the most peculiar being the traditional telephone box at Penguin Beach, which is in fact Grade I listed. Other notable listed buildings include the old penguin pool designed by architect Berthold Lubetkin.
Guy the gorilla
The gorilla statue at the entrance to ZSL London Zoo is a tribute to one of our most famous residents, Guy. The Western lowland gorilla arrived at the Zoo on Guy Fawkes Night, hence his name, and became something of a celebrity, attracting thousands of visitors to the Zoo between 1947 and 1978. Despite Western lowland gorillas being the world’s largest primates, Guy was a gentle giant and would cradle birds that had flown into his enclosure in his hands before setting them free again.
Lake Oku clawed frog breeding
ZSL London Zoo was the first place in the world to breed the critically endangered Lake Oku clawed frog in 2014, allowing keepers to gain crucial insights not only into the requirements of the adult frogs but also their tadpoles. Prior to breeding at ZSL, none of this had ever been seen in zoos or the wild. Now that the reproductive biology is known, we can feed this information into conservation management species in Cameroon.
Casson elephant house
The roof of the old Casson elephant house depicts a herd of elephants drinking from a watering hole. Designed by Sir Hugh Casson, it opened its doors in 1965. ZSL’s elephants were originally housed here before being moved to their new home in the countryside at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. This is also one of the listed buildings at ZSLLondon Zoo.