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London Zoo | Review | Visiting London Zoo

Last Updated 08/11/2022.

London Zoo is one of the best zoos in the world, we think. Is London Zoo worth visiting? Yes. Is it a good zoo for kids? Also yes. Find out what makes London Zoo so good in our review and guide. London’s Zoo in The Regent’s Park is well worth visiting!

London Zoo
London Zoo. Why it’s absolutely worth visiting, particularly with kids.

London Zoo

A travel blogger friend asked me if I thought she should visit London Zoo on her trip to the UK and England. The short answer was yes, it’s awesome, but the long answer takes a bit more explaining.

I’m an animal lover and a scientist, my degree is in zoology and I adore good zoos. We’ve visited most of the best zoos in the world and I consider London one of the very best.

When my kids were small we practically lived at London Zoo, every weekend, all year round because we were members and season ticket holders. London Zoo is a great zoo.

Become Members of ZSL Here. Great For Families!

Some people think zoos are there to entertain heartless humans lacking in compassion for caged wild creatures. That’s not the case, it hasn’t been for a long time now. What you will find at ZSL London Zoo is a million miles from the animals-as-entertainment facilities that I vaguely remember from early childhood.

Our London Zoo blog is a review, a guide, and a look at what is there to do and see at London Zoo.

Here are my best reasons to visit London Zoo. I really think you should. Over the years various new features open at the zoo. On our last visit they’d just made it possible to sleep overnight at the zoo, find out more about that here.

Visiting London Zoo Gorillas

This post is about our visits to London Zoo. Attractions, special features, and zoo babies do change all the time, so when you book your tickets and time slot (Book Admission Here), just check for anything that may be closed or is new at the Zoo.

London Zoo History

Giraffe house London zoo
Since 1835 Decimus Burton’s giraffe house at London Zoo ZSL, has been occupied by the animals it was built for. There are additions and wartime repairs, but it’s one of the few buildings still used for its original purpose. Please hover to pin to Pinterest.

ZSL, the Zoological Society of London, was founded in 1826 by Sir Stamford Raffles. London Zoo opened in 1827 and was an architectural masterpiece. Many of those original buildings remain, now repurposed. The ZSL London Zoo site contains two Grade I and eight Grade II listed buildings, modern additions to the zoo are similarly magnificent. You can read more about the architectural treasures of ZSL London Zoo here.

The Old Elephant House Visiting London Zoo

London Zoo, Diversity of Animals

There are at times, almost 17,000 creatures at the zoo representing over 700 species, all beautifully cared for and displayed to maximise our enjoyment and learning whilst maintaining a natural and enriching environment for the residents.

Animal Enrichment Visiting London Zoo

I have two sons, one loves mammals and goes all gooey over meerkats, the other thinks arthropods, arachnids particularly, are beautiful. Both were more than happy at ZSL London Zoo.

London Zoo, Getting Close to the Animals

London is one of the best zoos I know for getting close to the animals. There are no bars or cages in the Rainforest Wild exhibit, the walkthrough Meet the Monkeys enclosure, the new lemur walk-through, nor in several bird enclosures.

This gorgeous tamandua was going for a wander yesterday while staff looked on to make sure the animals weren’t hurt or distressed in any way.

If you are totally insane there was even a walk-through spider enclosure. No thanks!

Rainforest Reserve Visiting London Zoo

London also has ways of not just getting you close to the animals, but making you feel what it’s like to BE an animal. The kid-sized meerkat tunnels are fantastic.

Visiting London Zoo With Kids Aaadvarks Tunnels

London Zoo’s Keeper For The Day and Junior Keeper For the Day

London Zoo meet the meerkats
My kids, meeting the meerkats, they absolutely loved this. Keeper for the day would be a dream come true for many kids and adults. What a great gift to give a loved one!

If you’re a child or adult who wants to find out much more about the workings of the zoo and get a lot closer to the animals, ZSL’s Keeper for the day programmes are for you. Find out more and book here, direct with London Zoo. There is limited availability, so lock in your place.

The keeper for a day programme is high on our must-do list and I’ve just discovered that Whipsnade offers you a similar experience (see here) and a chance to spend a night with the rhinos at its Lookout Lodge. Something else to investigate!

We have taken, and loved the “Meet the Meerkats” experience. As a special birthday treat for a meerkat lover, this is well worth the extra expense.

London Zoo’s Conservation Work

Conservation of animals and their habitats is the driving force behind ZSL’s work. They run conservation projects in over 50 countries worldwide and act as an advisory body in conservation issues. This is what ZSL is all about.

David Attenborough Visit London Zoo

Your admission fee helps fund these projects and you will see conservation in action at the zoo.

Yesterday we saw three baby Sumatran tigers. There are only around 300 left in the wild.

The gorgeous furry creatures get all the attention but the less glamorous species are also fully represented.

Visit London Zoo Tiger Breeding

London Zoo ZSL is Actually Two Zoos

ZSL has the London Zoo, Regent’s Park, site and Whipsnade Zoo, the UK’s biggest zoo just north of London. The bigger animals are out at Whipsnade these days, they have an amazing view of the Chiltern Hills and open grassy enclosures. Whipsnade is well worth a visit.

London Zoo ZSL is a Charity

The zoo and its work deserves your support, by visiting you are helping to fund international animal and habitat conservation. You can donate to ZSL here.

London Zoo’s Amazing Staff to Answer Your Questions

My kids are always bursting with questions, it’s really easy to find a member of staff to talk to, keepers and volunteers seem to be everywhere and are usually happy to give you their time.

Thank you for answering the boys’ questions yesterday, particularly the young woman feeding the macaques. D wanted to know if they were apes or tail-less monkeys, she got one to turn around and show him his tail stump. Thanks too to the volunteer who chatted to us about Sumatran tigers with such enthusiasm and obvious love for animals. You rock!

Places for Kids to Play at London Zoo

The ZSL London Zoo features several incredible and imaginative play facilities for children of all ages. That sounds clichéd, but tiny tots will enjoy the adventure play areas and water play fountains while big kids can take on more challenging play installations. London Zoo with kids, and indeed London with kids, comes highly recommended by our team.

Playgrounds for Kids at London Zoo

London Zoo and Education

Education is, of course, part of conservation, but for those of us on a mission to give our children the best education the world can offer, this is it, it doesn’t get much better. London zoo can offer your kids so much learning that you need to go many, many times to take it all in. This place is just bursting with learning opportunities. Is London Zoo educational? Absolutely yes. It is an incredible place to learn biology, zoology and conservation.

Books to Read About London Zoo

I own these two books and I love them with a passion, they are seriously good books that I wanted to share.

The Tower  Menagerie This book has little to do with the zoo. It’s about the 600-year history of exotic animal keeping at the Tower of London. Did you know they once had a polar bear tethered on the banks of the Thames? You can find this book here.

London Zoo From Old Photographs The buildings, the famous animals, the keepers and the way the zoo has changed over the years. London Zoo from Old Photographs 1852-1914 can be hard to get. It and other books on the zoo are on this page.

We have a post about various hotels, hostels and apartments we have used in London recently (several years ago now) for ultra-budget short family stays, it gives you an idea of what to expect at this price point. London is expensive, as is the zoo, but thankfully there are heaps of free things to do in London so you can save elsewhere.

London Zoo And Other World Zoos

We have visited many zoos all over the world ( Singapore, Taronga, San Diego, Bangkok, Chiang Mai and more), some are good, some are bad. We tend not to visit those we expect to be inhumane. London remains our favourite and, in our opinion, the best zoo in the world. World Travel Family visited ZSL London Zoo as guests on this occasion, but all opinions are 100% our own. I’ve loved London Zoo since I was a child and have been a member of ZSL for many years. Back to our main London Family Travel Blog page. Back to our main UK Travel Blog page.

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Jessica

Saturday 24th of January 2015

Great post, thanks a lot! Just wanted to let you know that your links to the two books aren't working though.

Victoria

Tuesday 10th of June 2014

Totally agree Alyson. Zoos are amazing and I never get tired of them. How else can children. And adults, learn about animals from stranger parts. We're lucky that we have two zoos in Berlin, a very impressive aquarium, a tropical world and a botanical garden. Thanks for sharing!

alyson@worldtravelfamily

Tuesday 10th of June 2014

Thanks Victoria! London as a sensational Aquarium too, we'll be heading there very soon, it's near the London Eye ( also awesome) on the South bank.

sarah

Sunday 8th of June 2014

You should visit Soctra Island in Yemen, I imagine its your kind of cup of tea !

Gabi (The Nomadic Family)

Sunday 8th of June 2014

what an awesome post! love it. clearly, i will be going to the london zoo when we go. eally really do diverse and such a well-planned, fascinating informal education. thanks aylson! love following your adventures. gabi

Erin

Sunday 8th of June 2014

I have never been to london zoo, city zoos usually put me off, but I think this looks fabulous! Great write up.

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