Have you ever wondered what happens at ZSL London Zoo when the sun goes down? Once all the visitors have left and the night zookeepers are the only ones wandering around, the zoo is pretty much animal territory once again. Thousands of different animal species from all over the world call London Zoo their home. Opened in 1828, initially only with scientific and educational study purposes, London Zoo receives hundreds of visitors each day. Tourists, parents and their kids, hopeless animal lovers, school trips (loads of kids), researchers, more kids…
The zoo is only for kids yeah? Wrong. As a self-sufficient adult (midlife crisis approaching), I’ve always found zoos quite fascinating and educational. They provide answers to wildlife’s most important questions. Do platypuses sweat milk? How do different species make babies? What are baby goats called? You know, all the interesting stuff. During the summer, ZSL London Zoo offers the opportunity to learn all about fauna in the most excellent Friday night plan, Zoo Nights. And yes, you guessed it, it’s ADULTS ONLY (sorry kids). Get ready to explore the secrets behind the zoo’s doors after hours, with loads of entertainment, delicious food and of course, wildlife without the horde of children and crowds of school trips! I obvioulsy had to add this to my Ultimate London Bucket List.
Are you ready for a late night safari?
I haven’t told you all about Zoo Nights yet. Every Friday night in June and July, London Zoo becomes almost unrecognisable. From 6pm to 10pm, pretty carnival lights, music, stilt walkers and acrobats dressed as animals fill the Barclay Court, where the main square and carousel are. Apart from the obvious animal exhibitions, an array of activities are also open to the public. Get ready for a Transformation Centre with animal face painting, Wild Yoga where you can learn about animal named poses, Stand Up Comedy and even a Superhero Trail where you can discover the unique skills of each animal!
A variety of Themed Animal Live Talks and Pop-Ups are also available throughout the evening: Curious Coatis, Prickly Porcupines, Giraffes Supper Time…they get better and better! Want to learn what happens between the sheets of the animal kingdom? Then make sure you join the Birds and the Bees tour. And if you want to test your knowledge and expertise in wildlife, take part of the Zooniversity Challenge.
For the hungry ones, don’t worry. Just head over to the World Food Market and try some of the best delights from all over the world at the different food stalls (vegan and veggie options available). PS: don’t forget to pet the goats first because – One. They are super cute. And two. How can you resist not doing it as soon as you enter the zoo?
ZSL Zoo Nights is an excellent way to educate ourselves about wildlife while having a fun night. Of course, the whole of the zoo is now yours so make sure you make the most of it. The Reptile House, Aquarium, the Rain Forest, Into Africa, Tiger Territory, B.U.G.S., Penguin Beach, Land of the Lions…they are all awaiting you! However, keep in mind the animals also have their bedtimes, of course. All exhibitions close between 8.30pm and 9.30pm, with the exception of the Gorilla Kingdom, which is closed all evening due to two lil’ baby gorillas.
With more than a hundred species listed as threatened in the Red Data Book, ZSL London Zoo follows excellent conservation initiatives, both in and out of their doors. Inside, penguins, giraffes, pygmy hippos, okapis, rain-forest animals including sloths (and a lil’ baby one!), monkeys, birds, bats, lemurs…are offered good space and habitat to live in. They are bred in captivity and not caught in the wild, making it also a great way to keep them safe from poachers in the wild. Outside, their charity and projects address different wildlife-human problems, focusing on protecting endangered species and forests.
Get to know more about the different species by becoming a Keeper for a Day, being part of the Photography Workshops or even booking one of the different Meet the Animals experiences. For the Night Owls, keep you eyes peeled. There is a competition to win a Meet the Animals experience by tweeting or instagramming your Zoo Nights pictures and tagging @ZSLLondonZoo and #ZSLZooNights! And guess what…WE ACTUALLY WON!
What’s your favourite animal? Have you been to Zoo Nights before? Tell us all about it in the comments below!
ZSL London Zoo | Regent’s Park, NW1 4RY, London, UK
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