Battersea Park Children's Zoo review
I'm normally a bit of a cynic when I see a sign like "Children's Zoo". I just assume that it's a cheapo zoo. A zoo with no animals in it. A zoo where they've taken out all the lions and tigers and elephants, and replaced them with a load of pigs and chickens and swings and slides. That is what I was expecting this morning as I was walking over the Albert Bridge. I thought it would be a quick half hour looking at the sheep with three thousand hyperactive school kids tearing around the place screaming their heads off, and then back into town for something to eat. So I wasn't expecting much of Battersea Park Children's Zoo.
My hopes were kindled a little as soon as I entered the gate, because the first thing you see is a big monkey cage. I couldn't find any monkeys in it though. Maybe they were having a lie-in or something, because they refused to show their hairy little faces. I even made some ooh-ooh noises to tempt them out, but to no avail. And that is the big problem with zoos. It's the same thing with London Zoo too -- half of the animals in them don't want to do anything. Presumably they get paid a lot of peanuts and bananas to put on a show for the punters, but they are taking us for a ride. They are lazy. They don't do anything. If it was up to me then I would sack the lot of them. There are plenty more monkeys in the jungle who would love to be locked up in London in a little 10-foot by 10-foot cell, I would tell them. So shape up or ship out!
In the centre of the zoo is a big grass enclosure with a couple of miniature little nissan huts in it (that's what they looked like to me anyway -- those places where they parked spitfires in the war). I stood there for two minutes scanning the scene for enemy animals, until eventually one decided to poke his head out of the door -- a wallaby. Or maybe it was a kangaroo. It was definitely something with big feet anyway. He didn't do much hopping around or jumping up and down, he just sat still and slept. He didn't even move when the zoo-keeper tipped a load of food into his pen. So there's another one getting paid to sit around all day doing nothing. Sack him! Put him on the first boat back to Australia.
The only animal that actually engaged me in conversation was in a paddock full of emus (those birds with big necks). One of them tried to stare me out and followed me around the fence, strutting his stuff, but I was equal to the challenge. I stared at that sucker for five minutes until eventually he had to admit defeat and skulk away. The only other "zoo-like" animal they've got is a meerkat (those little skinny guys that sell insurance on TV). They stand up on their hind-legs at the faintest gust of wind, to see what danger is stalking around the corner. They always strike me as being the most paranoid animal on earth, forever looking out for dangers that don't exist. They are quite cute I suppose. But apparently they can rip your head off in two seconds flat. If you stumbled into the meerkat enclosure by mistake then you are basically dead -- they will strip your skin like a pack of piranhas until all that is left is a pair of dry eyeballs. That is what someone told me down the pub anyway.
The rest of the animals on display are pretty tame. In London Zoo they've got penguins and flamingos, but in here they've got ducks. London Zoo's got lions and tigers, in here it's two fat pigs and some ponies. They've even got a pen full of rabbits -- the same kind that you might find in a pet shop. I reckon they caught half their animals from the park next-door — there's a load of squirrels and ducks, all caged up, whilst their mates roam free on the other side of the fence. They've got some shrews and some guinea pigs too.
The rest of the zoo is filled with kiddie swings and slides, and a couple of cafes for a drink. It's not the biggest place in the world, and you'll probably be done inside an hour.
So... is it worth checking out? Well, it's not something that I'd recommend for tourists -- they are definitely better off going to London Zoo. But if you've got some restless toddlers or children of primary school age who are stuck for something to do during half-term, then you can probably wile away an hour or two here quite happily. It's definitely one for the little kids though -- if you drag any teenagers along then you'll embarrass the hell out of them and they won't talk to you for weeks.
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