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London Zoo was Europe’s very first facility dedicated to the study and display of wild animals. When it opened in Regent’s Park in 1828 it was spell-bindingly unique, but things have changed somewhat, and these days the zoo is a focus for conservation projects.
History of London Zoo
The grounds that we see today were chiefly designed by Decimus Burton, but the other architects involved include John Belcher, J. Joass and Hugh Casson.
The animals – garnered from the collections at Windsor Castle and the Tower of London – caused an immediate sensation. When the first chimpanzee arrived in 1835, the public went bananas! The first giraffes moved in a year later, and a steady stream of strange creatures followed for fifty years.
London Zoo set a multitude of records in its first half-century of operation: the world’s first Reptile House (1849); the first public Aquarium (1853), and the first insect house (1881). An elephant house and rhinoceros house were added in the 1960s, and a children’s petting zoo in 1995.
Mappin Terrace, and Snowdon Aviary
London Zoo pioneered the idea of showing off animals in their natural habitat. When the Mappin Terrace opened in 1913, it was the first time that members of the public could see animals in an arctic environment.
Giraffes, zebras, okapi and other African grazers can be seen in the Cotton Terraces, and the monkeys, chimpanzees and gorillas are housed near the entrance.
There is also a walk-through aviary – the Snowdon Aviary – and the Moonlight World House for nocturnal creatures.
Animal performances are still a big attraction, and you should remember to check the feeding times to make sure you don’t miss the Animals in Action show. If you want to learn about the world’s ecosystem, then get a ticket for the Web of Life. This contains 60 animal exhibits ranging from ants, termites and jellyfish, to flying birds and stinging bees.
SarahCroft – “a bit disappointng, to be honest. it was very expensive to get in and our group spent about 70 pounds on entrance fees alone. for that kind of money we could have had a day out in Chessington World of Adventures which also has a few animals and rollercoaster rides which my kids would have preferred. But because London Zoo is such a famous attraction and we'd never been there before we decided to take them there instead. a lot of the exhibits were completley empty. The aquarium was closed and the gorillas were missing, maybe they were on holiday. And we couldn't see anything in a lot of the reptile tanks despite being with a boy with the eagle-ist eyes of anyone in the world! I know that they have to do maintenaince sometimes, and october is probably a good time to do it because its out of the tourist season. But when you spend close to £20 each getting in, you expect to see some animals!.”
josh – “I've been to lots of zoos all around the world and this one is pretty poor, to be honest. It is way too much money for what you get to see. it's seems to be all about the conservation side of things, which is very noble, but they need to remember that they are also there to entertain people. i dont want to be bombarded with PC nonsense telling me about doctors feeding monkeys with pipettes. i want to actually see the monkeys in the exhibit! I know it's winter and i probably went at the wrong time of year, but half the exhibits seemed to be undergoing maintenance so you couldn't see anything. maybe i'll go back in the summer, or maybe i won't. there probably wasn't enough there to make me want to go back, to be honest.”