13 November 2015

London with toddlers: ZSL London Zoo

The London Zoo has been one of the London attractions that I have wanted to visit for years. I just never found the time. Now however, with an animal loving daughter I decided it would finally be time to stump up for the tickets and go see it. I thought I'd share my experience of the London Zoo with you, with a few top tips on how to get the most out of it with toddlers and older kids. 


szl london zoo with toddlers map

szl london zoo pelicans

 
szl london zoo with toddlers tiger



I was quite excited about seeing the London Zoo, and my toddler seemed to share my enthusiasm. True toddler style though, she fell asleep almost as soon as we stepped inside the gates...

OK, before the land of nod called, we did manage to whizz through the aquarium, the gorilla enclosure, see penguins fed, and pink flamingos. Quick snack later she was out cold, loaded to a baby carrier and off I went exploring on my own, two stones strapped to my back. That was my exercise for the day!

I then huffed and puffed my way through a Rainforest talk, lemur enclosure, and the Africa area. Once we got to see the tigers my sleeping beauty rose up and sleepily called out 'Taigaa, rawr'. Bless.


szl london zoo with toddlers meeting penguins penguin beach

szl london zoo with toddlers meeting penguins penguin beach

szl london zoo with toddlers meeting penguins penguin beach

szl london zoo with toddlers meeting penguins penguin beach


We then quickly saw some camels, and walked through monkey enclosure and a butterfly tunnel, and left via the gift shop to meet a friend in town. Our favourite bits were the lemur enclosure, monkey enclosure, butterfly tunnel and the penguins, as you get to come so close to the animals it feels unreal. The great big butterflies, the scurrying little monkeys, and inquisitive penguins. Just incredible.  We have to go back next year, when my daughter will hopefully find it even more fun, and will hopefully not fall asleep midway through! 


szl london zoo with toddlers into africa signs

szl london zoo with toddlers giraffe feeding time



Top tips for visiting:
  • Under 3's go free!
  • Best weather to arrive - as long as it's not raining!  I had a chat with one of the zookeepers, and apparently the animals aren't too bothered whether it is hot or freezing cold, but when it is raining you'll be less likely to see them as they go indoors. 
  • If it is raining, don't despair. There are plenty of indoor areas, like bugs and an aquarium. 
  • Check out current events online - the Zoo does a lot of seasonal workshops and fun little things, like a Santa's Grotto. 
  • Camden Town is the closest station, but entrance over the weekend is a pain. You may have to walk down the winding stairs, so consider using another station. 

szl london zoo with toddlers camels



Top tips in the zoo:
  • You can hire a buggy. Get one for the little ones! You have to cover a fair bit of ground at the Zoo, likelihood is a toddler will get tired, and you will get tired of carrying them...
  • Plan your day - check out the map and the feeding times of different animals for a fun little experience and guaranteed animal viewing.
  • Be mindful of little wandering hands - in some of the enclosures like Lemur and monkey enclosures the animals can come very very close to you and are irresistibly fluffy for some toddler. 
  • Definitely visit the Lemur and monkey enclosures - it is quite incredible when they run above you on ropes and creep very very close to you. 
  • Visit the penguins outside the feeding time and get up close to the glass. Less people and you will usually get an inquisitive and fish-seeking penguin coming to check you out. 
  • Butterfly tunnel was amazing - you get to see great big butterflies everywhere. Quite magical. Your glasses and lenses will steam though so don't expect to take great pictures! 

szl london zoo with toddlers meeting monkeys clombing on a rope


Top tips for after the visit:
  • If you want to get something from the gift shop, and adopted animal is a great option. Helps London Zoo keep up its conservation work.
  • If you fancy a bit more sightseeing Regents Park is a lovely place to visit with kids, or walk alongside the Regents Canals. 

Have you been to the London Zoo? What would your top tips be?




28 comments:

  1. I've never been to London Zoo - was meant to go for a couple of work meetings but for some reason didn't. Handy having the carrier with you. I love the penguin photos - so sweet to have the penguin come right over

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    1. The penguins were so much fun! They kept on coming over to have a look and would follow your hand. I think they were fishing for snacks :D definitely visit if you ever get the chance :)

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  2. I still remember visiting London Zoo when I was about 6 years old, I don't think I've been back since but I remember it being a huge treat and a sunny summer's day. I like the dry weather tip that does make sense that rain would send the animals inside, it does the same here on the farm, I think you are definitely in for a follow up visit for all the bits your daughter missed snoozing, she does look very comfy strapped to you though! Thank you so much for sharing your visit on Country Kids

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    1. Ha ha definitely, I think I will need to visit it soon again! I think we might try to do another visit before she turns three, I wt she would love it even more once she is a few months older. I guess you have enough animals now not to be needing to visit any zoos, probably not the first place you would fancy going on your day out! :) thanks for hosting!

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  3. I haven't been to London Zoo for years! I suspect we didn't even do half of it on that trip either :) Sounds like you had a fun day, and you got some wonderful photos. Like the sound of the butterfly tunnel. #countrykids

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    1. It is huge! I think you would have to spend there the whole day if you wanted to visit everything, there are so many different things. It is a lot of walking as well, I was knackered by the end!

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  4. Despite having lived close to London for 10 years now, I've not yet managed a trip to London Zoo although it is on my mental wish-list. Looks like you had a lovely day out - the butterfly tunnel sounds amazing and love the photos with the penguins. That sleepy 'Taigaa, rawr' is just adorable - hopefully you will get to visit again so your daughter can see the bits she missed! Good tips about being able to hire a buggy too - that's very useful to know.

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    1. You really should visit, if it isn't too far for you! It was a lot of fun, and so many great things to see. I will probably have to re-visit though due to the sleeping monster :D

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  5. Despite living in London and having an animal - mad daughter, I still haven't managed to get to the zoo. I fully intended to before she turned three and never got round to it! Really must go before she starts school - good tips about the rain. #countrykids

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    1. And a second quick reply to say thanks for linking up to #citytripping too!

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    2. Definitely go! It is a brilliant place to visit with kids, whether little or small :) i am already planning for a second visit! The tickets are quite pricey, so maybe once a year only :) Thanks for hosting btw!

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  6. We have been to London ZSL once and found it lots of fun, even though mine are much older.We loved the tigers and penguins the most.We were fascinated by the Atlas moths in the butterfly tunnel,I think I could quite easily stay in there all day.

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    1. Penguins were so much fun! So cheeky and inquisitive, it was a joy to be around them :) Natural History Museum also has a similar butterfly tunnel in the summer - I've been to one before and it is very interesting.

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  7. We've been meaning to go here for ages too - looks great! #CountryKids

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    1. Go go :) Now here are a few tips too to make the most of it :)

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  8. I haven't been in years but will get around to taking my girls now we live closer to London x

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    1. I bet they would absolutely love it - they are at a right age too where they can learn a lot out of the experience!

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  9. What beautiful pictures! We took our littles there on our last London visit and just loved it. Zoos are always such a great outing with the kids. Thanks for sharing. #CountryKids

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    1. I remember as a kid zoos were always very interesting - haven't been much since though :) Looking forward to visiting it again with my daughter!

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  10. I wrote about London Zoo this week too! We had a trip over half term with my 4 y/o and 18 month old. We didn't really have a plan and just let the 4 y/o set the pace. We avoided the Halloween activities just because we had already had quite a Halloween-y week and I wanted to see more animals. The Children's Zoo looked great though and I wished we had had more time to spent there. Missed the monkeys and lemurs so will definitely aim to see those next time (we loved the lemurs at Whipsnade). We ate in the restaurant - the food was lovely though (obviously) pricey. You're tips are great - I had no idea you could hire a buggy.
    #CountryKids

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    1. Oh yes, went and commented - sounds like you had a fun day! :) That's probably a wise decision to go with the flow (of a 4 y old :D). We whizzed past the Children's Zoo, it was cute and the bunnies were adorable, I just wanted to see some more out of the ordinary animals :) The monkeys and lemurs were amazing, and the Rainforest too, so definitely go to those next time!

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  11. What gorgeous photos, I love London Zoo but I haven't been with my girls yet, we must take them! It is such a great place, for adults and kids alike! x

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    1. Thank you :) It really is such a great place, I am sure your daughters would absolutely love it! I especially liked the monkey enclosures, so much fun for kids :) And adults too!

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  12. I'm like you and have always wanted to go - but have yet to venture there. This is sure to change now my daughter is old enough and you have given me some great tips! Thanks for sharing on #citytripping

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    1. Yeah, it is a bit pricey and I didn't want to take my daughter there before she would appreciate it. But I think once they are two they get really excited, and can already recognise a lot of the animals, so it is a perfect time to start :) Thanks for hosting!

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  13. Really useful tips here, especially for visiting with little ones.
    #citytripping

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  14. This looks like so much fun! I lived in London for years and nearby in Camden too and still didn't get round to visiting the zoo! Will have to take my little boy before he turns three, I didn't realise he goes free. Great tips, thank you. Polly :)
    Our Seaside Baby

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