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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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?