London Zoo, formally Zoological Gardens, is located in the northern part of Regent’s Park in the City of Westminster, London. It has one of the broadest animal collections in the world and the largest zoological library.
It’s a fun and peaceful animal oasis in the heart of the city where visitors are invited to get up close with some of their favourite animals and enjoy live feedings, exhibitions and more! Yes, there’s so much more to see and experience at London zoo! Read these interesting facts about London zoo to see what awaits you!
In 1931 the Zoological Society of London opened a country branch, Whipsnade Wild Animal Park in Dunstable, Bedfordshire.
While writing the Origin of Species, iconic naturalist Charles Darwin visited London Zoo to study the first orangutan that lived here in March 1838.
London Zoo hosted the world’s first dog show in the 1840s.
Today dogs aren’t allowed in the zoo in case they distress the animals.
For almost 20 years only fellows of the Society were allowed to access the Zoo for scientific study until the doors were opened to the public in 1847 to help funding.
In 1865, London Zoo became home to an African bull elephant named Jumbo (11ft tall) and was the inspiration behind the word now found in the English dictionary meaning extremely large.
London Zoo, along with other zoos around the country surrendered its sea lions to be trained to detect submarines during the First World War.
The current aquarium was built in 1921, under the Mappin Terraces, a mountain-like structure previously home to the zoo’s bears and mountain goats, but now inhabited by emus and wallabies. The mountain structure acts as a complex water filtering system.
There are several listed buildings around the zoo site in Regent’s Park, one of the most peculiar being the traditional telephone box at Penguin Beach, which is in fact Grade I listed.
Other notable listed buildings include the old penguin pool designed by architect Berthold Lubetkin.
The giraffe house at the Zoo is the oldest zoo building in the world still used for its original purpose.
Children’s story Winnie-the-Pooh was inspired by a female black bear called Winnie that lived at London Zoo from 1914 until she died in 1934. Author Alan Alexander Milne changed the name of his iconic character from Pooh to Winnie-the-Pooh after visiting the Zoo with his son, Christopher Robin.
Brumas was the first polar bear bred successfully at the zoo in 1949. His birth caused zoo attendance in 1950 to jump to 3 million, a figure that has yet to be topped.
The gorilla statue at the entrance of London Zoo is a tribute to one of our most famous residents, Guy. The Western lowland gorilla arrived at the Zoo on Guy Fawkes Night, hence his name, and became something of a celebrity, attracting thousands of visitors to the Zoo between 1947 and 1978.
“Caroline”, an Arabian Oryx, was lent to the Phoenix, Arizona zoo for the world’s first international cooperative breeding programme in 1962.
In 1965, a golden eagle named Goldie brought the traffic around Regents Park to a standstill when he escaped his enclosure during a cleaning. He evaded recapture for 12 days with the saga being covered in the papers, on the BBC, and even mentioned in a debate in the House of Commons.
The roof of the old Casson elephant house depicts a herd of elephants drinking from a watering hole. Designed by Sir Hugh Casson, it opened its doors in 1965.
Underneath the old elephant enclosure is where a lot of the animals’ meals are prepared.
The chopping room has menus for all the different animals on all the walls.
The collection of dodo paintings in the zoo created by artist Roelandt Savery is particularly moving as the species became extinct in 1681.
London Zoo’s penguins were the inspiration behind the logo of Penguin Books.
Keepers train some of the animals to do basic commands so that they can safely move them around or check their health.
A “keeper for a day” is when visitors get to interact with the animals.
The London Zoo receives no public funding. In addition to admission charges and donations, there are “Patrons” and “Fellowes” memberships available.
It has more than 755 different species and 17,480 individual animals. All of these animals are spread out over 36 acres.
1999 saw the opening of the Millennium Conservation Centre by Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh.
The same year the zoo launched its first website.
During 2000 the scene in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone where Harry talks to a Burmese python was filmed at the zoo’s black mamba enclosure.
In 2005, the zoo displayed an exhibit called the Human Zoo for four days, during which eight people were “on display”. The idea was to showcase the nature of a human as an animal and highlight the impact people have on the animal world.
In 2006, 950 exotic fish and coral were seized by Customs officers at Heathrow airport. London Zoo rescued them and rehoused them in the zoo’s aquarium.
During 2010 a three-part documentary titled ‘The Zoo’ was aired on ITV. It followed the daily life at the London and Whipsnade zoos.
London Zoo was the first place in the world to breed the critically endangered Lake Oku clawed frog in 2014.
London Zoo is closed on only one day of the year, Christmas Day.
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about London Zoo that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!