ZSL London Zoo

On Sunday 17th February my family and I were very lucky to be invited to ZSL London Zoo sponsored by family annual travel insurance from Virgin Money.

We left Bournemouth just after 8am and it took just over two hours to get to London Zoo by car from Bournemouth.  Parking was a little pricey (£14.50 for the day), but then this is central London after all!

We unpacked the car and headed towards the entrance where we met up with some other bloggers, including my good friend Laura from TiredMummyofTwo and the headed into the zoo.

The #VMDayOut Bloggers
The #VMDayOut bloggers

We were immediately greeted by the statue of Guy Gorilla, one of the best loved animals from the zoo’s history.  My children saw fit to do their best Gorilla impressions rather than pose nicely for the camera.

Guy the Gorilla statue at ZSL London Zoo

ZSL London Zoo is over 200 acres in size, and it is entirely up to you which direction you choose to go and explore first.  Thankfully they provide a very easy to follow map, and we headed off in search of things to see.

We started off gently we some monkey’s and even some ducks……..

and then went in search of the Galapagos Tortoise – can you spot the real one?

Reptile House - ZSL London Zoo

Tortoise statue - ZSL London Zoo
I’m not sure the Tortoise signed up for this

The zoo is very interactive, as you can see by the above pictures, with examples of shells, skins and fur on display so the children can learn what the animals actually feel like.

Isaac loves Snakes and Lizards, but only if they are safely behind glass, so the next stop was the Reptile House.  He spent ages studying each one, delighted if the appeared to move or acknowledge him.

Reptile House - ZSL London Zoo

Next was the Aquarium, which Eliza loved and we spend some time in search of Nemo and his friends, spotting fish we knew and studying those we didn’t.  It was a great opportunity to practice counting and colours.
Seahorse - ZSL London ZooAquarium - ZSL London ZooAquarium ZSL London Zoo
The little ones were eager to explore and having just watched Madagascar 3 at home, were desperate to see if Marty the Zebra and Melman the Giraffe were at the zoo too.  Luckily we found them, and some other famaliar creatures in “Into Africa”
We saw Wart Hogs fighting……
African Hunting Dogs enjoying some winter sunshine…..
The zebra weren’t keen on joining us outside though…
But the Giraffe were magnificent!
Giraffe - ZSL London ZooGiraffe - ZSL London Zoo
Eliza was fascinated and we stood on the bridge and watched as a Giraffe managed to dismantle and eat a branch.
By now, tummy’s were starting to rumble so we headed off in search of a Cafe, but not before stopping at the Rainforest and Nightlife areas.  
Rainforest Area ZSL London Zoo
Red Titi Monkey’s – yes, really!!
The Nightlife area was sadly not what Abbey was hoping for, although it did start with some beautiful fibre optic lights to help our eyes adjust to the darkness inside and Isaac was a little disappointed not to spot Batman in the Batcave.
The Bat Cave - Nightlife - ZSL London Zoo
The Bat Cave
My tip of the trip is to take a packed lunch.  I was horrified by the cost of food and spent £28 on sandwiches and crisps for 5 of us (2 adults and 3 children) in the cafe.  We later spotted a fish and chip bar, but that wasn’t much cheaper either.  I really should have known better!
Once the kids had filled up and replaced their energy levels we headed off to Penguin Beach to see the Penguins being fed.  It is obviously a very popular event and the stands were packed half an hour before it started, but there was plenty of standing room.
Penguin Beach - ZSL London Zoo
Watching the Penguins “Fly” past
The zoo keepers feed the Penguins through drainpipes so they don’t get used to being fed by “human hand”.
Penguin Beach - ZSL London Zoo
Penguin Beach - ZSL London Zoo
Once the Penguins had finished, we headed off in search of more exotic creatures.  Eliza spotted some colourful parrots which looked like Polly from Peppa Pig and then we headed inside to the Bug Centre.
Isaac was again in his element, as he spotted crickets and spiders and all things weird and wonderful.
The Bug House - ZSL London Zoo
Fascinated by Leaf Cutter Ants hard at work
The Bug Centre is full of information about all the creatures and lots of interactive items for the the kids to try.  Our favourite was the snakes eye, where they can sit in it and view how they would look to a snake.
ZSL London Zoo
Snakes Eye
We were supposed to be meeting up with some of the Bloggers for a group photo next, by the Lions but sadly we missed them.  The Lions were on form though, with one making sure she was heard, much to the amusement of everyone around.
Lioness - ZSL London Zoo
We also got to see an Anteater getting fed and a very spiky Porcupine!
Porcupine - ZSL London Zoo

By far the most entertaining part of the day, was a visit to the Butterfly House.  The butterflies flew amongst us and took a shine to Kian in his bright cardigan, much to his disgust.  One particularly large blue one would not leave him alone, but unfortunately I was too busy laughing to capture the moment on my camera.

Isaac went into panic mode, and had to be half walked, half carried out as he didn’t like the butterflies!

By this time, Eliza was exhausted and having run everywhere all day so she passed out in her buggy.

Abbey and Kian marched off ahead, but Isaac was too busy playing with a Polar Bear statue so we fell behind.  We noticed a small crowd ahead and decided to see what was going on, and came across the most beautiful Owl.

European Eagle Owl - ZSL London Zoo

I swear it was eyeing up Isaac as potential lunch though!

European Eagle Owl - ZSL London Zoo
Mmmmm – Lunch!

We were almost done for the day and the sun was starting to go down and there was a definite chill in the air.  We headed for another indoor attraction and Isaac fell in love with an Armadillo who was pacing his cage and burrowing under a log, onto to re-appear out the other side seconds later.

Armadillo - ZSL London Zoo
Armadillo – crunchy on the outside!! LOL

I then managed to start a rendition of Alice the Camel and can only apologise to the other patrons – oops!!

The Meerkats were a hit too!
Meerkats - ZSL London Zoo

Meerkats - ZSL London Zoo

Finally it was the monkey walk through.  Abbey took Isaac through as Eliza was still asleep in the buggy and buggy’s are not allowed in.  Apparently Isaac was talking to all the monkey’s as he went through and was even offered a job!!

Monkey Walk - ZSL London ZooMonkey Walk - ZSL London Zoo
Monkey Walk - ZSL London Zoo

Last but not least, Isaac got to make himself a badge and then we headed back to the shop and then the car, exhausted but full of talk about what we had seen.

We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at London Zoo, and although it doesn’t offer as much freedom to run around for the kids as some other places do, it didn’t feel too busy or overcrowded.  My one grumble however (apart from the cost of the food), was the cleanliness of the toilet facilities.  They were pretty awful by the end of the day, although on the whole the zoo was clean and tidy.

I must say a huge thank you to Virgin Money for such a fantastic day out and congratulations on being voted “Best Online Travel Insurance Provider 2012” at the Money Direct Awards.  If you are going abroad, it is well worth checking out their offers as annual cover starts from just £35.20 and kids are covered free (up to 3 under 18’s per insured adult).  In addition to this you get access to some fantastic Virgin Group discounts including 5% off Virgin Holidays, 13% off airport parking and 10% off car hire!!

If you want to see what the other bloggers thought, check out the hashtag #VMDayOut on twitter – there are some fab photo’s to be seen and you can find other posts on our day out by checking out the links below:

More Than A Mum

Tired Mummy of Two

I Heart Motherhood

Babes About Town

Super Amazing Mum

ZSL London Zoo - Guy Gorilla

Oh – and check out what ZSL London Zoo’s Mort the Monkey and Alex the Lion did the very next day after coming home with us here!

2 thoughts on “ZSL London Zoo

  1. Kara Guppy says:

    Thank you – we thoroughly enjoyed it and they are still exhausted so I took advantage of an unexpected afternoon nap!! – you have to take this chances when they come :0)

  2. more than a mum says:

    Great post. Fast too! You guys packed a lot into your day and got some great photos too.

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