A day out at ZSL London Zoo

ZSL London Zoo is awesome. Whatever your age – there are great activities for young and old alike and you can learn about animals, conservation and the environment whilst strolling around the (very large) enclosure and letting little ones explore the various areas (Tiger Territory, Penguin Beach, Gorilla Kingdom and Land of the Lions).

The Zoo has lots of fun activities throughout the holidays such as Mini-Keepers at the time of writing and also lots of talks and events as well as a selection of impressive mammals, fish, reptiles and birds. In fact there is so much to do and so many animals to see that you are likely not to get it done in a day.

What ages is London Zoo suitable for?

When we visited, our littles ones were 18 months and 2 and a half. Both the kids had a great time and whilst the kids are under 3 they don’t have to pay for a ticket which saves a bit of cash as the trip can get pretty expensive.

What’s good for families at ZSL London Zoo?

Boys at the London Zoo – Photo by Jaimey Suleyman

Whatever your age and interests, there is bound to be something to captivate you at London Zoo. Since it was founded in 1826 the Zoological Society of London has had plenty of experience in educating Londoners on creatures great and small from every nook and cranny of our vast planet. Since it started the focus has shifted from entertainment to conservation and the animals – although still enclosed, have been moved around so they are more comfortable (eg the elephants have been moved to Whipsnade and the Gorillas have a more spacious enclosure).

As well as an impressive 19289 different animals at ZSL London Zoo, there are lots of other activities on offer such as the daily ‘Meet the Animals’ experiences which give visitors the chance to get up-close to some of the most popular animals, ‘Mini-Keepers’ where children can learn all about what it means to be a zoo keeper, photography workshops and many talks and shows. Before you visit check out their website and build an itinerary. Alternatively if your kids don’t fare well with crowds, avoid feeding times or talks and visit the areas off-peak for a more relaxed experience.

How much is a ticket to ZSL London Zoo?

Tickets are £30 at the gate on the day but are cheaper when bought online at £27 for an adult. For children aged 3-15 online tickets are £17.55 and at the gate £19.50. Under 3s are free to enter the zoo. Tickets can be purchased here.

Are there discounts or special offers for tickets to London Zoo?

Sometimes there are offers available. Keep an eye online (or set up a google alert) also if you shop at Tesco’s there is the possibility to pay for your ticket with Clubcard vouchers. ZSL also takes part in the 2 for 1 offer run by National Rail.

Is ZSL London Zoo good value for money?

It may become an expensive day out (especially for larger families) but as an occasional treat we think it is worth it. There are lots of educational activities to get involved in and the Zoo itself is fun for all the family. Plus, if you bring a packed lunch you can save money on food and snacks which add up very quickly. The cost of the ticket covers most activities, the only extras we spotted were the Carousel (which we paid £2.50 per person), the bouncy castle (£2.50 a go) and face painting (which is not recommended for under 3s). All of these extra costs can be avoided and children persuaded to do one of the free activities instead. If you live close by you may want to invest in an annual pass and enjoy a year’s worth of visits for starting from £166 for one adult and up to 5 children. Other options available here.

How long should we spend at ZSL London Zoo?

It is definitely worth planning to spend a full day out. We arrived at 10am and stayed until closing time and we still didn’t get a chance to view everything or do half of the activities we initially thought we would get involved in.

Young Londonist best bits of ZSL London Zoo:

In with the goats

We enjoyed the whole London Zoo experience but the moments that stood out the most included:

  • The Tiger Territory: it was our first time seeing a tiger and we were very much impressed.
  • Walking alongside the lemurs – especially when a load of them presented their bums to us with those great bushy tails.
  • Stroking and feeding the goats after seeing the Tiger. Our toddler was delighted by this and stomped his feet in excitement at being able to interact with the animals.
  • Playing pretend in the Lion’s enclosure by pretending to be a bush keeper.
  • The butterfly dome is very impressive and the butterflies are magnificent colours and great shapes and sizes. We thoroughly enjoyed walking amongst them.

What are the food options at London Zoo?

Treats at London Zoo – Photography by Jaimey Suleyman

From breakfast muffins to pizza lunches, BBQs and street food to lattes, there’s a lot on offer in terms of food at London Zoo. The Aquarium Kiosk and the Terrace restaurant are the largest food outlets, but there are also smaller places to purchase snacks and drinks around the site (which often don’t have the same queues).

Is ZSL London Zoo pram friendly?

It most certainly is. Although both our children are confident walkers – it was safer to take a pram as the site is very big and requires a lot of walking. If older mobility restricted relatives are joining in, there are only very few steps and in those instances eg The Aquarium, there are accessible step-free entrances.

Young Londonist top tips for visiting London Zoo

  • Get there early
  • Check to see the cheapest parking options (if you are driving) or
  • During summer take a canal boat down to the Zoo with the London Waterbus Company (great to build up excitement with the kids)
  • Pack a water bottle (ZSL does not sell single use plastic bottles) but they offer free refills and have a few water fountains dotted around the site.
  • Bring a packed lunch or plenty of snacks to avoid spending too much on food.