Encounters with the Big Cats at London Zoo – Regents Park

London Zoo in Regent’s Park is the world’s oldest scientific zoo. It also happens to be my kids number one favourite place to visit in London. Wandering around this familiar local haunt it’s hard to believe that the doors were first opened to the public way back in 1847. At this time some of the zoo’s more exotic animals such as a Obaysch the hippopotamus had not been seen in Europe since Roman times.

Since its early days as a centre for scientific study the zoo has been managed by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), a world leader in wildlife conservation, science and education. Over recent years the zoo has undergone somewhat of a facelift with some much needed enlargements and renovations to a number of the enclosures. Our favourites of these new zones have to be Tiger Territory and Land of the Lions. My son has been fascinated by the big cats since he was tiny so these enclosures are always the first on our list of things to see.

Tiger territory opened back in March 2013 and is five times larger than the previous site. The lush green enclosure surrounded by floor to ceiling glass is home to a pair of beautiful adult Sumatran Tigers and their two cubs – born back in June 2016. As coordinators of the European Breeding Programme for the critically endangered Sumatran Tiger, ZSL is responsible for the diversity and health of these cats throughout zoos across the world. My kids just adore these amazing animals, in fact during the past summer holidays we visited almost every week just to see the young tiger cubs growing and causing mischief inside their jungle enclosure. I’ll admit I loved watching their antics just as much as the kids did. You can find out more about their birth here on the ZSL website.

Land of the Lions is the most recent of London Zoo’s ambitious re-developments. After a long wait (we were literally counting down the months and days) the new site finally opened in spring 2016 giving the zoo’s majestic pride of Asiatic Lions a brand new, more spacious stomping ground. Designed to emulate India’s Gir Forest National Park the much larger enclosure is surrounded by brightly coloured market stalls, rickshaws, a rural train station and raised walkways that give lots of different viewing perspectives. You can also spend a night within roaring distance of the lions at one of the nine Gir Lion Lodges situated just beside the enclosure. These Gujarati style wooden huts can accommodate two adults and two children. Prices include dinner, breakfast and private torchlit tours outside of zoo opening hours. It sounds so much fun, my little boy is saving up all his pocket money for a a stay here.

With over 750 different species of animals at London Zoo its can be difficult to try and see them all in one day so it’s advisable to start early and avoid school holidays and weekends when the zoo is at its busiest. Some of our other must see animals include the bats, meerkats, giraffes, penguins and the walk through lemur enclosure which gives you the chance to get up close and personal to these cute furry tailed creatures.

On a rainy day we also love the aquarium and reptile houses, you can read more about their bugs, frogs and fish in this previous Babyccino post here.

Kate x


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