One day at the ZSL London Zoo and you’ll get to see and learn many things related to wildlife.
But, give yourself just one day only and you won’t be able to see them all…
At the ZSL London
Zoo, there’s simply too many to see and too much to do in one day!
In fact, it’s the largest zoo I’ve ever visited and I can’t help but wish I had more time to see all that ZSL had to offer.
Meet the Monkeys
Go in with the monkeys and observe them in their natural habitat.
The enclosure covers an area of 1500 square meters and houses a breeding group of black-capped squirrel monkeys in a habitat designed to recreate the Bolivian rainforests as closely as possible, in the center of London
The walk-through is open to the skies of the capital with no boundaries between the animals and our visitors!
This urban eco-safari has been designed so that it will develop and mimic the forests of Bolivia, the plants have specifically been chosen for their scent and fruits that will provide enrichment to the animals.
The monkeys in this new exhibit are either black capped or Bolivian squirrel monkeys. These species are the a South American squirrel monkey, mostly found in Bolivia, Brazil and Peru.
Black-capped Squirrel Monkey
The species lives in the rainforest and mainly eat insects, fruit and seeds. These monkeys live in multi-male, multi-female groups and are considered to be the most active, social and vocal of all the squirrel monkeys.
The squirrel monkey’s status in the wild is threatened from use in biomedical research and as pets, bait and food.
Currently ZSL London Zoo, along with other zoos in England, is involved in breeding program aimed at increasing numbers of this primate species. ZSL Zoos’ squirrel monkeys are part of the European Endangered Species Program.
ZSL London Zoo has also worked together with Royal Parks and Westminster City Council to extend the Zoo boundary to accommodate the creation of this enclosure.
B.U.G.S (Biodiversity Underpinning Global Survival) is the zoo’s cutting edge biodiversity and Conservation exhibit.
It is also the main place where invertebrates – animals without backbones – are displayed in the zoo, including insects, spiders, millipedes and lots of other creepy crawlies.
Housed in an exciting building called the Millennium Conservation Center, opened in 1999 as a UK Lotteries Fund supported project, B.U.G.S! is designed to explain what biodiversity – quite simply the variety of life on the planet – is all about, and why we need to conserve it.
There are over 140 species kept in B.U.G.S!, the vast majority of which are invertebrates, although we are also home to a few mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish.
Invertebrates are fundamental to biodiversity – for example over 95% of animals do not have a backbone, and there are over 1 million species of insects!
Invertebrates are vital for the survival of all ecosystems, as among other things they are primary pollinators and recyclers, and also provide food for other animals.
B.U.G.S! uses a combination of living animals and modern interpretation methods to bring the exhibit to life.
The exhibit is also designed in such a way that there are views behind the scenes, so you can often see ‘behind-the-scenes’ action, when the keepers get to work in the climate controlled breeding rooms!
Fun Facts of Creepy Crawlies
A few facts I learnt after paying a visit to this exhibition of ZSL.
An ant 3mm long has been observed dragging prey 6mm long back to its nest. This is equivalent to a human dragging a small car by their teeth over a distance of 8km!
A particular Asian moth has evolved to feed on the tears of buffalo?!
Fireflies are beetles that use light to attract a mate.
A colony of army ants may reach over 700,000 individuals.
When a flea jumps it accelerates at a rate 20x faster than a rocket being launched into space.
Without bees we would have little in the way of fruit, vegetables or sugar. As pollinators they are vital to the life cycle of many plants.
The combined weight of all the insects in the world is 12 times greater than the weight of the entire human population.
For every human alive, there are 200 million insects!
To avoid being eaten, stick insects hold their twig-like bodies and legs at the correct angle on a branch, they even sway like twigs when a breeze blows.
Malaysian giant stick insect eggs are just 4mm wide, but when the baby stick insects hatch they are already 70cm long!
Get closer than ever before to the family of Big Cats, consisting of Asian Lions, Serval and pair of Sumatran Tigers.
Zoo visitors can discover more about these amazing fearsome predators whilst learning about the conservation work ZSL London Zoo is doing, to save the big cats before it’s too late.
Servals are medium sized cats which resemble cheetahs.
The Serval has yellow fur with dark spots which camouflages it for hunting.
They have long legs, large ears and a small head. Servals have very keen eyesight and acute hearing, in fact, their hearing is so good, that they can hear animals moving under the ground.
The Serval usually hunts at dusk and leaps to strike the prey with its fore-paws.
Sadly, Servals are extinct in South Africa and very rare north of the Sahara, owing to the trade in their fur. It takes 13 adult Servals to make 1 fur coat.
Meet the capital’s family of Asian lions at ZSL London Zoo.
The Asian lion was the lion of the bible and Roman arenas.
It used to range from Greece, across the Middle East to India, but persecution has virtually wiped it out.
Presently, fewer than 300 Asian lions remain in the wild and captive breeding is key to their survival.
The King of ZSL London Zoo is EVIL!!
Meet Lucifer, the only Asian Lion surrounded with his many beautiful Lioness mistresses – resident of ZSL.
How or why was he called Lucifer??
Lucifer got his fiendish name because he bears the international zoo identity number: 666!
We’re having Penguin for lunch…!
I’m not really functioning now….that’s cause I’m WE are so hungry!
Had Penguin Chicken meat for lunch, before we pay the Penguins a visit at the Penguin Beach.
There are p-p-plenty of penguins at ZSL London Zoo in the stunning new Penguin Beach exhibit – England’s biggest penguin pool!
Globally, penguins are declining in response to climate change, and this climate change is particularly concerning in Antarctica.
The top suspects are climate change & fisheries, followed by disease and pollution, thus causing the penguins to decline globally.
In order to conserve them, we need to understand how penguins are affected by these threats in order to mitigate them. And, at the ZSL Zoo of London, you find out how exactly to do just that!
Meet ZSL London Zoo’s family of oriental short-clawed otters!
The ‘romp’ of otters in ZSL, love to live ‘in’ their furry families!
Otters at ZSL London Zoo are Oriental small-clawed otters and are actually the smallest and cutest species of otter. While most otters prefer to live solitary lives, this species are very sociable creatures and live in family groups.
A particular highlight of ZSL London Zoo is the Otter Feeding Session – ‘Otter Madness’!
Otter Feeding Session is an enjoyable and really fun show that’s well worth attending. In ‘Otter Madness’, you can join the otters and their keepers at 1:30pm every day at ZSL London Zoo for ‘Otter Madness’ and watch our playful and noisy family at feeding time!
Oriental short-clawed otter
Oriental small-clawed otters are the smallest of thirteen species of otter.
While most otter species are solitary, the unique small-clawed otters prefer to live in family groups. Their main threats in the wild are pollution and hunting for their pelts and livers.
They live in families, they stand guard, they babysit… and they can even kill scorpions. Here’s the star of the popular creatures from the sands of southern Africa’s Kalahari Desert!
The most popular and well-loved meerkat in ZSL London Zoo is:
“Pipsqueak” – Described as ZSL London Zoo’s bold and cheeky meerkat.
You won’t need to go as far as Lapland to see reindeer. Why? …Because they’ve landed in London! Meet four female reindeer, not only on Christmas season but all year round!
Chilling out in winter with Fun Facts
Reindeer love winter at the Zoo. Reindeer originate from the Arctic and Subarctic so they are at home in the chill. Not only do reindeer have two layers of fur but it is also made up of hollow hairs which fill with air, acting as insulators.
Both male and female reindeer have antlers.
However, it is only the female reindeer that has antlers over the Christmas period.
Reindeer are thought to be able to see ultraviolet light which helps them see better in the Arctic landscape!
Into Africa offers the opportunity to come eye to eye with some of Africa’s most unusual animals.
Giraffes, zebras, okapis, warthogs and African running dogs all feature in this exciting exhibit.
Giraffe viewing platform
Step Into Africa and observe the elegance and grace of the giraffes from the new viewing platform, supposedly taking in the African-like surroundings from a giraffe’s viewpoint.
It was closed at the time we were there though.
Into Africa is home to ZSL London Zoo’s four warthogs.
Because warthogs don’t like to be too hot you will often find the warthogs rolling in their mud wallows, to cool off. In 2008, ZSL London Zoo had its first warthog family with the birth of baby Harry – the first warthog born in the zoo for nearly a hundred years!
African hunting dogs
African hunting dogs are social, communally hunting carnivores, which live in small cohesive packs typically composed of a dominant breeding pair, a number of non-breeding adults, and their dependent offspring.
For most of the year, they roam around over the plains and in the bush, usually not staying in the same place for more than a day, with movements generally correlating to hunting success. If prey is scarce, the pack may traverse its entire home range in 2-3 days, covering up to 31 miles per day.
African hunting dogs are specialized pack hunters. Hunts take place in the morning and early evening and prey is apparently located by sight, approached silently, and then pursued at speeds of up to 41 mph for up to 1 hour.
Only officially discovered in the year of 1901, Okapi was officially named by the ZSL.
This elusive forest-dweller has a short, dense, velvety coat and a long, black, prehensile tongue like its closest relative, the giraffe. The young use their mother’s unique pattern of stripes on her hindquarters to identify her.
The main threat to okapi is the commercial bush-meat trade.
See animals in a different light at Rainforest Life, ZSL London Zoo’s exciting indoor exhibit – including an amazing nocturnal experience.
Enter London’s only living rainforest where you can come face to face with a variety of amazing rainforest species including monkeys, sloth, armadillo and anteaters.
Then step out of the light and into the all-new ‘Night Life’ area, where you’ll discover the bats, rats and nocturnal wonders who make the dark their home.
Rainforest by day – busy and bustling…
The rainforest is a bustling neighbourhood.
The warmth you feel, the water that drips and trees which soar give rise to a bewildering array of inhabitants and in just one tree, you could find a community of over 1000 species of insects.
With so much competition animals have evolved wonderful adaptations to help them survive.
Tubular tongues, screeching songs and talented tails add to the rich tapestry of rainforest life.
…and then, experience Night Life
Meet the creatures here who only come out in the dark in this amazing nocturnal experience.
Animals are kings in this nocturnal world with their giant eyes, protruding whiskers and voluminous ears, which give them an appearance we perceive to be scary.
In this exhibit, meet the rats, bats, armadillos and slender lorises that proudly present to you, in Night Life.
Residents of the rainforests of south and central America, sloths are known for their slow, careful movements. They are even commonly called ‘Bicho-preguica’, meaning: “lazy animal” in Brazil.
Unlike most mammals, hairs on sloths grow away from their extremities.
Sloths spend so much time with their legs above their bodies so this unusual hair growth helps provide protection from the elements while they hang upside down. Sloths only relieve themselves about once a week – and always in the same spot on the ground.
It’s not known why they do it this way, putting themselves at risk of being caught.
It’s been suggested that it may be to avoid giving away their location to would-be predators in the forest canopy.
Golden-headed lion tamarin
As only 2% of their native Brazilian forests remain, the golden-headed lion tamarin is classified as endangered.
Conservation programs are in place to try to stop the wild population’s decline, which is mainly being caused by deforestation for logging and farming. Many zoos worldwide are helping by maintaining a strong population and zoo-born tamarins have been successfully reintroduced into the wild.
This species is believed to have been named after the German Emperor Wilhelm II, because of its long, white mustache.
These tree-living monkeys are capable of leaping from branch to branch and use all four legs to run and walk across the forest floor.
Emperor tamarins live together in groups lead by the oldest female. Group bonding and socializing is very important to them, with mutual grooming playing an important role in this.
Say “Hi” to ‘Heather’! Heather is the ZSL Zoos’ resident Armadillo! She is about a foot long and half a foot wide, weighing at about 3.5kg.
Her most easily recognizable feature is her banded shell. Thick hairs on the hairy armadillo project from the scales of this armor. The underside of both Heather’s body and limbs are also covered with finer light brown hairs.
All armadillos have shells made of bone,that cover their backs, this makes them quite inflexible. They rely on speed and digging ability to escape danger. As Armadillos are nocturnal, Heather’s home is in “Moonlight World” at London Zoo’s small mammal house.
Built to dig, they live in burrows and eat a wide variety of different foods, ranging from insects to plants. Many of them also eat bits of flesh from dead animals when they can find them.
Some individuals have been seen killing small snakes by jumping on them, using the edge of the shell to cut them. They can cause quite a lot of damage to farmland and are hunted as an agricultural pest and for food.
Armadillos are also suffering because they are the only non-primate that can contract Hansen’s disease; a type of leprosy. As a result, they are used widely for research and on the verge of becoming extinct. The lifespan of Armadillos in general are usually about 30 years.
There are twenty different species of armadillo and their closest relatives are sloths and anteaters.
The banded portion of the carapace has 18 bands or plates, 7/8 of which are movable and the three banded armadillo is the only species of armadillo that can roll itself into a ball.
Malagasy Giant Jumping Rat
The giant jumping rat is unique to the island of Madagascar and can be found nowhere else in the world.
It’s the largest rodent on the island. and with their long hind feet, they can jump up to a meter into the air when faced with danger.
They live in burrows as family units, with Mum and Dad mating for life and living with their most recent offspring.
Seba’s Short-tailed Bat
Building up a picture of your surroundings is essential for survival, especially when fluttering around caves and forests.
Bats create a high pitched sound which bounces around their environment. The bats listen for the sound’s echo. This sense lets them work out where solid objects are and is known as echolocation.
Red titi monkey
Lots of monkeys move around using all four limbs, but red titi monkeys have evolved to use their strong legs to move from branch to branch.
They grip tightly as they go to prevent a fall and use their tails, which are not capable of grasping, for balance.
Red titi monkeys forage in the lower levels of the rainforest canopy. They are fruit eaters, but have been known to eat insects, flowers, leaves and pollen.
The ZSL London Zoo is located in the north east corner of London’s Regent Park, in England -and is open every day of the year, except for Christmas Day.
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