Wednesday 30 April 2014

Z is for ZSL London Zoo


Z is for ZSL London Zoo


Today we travel to London


ZSL London Zoo

The Zoological Society of London was established in 1826 and is situated at the northern edge of Regent’s Park, on the boundary line between City of Westminster and Camden. The Society also has a more spacious site at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire to which the larger animals such as elephants and rhinos have been moved. 

As well as being the first scientific zoo, ZSL London Zoo also opened the 

First Reptile house (1849)

First public Aquarium (1853)

First insect house (1881) 

First children's zoo (1938)

ZSL receives no state funding and relies on 'Fellows', 'Friends', 'Members', entrance fees and sponsorship to generate income.

London Zoo was opened on 27 April 1828 and is the world’s oldest scientific zoo and was originally intended to be used as a collection for scientific study. It opened to the public in 1847

Gardens of the Zoological Society Regent's Park 1828

Painting of the Camel House 1835

Today it houses a collection of 755 species of animals with 16,802 individuals, making it one of the largest collections in the United Kingdom.  

London Zoo Entrance
© Laura Porter, licensed to, Inc.


Guy the gorilla arrives at London Zoo. 

Statue of Guy the Gorilla

Guy, a Western lowland gorilla, arrived at the Zoo on Guy Fawkes Night, (hence the name) 1947 from Paris Zoo. He lived at the Zoo until his death in 1978. Over his 32-year life he became one of the Zoo's best-loved residents.


After years of trying to find a mate, in 1969 five-year-old Lomie arrived from Chessington Zoo and they were kept separated for a year to adjust to each other, until they were finally united. Although they got on well together they never produced any offspring. 

In 1982 Guy was commemorated by a bronze statue in Barclay Court, sculpted by William Timym.

On 27 November 1949 Brumas, named after his keepers, Bruce and Sam (Sam reversed) became the first polar bear to be successfully bred at the Zoo, and immediately became a major attraction with the public.
This led to the Zoo's annual attendance to rise to over 3 million in 1950 - a figure that has yet to be topped. Although a female, the press reported that she was a 'he' and this was not corrected at the time, leading the public to believe the bear was a male. 

Eighteen years later, on 1 December 1967 the second polar bear bred at the Zoo, this time a male, was born. He was named Pipaluk (Inuit for little one) but, in 1985, had to leave the Zoo when the Mappin Terraces closed.

Reptile House at London Zoo
© Laura Porter, licensed to, Inc.

Arrival: The Harry Potter scene was filmed in the reptile house for the film in late 2001

A scene from the first Harry Potter moved was filmed in the Reptile House at London Zoo. In this scene a Burmese Python spoke to Harry Potter, played by Daniel Radcliffe, for the first time.


The coach pulled up at the entrance

Thirty children disembarked, hopped and danced

Fees were paid, charges shepherded through gates

To find the conveniences before it was too late

Gathering all together they chose the gorillas 

They pushed and shoved, asked for ices

The giraffes were tall and stretched their long necks

Their skin was mottled with dark flecks

The penguins waddled to and fro

A keeper feed them fish from a wheelbarrow

On to the reptile house with snakes and frogs

Little faces open eyed and mouths agog

Tired and weary  

Back to the bus and counted clearly

Oh my, where’s little Jimmy 

There he is next to naughty Timmy.