Those studying in London really are spoilt for choice when it comes to entertainment, with a variety of permanent attractions and annual festivals in the city available for people of all ages to experience. One of the most popular days out to is ZSL London Zoo, with its wealth of species giving visitors the chance to discover hundreds of the world’s animals in one place. Here are a few facts about this age old attraction which you may not have known.
The oldest of all
While many recognise London Zoo as one of the longest serving days out in the city, when it was first opened on 27 April 1828, it was originally intended to serve as a collection for scientific study. It actually took nearly 20 years before members of the public were granted access, with the site opening as a zoo park in 1847.
ZSL is also believed to be the first animal attraction to use the term ‘zoo’. While there were other smaller exhibits of species elsewhere, London Zoo was the first to coin the phrase when it opened all those years ago. Now recognised as the world’s oldest scientific zoo, it is now the home for over 16,000 animals from 755 different species.
The problems of World War II
The London Zoo has survived through all the conflicts in London’s modern history, with the Second World War certainly proving the most testing. German bombers causing widespread chaos over the capital led to the first ever mass evacuation of the site, and every animal was moved to Whipsnade Zoo due to safety fears.
Despite the situation causing a logistical nightmare, incredibly, only one animal died during the process; the unfortunate animal was a young giraffe which feared the sounds of nearby bomb explosions.
A few world firsts
One of the key aspects behind the success of London Zoo is its constant striving to develop and innovate, enhancing its offering to create an unforgettable experience for all visitors. This creativity has led to them being the influence for what many zoos across the world offer today, becoming the first wildlife attraction to open a reptile house in 1849, as well as opening the first public aquarium in 1853, the first insect house in 1881, and the first children’s zoo in 1938.
Another world first by the zoo was realised in 1962 when an Arabian Oynx – named ‘Caroline’ – was leant to Phoenix Zoo in Arizona to participate in the first ever international co-operative breeding programme. Today, London Zoo is a main institution in the breeding of species, participating in 130 projects across the UK and throughout the world.
If you are looking for a day out to provide the perfect break from studying for your event management degree or other course, visiting the animals at ZSL London Zoo is the ultimate destination to explore.
There are literally thousands of zoo animals to discover – 19,178 to be precise, ranging from mammals, reptiles and birds to amphibians, fish and invertebrates. With so many to see, it is best to pick up or download a London Zoo map in order to make the most of your visit.
We would love to hear about your experiences at the zoo, whether you have any tips on where to head first or some great snaps of some of the residents. If you are keen to join in the discussion, be sure to head to the GSM London Facebook page today.
Image Credit: SParkhrin (Flickr.com)