London Zoo ☆☆

A Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) at the London Zoo (Photo by Katie Chan)
A Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) at the London Zoo
A Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) at the London Zoo, London Zoo, London (Photo by Katie Chan)
The Reptile House enclosure where they filmed a Harry Potter scene in "The Sorcerer's Stone", London Zoo, London (Photo by Karen Roe)
A giraffe, London Zoo, London (Photo by Tony Hisgett)
An adorable otter, London Zoo, London (Photo by Neil Page)
A gorilla, London Zoo, London (Photo by Tony Hisgett)
A Rhinoceros Iguana (Cyclura cornuta), London Zoo, London (Photo by Elliott Brown)
Eudocimus ruber, London Zoo, London (Photo by Jon Hanson)
A Blue-bellied Roller (Coracias cyanogaster), London Zoo, London (Photo by Steven G. Johnson)
A female Atlas moth (Attacus atlas), London Zoo, London (Photo by Nevit Dilmen)

The world's oldest scientific zoo (as opposed to some royal menagerie) is home to more than 750 species

London's main zoo, home to nearly 20,000 animals representing more than 750 species, is tucked into the north end of Regent's Park.

It is the world's oldest scientific zoo (as opposed to its predecessors, menageries of animal curiosities kept by royalty). It opened as a living collection for scientific study in 1828, then opened to the public in 1847.

There's a Gorlila Kingdom and a Butterfly Paradise, Tiger Territory (with new cubs) and the Outback, an Aquarium and an Animal Adventures area. In 2016, the London Zoo opened Land of the Lions, a new breeding facility for the endangered Asiatic lion (only 400 remain in the wild).

If you're here with kids, you can get a double-whammy sightseeing moment in the Reptile House, where the moviemakers filmed a scene early in the first Harry Potter movie, when Harry learns he can talk to snakes. There's even a little sign commemorating it.

Don't get any ideas about setting the real snake free, however. In the book and movie it might have been a firendly Burmese python, but the actual snake that lives here is an 8-foot black mamba, the fastest snake on Earth (clocked at 10–12 mph) and one of the deadliest serpents in the world (its venom can kill a grown man in 20 minutes).

Oh, and would somebody please do me a favor? At the BUGS exhibit, they have something called "In with the Spider," billed as Europe's only walk-through spider enclosure. Sounds interesting, but there's no way on Earth I am about to go into that room. I have a thing about spiders. Oh, I find them fascinting and all... I just choose to do so from a safe distance.

So please, someone braver than I needs to go in there and report back to me on what it is like. Thank you. Excuse me. I need to go be creeped out now.

London Zoo Tours

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How long does to zoo take?

As always, zoos take as long as you'd like them to.

You could wander through most exhibits in 60–90 minutes, or spend 2–3 hours enjoying watching the animals.