Betselling novelist Faith Bleasdale takes a picnic, a friend, some small children and a lifelong fear of spiders to the legendary London Zoo.

It was February when I took my three-year-old on his very first visit to London Zoo. Despite having mixed feelings about zoos, (ideally, in my opinion, all animals would stay in their natural habitats), I wanted my little boy to see for real the animals we read about and saw on television.

London Zoo is also very committed to conservation and spread over quite a distance (not to be tried in heels, I fear); the animals do seem to have nice, spacious habitats to thrive in. And I have to say most of them didn’t look depressed.

Myself, my three-year-old, and my friend’s seven-year-old all set off to attempt seeing 760 different species. I am pretty sure that although we were there for five hours, we didn’t quite see them all. But we did see the gorillas, which were impressive, and my son’s favourite – giraffes, (I couldn’t tear him away). The Zoo was incredibly busy and full of excited children which was lovely to see.

It is an attraction that is, of course, geared toward children,(although I did see some couples there), and so therefore most of the day was amazingly easy. We watched penguins being fed; I was made to face my fear by looking at spiders, (still having nightmares) and my toddler really seemed to enjoy actually spending time looking at the animals as well as running around and being outdoors.

As well as animals there was face-painting (we avoided that, due to the fact I actually find it almost as scary as spiders), a couple of rides, (couldn’t avoid that as my toddler insisted), and playgrounds for the children to explore – and play on. It feels safe and well designed, and there is pretty much everything you would want for your child. And, I should add, it was pretty exciting for an adult too.

On the downside eating wasn’t great. There are a choice of cafes, however they were packed and also, the main cafe is about as un-child friendly as it could be. Designed by someone who clearly doesn’t have children, the tables were so close together, that you could barely get to them. Trying to juggle a high-chair, two children and a tray wasn’t the most fun. But once the stress of lunch was over, then things improved.

The zoo is a friendly place. The staff were happy to stop and answer the children’s questions, and there were lots of happy families milling around.

However, it certainly isn’t a cheap day out. Ticket prices are high; under-threes might go in free, but adults’ tickets are £20.50, and children’s tickets £16.0 ( not including food, drink, rides and of course quite a few trips to the gift shop.)

They also try to get you to buy photos and maps too. Avoid that if you can. It is worth saving up for but it’s not for the faint hearted!

However, if you take a picnic and avoid the majority of commercial temptations then it is definitely worth it. London has many attractions both for adults and children; however the zoo is probably one of my favourites. Highly recommended.

ZSL London Zoo
Regents Park


About Faith Bleasdale

Faith Bleasdale grew up in Devon, did History at Bristol University and then moved to London. After sampling a huge variety of rubbish jobs, she decided that she would put her passion for writing to good use. She currenty lives in Singapore where the climate and the shopping definitely agrees with her. She writes full time.