I hadn't been there since the 10 year old was a toddler in the buggy, he doesn't remember going and the 5 year old has never been. It's a bit of an epic journey for us on public transport. There is a car park at the zoo which costs about £14 a day and is outside the congestion charging zone but I decided to chance the public transport. The kids were very excited as we drove to the train station, got the overground train, then a tube, then a bus! All we needed was an aeroplane and we've have the full set.
We arrived at the zoo, surprisingly there weren't any queues. Using the vouchers was easy and I was happy paying just £2.50 in cash for our entry.
As soon as you get in you are greeted by a photo opportunity of a great brass statue of Guy the Gorilla. The 10year old asked me why he was famous. I didn't have a clue, just that he was when I was a child. There's also plenty of toilets near the entrance which is great when you've been travelling a while. We dumped our bags down and set about the map deciding which way we wanted to go.
The first port of call was Penguin Beach. where there was to be a talk at 11.30. There was plenty of viewing action and the kids loved the round window
where one of the penguins enjoyed swimming near them. We watched the talk and the naughty seagull "Dave" who pinched their food. He obviously knew what time it was!
From there we wandered into Butterfly Paradise. From the outside it's like a giant bouncy castle. Inside it's a humid spectacle full of the most amazing butterflies flitting around. I happened to be wearing a butterfly top and had a couple land on me to the 5 year olds delight. Inside you can pick up spotters guides to help. My two were very interested in the cocoons which are kept in a glass case hatching and drying newly emerged butterflies.
After the butterflies we naturally progressed onto the BUG section. This is an amazing development and the 5 year old did well not to scream and cry her way round the ants, tarantulas and glow in the dark frogs. In one section you can walk through with real spiders around you. This part is optional so the 5 year old and I waited outside for the 10 year old to finish his bravery quest.
We followed the paths and went onto Meet The Monkeys and into Animal Adventure - the children's zoo. This is where the meerkats are and a firm favourite with small children. There are tunnels the children can enter and pop their heads up meerkat style into their territory. There's also a fun play area here for kids with a splash zone near a small cafe and much needed toilets.
We'd brought a packed lunch so this is where we decided to stop and rest with a well earned sandwich. Once we re-fuelled we came to Tiger territory. The enclosure is huge with wall to ceiling glass and a high up viewing area. From there we saw the Galapagos Tortoises and then possibly the main attraction, Gorilla Kingdom.
I was quite sad the gorilla's weren't outside as it was a lovely warm day, however they've just had a new baby addition to their troop. The alpha male silverback - Kumbuka had just woken from an afternoon nap and funnily enough looked rather similar to MrM in the mornings!
By now it was time to have another little rest, there was a children's puppet type show on in the amphitheatre, and after that the 5year old went on the carousel and then they both went on the large bouncy castle slide. I sat and enjoyed the peace and quiet with a well earned cup of tea.
By now it was mid afternoon and we'd had a full morning. I wanted to see the giraffe's and the 5 year old wanted to see the kangaroos. To reach giraffe's you have to go via a tunnel to the "Into Africa" area. Again there are highly raised platforms to view the giraffes but it was very busy so small children might not get such a great view. The 5 year old was starting to get a bit fractious, probably because her little legs were aching. It's a lot of walking.
However, the 5 year old was determined to see the kangaroos so we walked back through the tunnel to go to the "Outback". The kangaroos weren't doing too much but the wallaby's had a burst of energy with one finding himself in with the emu's where a bit of a stand off occurred.
By now it was time to go. As with all places the exit is conveniently located via the gift shop. I managed to get out spending only £10 and took my tired but happy little monkey's home.
ZSL London Zoo is a lovely place to visit. There was so much to see and a lot of thought is not only put into the animals enclosures but for the visitors. Plenty of toilets (yay), plenty of things for children to play with and interactive displays for older ones.