London Zoo is the world’s oldest scientific zoo, and is one the most internationally famous for good reason: it is home to 19,178 individual animals spanning 806 species, and is one of the best days out for kids and adults alike. This collection of animals includes England’s largest collection of penguins, numbering seventy-one individuals: seventy Humboldt penguins and one Rockhopper penguin, called Ricky. Back in 2011, the penguins got a brand new home, Penguin Beach, which recreates a South American beach environment in the heart of Regent’s Park. The penguins now have a huge 1200 square metre/450,000 litre pool to play in, with stunning underwater viewing areas so you can see how they live in the water – and quite a sight it is too, with Humboldt penguins reaching speeds of up to thirty miles per hour in the water.
There’s also a large demonstration area, where feeding sessions are the highlights of the day for penguins and punters alike! Penguin Beach Live features two live feeds per day where visitors can watch penguins diving for their food, which they wolf down with relish; Humboldt penguins don’t chew their food at all, but swallow the fish head first. Watching the penguins preen themselves and their companions is also a favourite of many visitors. They gather oil from their tails and apply it to feathers like penguin hair gel. Ricky the Rockhopper is easily identifiable from his Humboldt friends, by his red eyes, orange beak, pink webbed feet, and in particular by his black and yellow spiky hair – and, of course, by the way he doesn’t waddle but hops over the rocks, as his name suggests. If you’re interested in saying hello to the penguins during your stay in London, London Zoo is not far from The Piccadilly West End, one of the most comfortable west end hotels.
While everyone loves the residents of Penguin Beach, there’s much more to London Zoo than these guys. Gorilla Kingdom is home to six western lowland gorillas, including a new infant born in November 2015. The enclosure consists of a moated island with an indoor gym, to make sure the gorillas can get their exercise and stay in shape. The Gorilla Kingdom is also home to smaller enclosures containing Diana monkeys, black and white colobus, sooty mangabeys, Sulawesi crested macaques and Congo peafowl. Meanwhile, Tiger Territory is home to one of the world’s rarest and most majestic animals: the Sumatran Tiger. This area of the zoo is home to two adults, a male named Jae Jae and a female named Melati, and is committed to the efforts towards sustaining the existence of these beautiful animals. Happily, the couple welcomed three cubs into the world in February 2014: two males named Budi and Nakal, and a female named Cinta. The tigers live in a large enclosure of 27,000 square feet, which features lots of authentic Indonesian plant life to make the family feel at home.