What better way to spend a sultry summer evening than to stroll through the exotic animals of the London Zoo while sipping Pimms?
What better way to spend a sultry summer evening than to stroll through the exotic animals of the London Zoo while sipping Pimms? At the ZSL’s Zoo Lates, late-night openings taking place from 6 to 10 every Friday during June and July, you are able to do just that.
Ok, perhaps the sultry part is a bit of an exaggeration. Frankly, London summers don’t really get sultry that often, but when I visited the zoo last Friday I was thrilled to find that not only it didn’t rain, the temperature remained hanging around an agreeable degree throughout the entire evening too.
The London Zoo (Kettle’s verdict: 4/5)
The ZSL London Zoo is without a doubt one of the most impressive zoos in England. Not only do they keep a staggering amount of different animal species, most of their animal’s enclosures are absolutely top-notch. Especially their brand new Tiger Territory, home to the Zoo’s critically-endangered Sumatran tigers is absolutely stunning. The £3.6 million Tiger enclosure in itself is almost equally as exciting to explore as to spot the two tigers in it.
Animals by night (Kettle’s verdict: 4.5/5)
Initially I was slightly worried to find all the animals completely drenched out of energy after a long day of active zoo duties, but most of them were surprisingly active. During the informative talk about the tigers we were lucky to spot both of them as they awoke from their afternoon naps.
Another impressive site was to see the zoo’s three giraffes inexhaustibly chasing after each other, with their awkwardly shaped legs galloping their awkward bodies forward at surprisingly high speeds. For the barely one-month-old okapi it was obviously way past bedtime, yet it was a real treat to watch the adorable little creature hurled up like Bambi in ithe night-enclosure.
The absolute climax of the evening was to see Bertha, the zoo’s 17 foot long Burmese Python slowly spread its mouth to three times the width of her face in what appeared to be a drowsy yawn.
General Atmosphere (Kettle’s verdict: 5/5)
As I said in the beginning of this article, nothing really beats wandering around a zoo with a glass of beer or Pimms in your hand. The fact that the Zoo Lates are only open to ages 18+ make these evenings into a unique opportunity to explore the zoo without any screaming children around. And yet, while the evening is supposed to be for adults only, it’s the perfect time to let your own inner child run free again.
Lots of visitors are wearing animal hats or masks, or even complete animal onesies, which really accentuates the happy and festive atmosphere that resonates through the entire zoo on these special evenings. Another amazing element of the Zoo Lates is the huge amount of friendly zookeepers around to inform visitors and answer any questions they might have.
Food (Kettle’s verdict: 3.5/5)
You don’t really have to worry about going hungry at Zoo Lates. As soon as you enter the zoo, you’re surrounded by over 20 different street food stalls serving all kinds of global cuisine. At this vibrant and colourful miniature Street Food Festival, there is something for each kind of food lover. From Indian wraps to Turkish pizza’s, creamy mac n’ cheese to fluffy banana pancakes or All American hotdogs, the choices are infinite.
Entertainment (Kettle’s verdict: 4/5)
If all the animals of the London zoo aren’t enough already, there are numerous ways to entertain yourself throughout the evening. With a constant flow of performances, adult sized playrooms (complete with a huge ball pond!) and a silent disco, there is absolutely no chance of get bored at Zoo Lates. Make sure not to miss the comedy show, which is really nothing more than a short and simple piece of improvisational theatre, but its highly uplifting energy provides a perfect intermezzo for your evening of animal spotting.
Final verdict: 4.5/5
Zoo Lates is a delightful concept that offers a perfect night out, whether that be by yourself, with friends, colleagues, or on a romantic date.
No summer is complete without at least one night at the Zoo Lates!
Zoo Lates is open every Friday during June and July and tickets can be bought online here. Tickets are priced at £25, £35 inc drink, queue jump and animal mask or hat.