Monday, 4 September 2017

 

How to Spend a Rainy Day at London Zoo

London Zoo is the perfect summer holiday outing, strolling through the park with an ice cream in hand with friends or family while admiring the exotic animals is pretty idyllic. But what if it rains all day and some of the animals are in hiding? When we went for a visit last week it was the one miserable day sandwiched between 28 degrees summery ones, but that didn't stop us from exploring London Zoo and making the most of it; we just had to be a bit creative (and no, this didn't include a swim with the penguins, though by the end of the day we did slightly look like we had done just that...).

While yes, some animals are outdoorsy ones that you unfortunately won't be able to see when the weather takes a turn for the worst, luckily there are plenty of covered parts to the park that don't just keep the animals dry but visitors too. As you enter London Zoo, the first such an area you'll come across (and one that is perfect to hide out in during the worst of the rainfall) is the impressive Reptile House. Home to snakes and reptiles of all kinds, it's probably best known as an iconic location for the first Harry Potter film (a different location in the book), and I'm not going to deny I did a little squeal of delight when I spotted the information sign talking about the famous scene where Harry vanishes the glass in front of the boa constrictor while his cousin Dudley is being a royal pain.





Next up we had a little wander through the park as it was spitting only a little bit, and we discovered the best bit to visiting the Zoo when the weather is uncooperative: despite it being smack-down in the middle of the summer holidays and top tourist season, the park was peacefully quiet and we could enjoy prime spots at all animal enclosures without having to maneuver ourselves or our cameras around hordes of people. Bliss. Quite a few of the animals had indoor areas in addition to outdoors ones, so they could hide from the weather and we could still see them.





Others, like the otters and penguins, definitely seemed to thrive with the rain cascading down onto them. We spent a particularly long time with the meerkats and otters (arguably the cutest animals in the entire park!) and especially loved watching the feeding of the otters as they left the comfort of their warm hole to dive for the fish. The zookeeper holding the talk during the feeding was also very pleasant and informative, providing interesting facts for adults and kids alike.







Next up in our mission to hide from the rain we dove into the Butterfly Paradise. Inside a giant plastic caterpillar is a heated environment perfect for butterflies, moths and caterpillars to thrive and while the enclosure was small in size, the closeness of the animals made it a great experience. And, if you wear bright clothes, you might just get a little hitchhiker tagging along – which the kids we saw loved. Though do make sure you check if any butterflies are sticking to your clothes before you leave their cosy sanctuary, as they wouldn't like it very much outside in the typical British weather.





After a much-needed hot drink in the restaurant (hot chocolate topped high with whipped cream for me and my sister, and a tea for my brother) we ventured over to the relatively new Land of the Lions. The rain was getting more persistent at this stage and so sadly the beautiful colours of the shops and station portraying India were kind of washed out on my photos, however while we feared the lions may be elusive with the rain pouring down, as soon as we entered this area we saw their impressive forms laying in front of the glass and we spent quite a while ooh-ing and aah-ing over how incredibly close these majestic animals were. I love cats and these are just extra big and extra fluffy versions, aren't they? ♥





Last on our indoor tour of the zoo in an attempt to not become drowned rats, we went into the aquarium area, which was a lot bigger than I expected. They have tons of awesome things here from clown fish like Nemo, to sea horses and turtles. I love watching sea life and coral anyway (it reminds me of when I went to Australia for a year and went snorkeling along the Great Barrier Reef, which was an awe-inspiring experience), but even if you're indifferent to fish, the diversity of the sea creatures here means there is something to enjoy for everyone and so this is one spot in the zoo you definitely cannot miss; whether it rains or is sunny.





Some final top tips for a rainy day at the park... Bring a waterproof leightweight jacket and an umbrella for each member of your party (it sounds logical but uhm we may not have been entirely prepared), map out a route that involves indoor enclosures to hide out in during the worst of the rainfall, and head for the restaurant for a well-earned break to warm up with a hot drink!

London Zoo is located in Regent's Park and is compactly laid out, making it easy to do everything in a single day (or half a day, if you really whizz by all of the animals without going to any of the feedings or shows) and – when the weather is uncooperative – shelter is always nearby, which is a big bonus. For more information, such a full list of opening times and ticket prices, visit the official website.


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