ZSL London Zoo is a venue that truly needs no introduction. It's been a beloved part of the capital since 1828, enjoyed by wide-eyed children and nostalgic adults alike. A zoo. In London. What's not to love?
What's perhaps not obvious is that ZSL London Zoo also opens its doors to a multitude of events – spoiler alert: there are 13 separate venues within the zoo. And let's face it: what other venue promises event spaces such as Penguin Beach and Tiger Territory?
We thought the best way to showcase ZSL London Zoo would be by the numbers. So here are some facts and figures that'd make even a brown bat jump to attention. (The brown bat is the animal that sleeps the most, by the way: 19.9 hours a day, on average. Must be nice.)
36: The number of acres covered by the zoological gardens in Regent's Park, holding a total of 18,830 animals, including Sumatran tigers, armadillos, warthogs, gorillas, clownfish, hornbills, poison dart frogs and everything in between.
So, naturally, with that sort of wide-open space, the venue lends itself to hosting parties with large guest lists.
13: The number of event spaces in the park. The Terrace is a popular choice for big functions, accommodating up to 800 people. It's a perfect choice for summer parties, as guests can spill out into the gardens as they sip on cocktails and mingle with friends and colleagues.
The exquisite Prince Albert Suite, meanwhile, welcomes up to 300 guests for events ranging from conferences and meetings to corporate dinners and parties – with the highlight on sunny days being the private rooftop terrace.
And, because it's ZSL London Zoo, some of the other event spaces are ones you'd find nowhere else. Hold a reception with drinks and bowl food at the Land of the Lions, viewing beautiful Asiatic lions (and with a chance to stay overnight in the Gir Lion Lodge, authentically modelled after the original ones in India).
Or, host a summer party at Penguin Beach, Europe's biggest penguin pool. Invite up to 300 people for cocktails or Champagne and canapés while watching the playful critters hit the pool – 70 Humboldt penguins in total, to be specific.
Then there's the Aquarium. Here's a little-known fact: this was the world's very 1st public aquarium – and the word "aquarium" itself was even coined by the man who stocked the zoo's tanks with the marvellous marine life.
Today, it'll hold up to 300 guests for standing receptions, with backdrops of colourful butterflyfish, plus menacing red-bellied piranhas and freshwater stingrays – which can grow up to 50cm in width, by the way. There's a networking icebreaker for you.
2001: The year that Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was released. A memorable scene featuring a Burmese Python was filmed at the zoo's Reptile House – even though the inhabitant of that particular tank is actually an equally fearsome black mamba. (Age of Daniel Radcliffe back then? 12.)
That same Reptile House is yet another event space for up to 200 guests, or up to 80 for a seated dinner. And while you eat, so can the Philippine crocodiles, with a possible live feed arrangeable during the event. Along with these crocs (that have been known to reach up to 10ft in length), you'll also see boas, chameleons and iguanas, to name but a few of the scaly beasts.
Let's take a breather from venue spaces to mention some fun fauna facts.
0: The number of quagga left today. One of this now-extinct zebra species resided at ZSL London Zoo, and was the only one ever to be photographed, in a series between 1864 and 1870. The zoo also kept Tasmanian tigers, of which there are also sadly 0 today.
1914: But to be a tad more cheery – here's a genuinely fascinating story about one of fiction's most-loved characters.
In 1914, a Canadian lieutenant donated his pet Canadian black bear, Winnipeg, to the zoo. He was an instant favourite with kids, one of which was named Christopher Robin, who used to visit London Zoo with his father, A.A. Milne. And thus Winnipeg – or Winnie the Pooh – became Christopher Robin's best friend in the pages of one of the world's most cherished book series.
While we shed a tear for that heartwarming story, let's get back to venues, and B.U.G.S.! If you're a fan of the smaller creatures in life, host a cocktails-and-canapés reception at this house of 140 small animals and invertebrates, with an expansive outdoor terrace that's perfect for summer parties. At the same time, you can marvel at the leafcutter ants, black-widow spiders and Giant African land snails – whose shells grow up to a whopping 18cm in length.
80%: How much of its own body weight a komodo dragon can eat in one go. So don't let your canapés get too close to resident dragon Ganas if you're hosting your event at the Attenborough Komodo Dragon House – opened by national treasure Sir David Attenborough in 2004. It's ideal for smaller parties, of up to 80 people, who'll be fascinated by the prehistoric creature. And that's no exaggeration: fossils of a very similar animal found in Australia date back 3.8 million years. That's older than both my parents combined.
208728: The registered charity number of ZSL. We couldn't end the piece without mentioning the vital conservation work that ZSL carries out on a global scale, working with other organisations to protect animals and their habitats, from Panama to Indonesia. From assisting in halting the illegal wildlife trade to protecting seahorses in the Philippines, the charity's work continues to be momentous, ever since its foundation in 1826.
So there you go. That's 982 words on London Zoo.
To find out more about hiring the remarkable ZSL London Zoo for your next event, or to make an enquiry, click here.