In London, Fridays in June and July can only mean one thing… Zoo Lates! This is the time of year when London Zoo opens its doors after hours to the public. As the name suggests, all the animal enclosures stay open a bit longer but there are also other things to see and do.
There is improv comedy like that of Fast and Loose, cabaret, food and drink galore and a silent disco where you don a pair of headphones and can dance away to your heart’s content without offending the animals.
There were plenty of opportunities to buy animal onesies, masks or get your face painted. At first it was quite odd to see a tiger walking around… but you soon got used to it! As the evening went on, the majority of people transformed into animals one way or another. I’m sure that alcohol played a big part in most cases!
I’d warn anyone going that food and drink can be quite expensive and really add up, so make sure you bring enough cash. Beer or wine (barely a glassful) was £4+.
And any bottles were plastic rather than glass.
Prices aside, I couldn’t fault the wide choice of food. You could have fish & chips, curry, sushi, Ghanaian food, paella… There was so much choice it was daunting. We had to make the circuit several times before being able to decide.
In the end, we were insensitive and went for ostrich and buffalo burgers:
Buffalo with mustard and cheese
Ostrich and onions
I was tempted by the unusual, sickly sounding milkshakes on offer:
Paying extra £££ would give you an added shot of Baileys or vodka. Instead we were happy enough with free beer samples that came in dinky little glasses:
… and the cupcakes stall (this goes without saying):
Despite the rain, the animals hadn’t lost their spirits. Most of them were outside. Even the gorillas. Drinks in hand, we watched the penguins being fed...
...then retreated into the aquarium when the rain got silly. Underwater life fascinates me. I love the colours of the sea bed and how different the light is:
Can you spot the teeny star fish?
To sum it all up, I really enjoyed Zoo Lates and will definitely be going back again next summer. There was a really relaxed, festival sort of vibe to it. My only criticism is that it was very commercial. It was all quite expensive and was less about the animals. It was so packed it was hard to actually see certain animals like the big cats. If you’re going for animal sighting purposes, I would suggest you go to London Zoo on a regular day.
And if you’re conflicted about zoos and the whole animals being caged up dealio, an event like this may be a way to dip your toes in the water so to speak, and to inspect their living conditions for yourself. While London Zoo’s admission prices absolutely kill me, I like to think that the money is going towards a good cause and helping with all the conservation work that they do. Tickets for Zoo Lates need to be bought in advance – you can’t get on the door. We saw quite a few people without tickets being turned away. Also, this is 18+ event FYI.
Have you ever been to Zoo Lates?