Zoo Lates at London Zoo
Every Friday night during the Summer, there’s a bit of a shindig going down at London Zoo. Professing itself to be ‘London’s Wildest Night Out’, Zoo Lates offers a festivalesque atmosphere with bars, street food, comedy, cabaret, a silent disco, circus performers plus a chance to see the animals after hours. Fancy dress is encouraged and given that I wish I could dress in fancy dress every day of the week, I got QUITE EXCITED.
One of my favourite ever things (aside from fancy dress) is collective nouns for animals (A murmuration of starlings! A murder of crows! A BEVY OF LARKS!), so I teamed up with my ‘Ridiculous of Friends’ and we strolled into the Zoo, game for face paint, a few delicious drinks on a balmy summers evening and to say hi to some of nature’s finest.
Now, the first thing to say about Zoo Lates is that IT AIN’T CHEAP MY LOVES. Tickets cost anything up to £35, and once you’re in there, stuff comes at a premium, so take cash. Drinks are about a fiver (gulp), face painting is a fiver, Silent Disco requires a £10 deposit etc etc etc. Also, you are WELCOME to bring picnics in, but no smuggled in alcohol, so get that hip flask out of your knickers immediately. We headed straight to get our faces painted, to make ourselves look even more ridiculous than usual.
Suitably glittered up, we grabbed a drink and began a wander round the Zoo. We took in the reptile house, the gorillas, the tigers, the rainforest house, giraffes, hippos and monkeys all gadding about.
Something niggled me however as we wandered around, something that surprised me somewhat. As we were herded into the Gorilla kingdom and clapped our eyes on the huge Silverback that pads about the enclosure, I suddenly felt just quite sad. I’m not a huge animal activist and don’t pretend to be, but suddenly it all just felt a little bit freak-show-y. There’s no denying that these evenings make THOUSANDS OF POUNDS for the Zoo which I’m sure goes towards conservation, science and animal welfare, but some articles have been thrown up recently about the effect these nights have on the animals due to the actions of a few who let the five-pound-pints go to their heads too quickly. So parts of it sparked a few funny feelings.
However, it was a beautiful Summer’s evening and away from all the animal enclosures the atmosphere really was becoming all midsummery and festive!
Grabbing a seat away from all the animal action we set up camp to to soak up the sunsets, a few cold beers and the general atmosphere.
Shortly after these Technicolour Sunset pictures were taken, the heavens opened and it BUCKETED down leaving hundreds of folks waddling back to the tube with smeary facepaint weeping down their faces. I left weary for my bed with some lopsided giraffe ears, glitter everywhere, and some food for thought to munch on.
I just really hope the Gorillas got some sleep too.
Zoo Lates is at London Zoo every Friday evening during the Summer but is now SOLD OUT for 2014.
If you’d like to visit the Zoo at another time, see below for visiting details.
Tel: 0207 449 6200