When my kids’ school was closed the other day because of broken water mains, we wanted to do something that is usually difficult because it is too crowded. The weather was not brilliant, but dry and my kids really, really wanted to go to the zoo.
I have to admit that in spite of having three kids I had not been to the London zoo for for over 10 years. I would have loved to go and introduce real life animals to my children but when I first visited the London zoo in probably 2004, I was shocked. I need to explain that we had lived in Hanover, Germany, for a few years. In connection with the World Exhibition 2000 there they had heavily invested in the Hanover Zoo and created an amazing space for both animals and humans. Seriously, if you are ever in the area (I know, unlikely), you have to visit it! After seeing generous sized enclosures, meeting as many of the animals’ needs as possible in captivity, the small cages in London reminding me of those used by Victorian travelling circuses, were plainly shocking. But the kids were too excited – I decided to give the zoo a chance. And I’m glad I did. Long gone are the days of sad tigers pacing up and down the whole length of their 5m of wire netting fence. The enclosures are bigger, more varied and give the animals a chance to withdraw from curious visitors. We were lucky as we went on a non holiday weekday with okayish weather. Hardly anyone else seemed to be there and we had a prime position for all the shows and talks and feeding sessions. Happy kids – happy (and exhausted) mum.