Friday, April 27, 2018

ZSL London Zoo

The Sumatran Tiger, Jae Jae, cuddles his mate, Melati, in Tiger Territory.
ZSL London Zoo is one of the best zoos in the country, if not the world. It is a place that is constantly evolving, which offers something new on each visit. It is a place that all of my children love, regardless of their age on each visit.

With the Snowdon Aviary being the next big regeneration project, I cannot wait to see what happens after its completion.

Brief History

In 1826 the Zoological Society of London was founded, by Sir Stamford Raffles, with the zoo being opened in 1828. The collection began as a place for scientific study, making it the oldest scientific zoo in the world.

Between 1830 and 1832 the animals from the Tower of London menagerie were transferred to the zoo, with Sir Charles Darwin becoming a fellow of the ZSL a few years later.

In 1847 the zoo opened to the public for the first time. Then, in 1849, ZSL London Zoo opened the world's first reptile house, with the world's first aquatic vivarium opening the following year. The zoo abbreviated aquatic vivarium to aquarium, thus creating the word.

Okapi were discovered by the zoo, in 1901, and they have been instrumental in their well being, ever since.

In 1931, following a need to expand Whipsnade Wild Animal Park is opened, which is the world's first open zoological park.

In 1947, following the World War II, Guy the Gorilla takes up residence at the zoo.

Throughout the 1960s new ground is constantly broken:

  • New laboratories are built to aid in ZSL research. 
  • The first international co-operative breeding programme between the UK and the USA sees as Arabian Oryx sent to Phoenix, Arizona.
  • The first list of threatened species is established.
  • Whipsnade Zoo breed the first Cheetahs born in Europe.
Throughout the 1980s ZSL London Zoo was in a financial state and, in 1991, was on the brink of closure. Thankfully, a public outpouring of support and donations allowed it to balance its books and to invest in its future.

In 1995 ZSL LOndon Zoo was instrumental in the release of 100 gazelles into Saudi Arabia, which was the largest release of captive-bred animals at that time. 1999 saw the MillenniuM Conservation Centre opened, which included a biodiversity exhibit.

The 21st century saw ZSL London Zoo going from strength-to-strength:
  • 2004 - Sir David Attenborough opens the Komodo Island of Dragons enclosure.
  • 2006 - ZSL London Zoo assists in the rescue of exotic fish and coral, which have been smuggled into Heathrow from Indonesia.
  • 2010 - ZSL discover Horton Plains Slender Loris, in Sri Lanka. These primates were believed to be extinct.
  • 2011 - Penguin Beach, the largest Penguin pool in the UK, opens at ZSL London Zoo.
  • 2013 - Tiger Territory, an Indonesian landscaped habitat, covering 2,500sqm, opens at ZSL London Zoo.
  • 2015 - The first walk through spider enclosure is opened at ZSL London Zoo.
As of March 2018:
ZSL London Zoo has 19289 animals split across 661 species.
ZSL Whipsnade Zoo has 3626 animals across 195 species.

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