Halloween at London Zoo

Giraff Mollie at ZSL London

Giraff Mollie at ZSL London - Credit: Archant

There’s still time to book a ticket for the Regent’s Park attraction and get up close to some awe-inspiring wildlife

Humboldt penguins at ZSL London

Humboldt penguins at ZSL London - Credit: Archant

There’s still time to book a half term visit to London Zoo and get up close to some awe-inspiring animals.

The Regent’s Park attraction has halved its capacity to ensure a safe, socially distanced visit, but most of the exhibits are open.

Everyone under three is asked to wear a mask indoors, and the Zoo cafe is table-service only so perhaps take a picnic to avoid the queues.

There are three colour-coded routes through the zoo to avoid congestion, and donning our penguin and tiger masks from the shop, we set off first on the Orange route.

Lemurs at ZSL London

Lemurs at ZSL London - Credit: Archant

After a visit to ZSL’s waddle of Humboldt penguins, who were enjoying a swim in the rain, the walk-through butterfly enclosure brought us face to face with the world’s largest moth - the Atlas - and we were so glad they were asleep.

As were all four Asiatic lions in Land of the Lions, sheltering from the weather on their heated stones, which gave us a chance to get within inches of them.

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Later, in the tropical heat of Rainforest Life, we tip-toed around a sleeping toe-toed sloth, wrapped around a tree with her baby’s arm just visible.

Below her, an inquisitive Lion Tamarin was keen to get her hands on a nut in one of the prams before scrambling back across a branch.

Giraffes Maggie and Mollie were also indoors, peering out of their purpose-built house, which dates back to 1836 and is one of the oldest Zoo buildings still in use.

Further along the Pink Route, the otters and Lemurs didn’t seem to mind the drizzle as they played together and groomed each other.

True to the Halloween spirit, we shivered at the spiders in the BUGS exhibit’s webby walk through, and marvelled at the skin of an Inland Taipan in ZSL’s famous Reptile House. Drop for drop its venom is the deadliest in the world, so it’s lucky they are shy and don’t get out much.

Only Jimmy the gibbon, the Zoo’s most attention-seeking occupant refused to come out and show off as usual.

It’s these close encounters - getting within a breath of a Sumatran tiger to see his facial stripes - that are always the surprising joy of a visit to the Zoo and make the puddles worthwhile.

Like many national treasures ZSL, and its numerous worldwide animal conservation projects, have taken a financial hit from Coronovirus. Supporters including Sir David Attenborough are encouraging those who love it to buy a ticket or make a donation at www.zsl.org