Couple marry at zoo swapping rings recycled from an old aviary

ZSL London Zoo

Matt Robbins and Alison Russell from Romford got married at London Zoo last weekend swapping rings recycled from the mesh of the Snowdon Aviary - Credit: ZSL London Zoo

A couple married at London Zoo, exchanging wedding bands made out of salvaged aluminum from a former aviary.

Animal lovers Matt Robbins and Alison Russell from Romford have long loved the Regent's Park attraction and spent many dates there during their five year relationship.

And when they married on October 9, they swapped one-off rings recycled from the metal mesh that covered the Grade II listed Snowdon Aviary.

The happy couple with Charlie the penguin

The happy couple with Charlie the penguin - Credit: ZSL London Zoo

The enclosure is being restored and repurposed to hold a troup of black and white colobus monkeys. ZSL designers forged the bespoke rings in the on-site workshop from some of the 3,800 square metres of 56-year-old aluminium removed during the work.

The couple had to postpone their wedding from October 2020 due to the pandemic and the Zoo's chief operating officer Kathryn England said: "When we heard that Matt and Alison had rearranged their wedding date, we saved some of the mesh removed in July to make these special rings.


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"It seemed fitting for these two lovebirds, especially since the Aviary was a romantic gesture from its very inception. Legend has it that Lord Snowdon, when designing the Aviary in the 1960s, placed a secret tribute to his wife, Princess Margaret - when viewed from above, the walkway formed the shape of an ‘M’."

ZSL London Zoo

During their special day the couple visited ring-tailed lemur Spike, Ande the Llama and Bactrian camels Noemie and Genghis. - Credit: ZSL London Zoo

 Matt, 39, said: “Whenever we visited we’d see the Aviary rising high above the treeline as we approached – it felt like it marked our arrival to what is such a special place for us. As animal lovers, we’ve always been supporters of the wildlife conservation at the Zoo and we couldn’t think of anywhere more fitting to celebrate our marriage.”  

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Conceived by Lord Snowdon, the Aviary was pioneering in its use of aluminium and tension for support, and was Britain’s first walk-through bird exhibit when it opened in 1965. It will reopen as Monkey Valley in summer 2022, restoring its famous silhouette to the London skyline thanks to a £4 million National Lottery Heritage fund grant.

Alison, 36, added: “We can’t wait to visit the new Monkey Valley when it opens, especially knowing that we’re carrying a part of its history with us.” 

https://www.zsl.org/zsl-london-zoo/exhibits/monkey-valley-opening-2022  

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