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Last Friday I was invited by ZSL to experience London Zoo in a whole new light at their Sunset Safari. Taking place every Friday between June 3rd – July 15th, Sunset Safari gives you the opportunity to explore the zoo at dusk (6pm – 10pm) as well as the various other activities taking place. Having visited the previously named ‘Zoo Lates’ in past years, I was curious to the see the changes that had been made under the new branding. The first pleasant surprise was the more laid back relaxed atmosphere as opposed to the loud party vibes of the Zoo Lates days.
The main hub of entertainment takes place in ‘base camp’, away from the animals, here there are plenty of lazy boy bean bags and chairs to sit on while listening to acoustic jams and smooth jazz, I am a massive fan of the new mellow direction that Sunset Safari has taken, not only from the animal welfare point of view, but also because it makes for a great environment to relax on a summer’s evening after work. Face painters are situated by base camp, so I urge you to find your inner child and join in the fun, you will not be alone! Also in this area you will find stalls selling alcohol, a photo booth and an amazing Brownie stall, which I have completely forgotten the name of, but they are delicious!
A world food market is available if you feel hungry, which samples the culinary delights of more than 15 of London’s best independent food stalls. These range from buttermilk chicken burgers, falafel wraps, pulled pork, polish dumplings and incredible mac’n’cheese truffle bites. You guys know I am a massive street food fan, so this was obviously a highlight for me, but it really does at to the whole chilled festival theme of the evening and they have got some really great food businesses on display. Another thing I absolutely loved were the people dressed beautifully as Lions, Zebras, Antelopes, and even Giraffes, the costumes were reminiscent of intricate designs used in The Lion King musical, they gracefully wandered around base camp bringing to life the spirit of the animal kingdom, I was so impressed ( and also really want to go to see The Lion King again!). Aside from all the things I have mentioned there is obviously the opportunity to explore the zoo, there are lots of opportunities to hear various talks helping to bring the whole night together with a strong conservation and education message. I will only support a Zoo that has a strong stand on conservation and where education is focal point, ZSL are fantastic at this. If you are unaware of the amazing work that the ZSL conservation fund are doing then please visit here to find out.
Various parts of the zoo were closed off; such as a the Gorillas, but this was purely for welfare reasons and to not disrupt routine, despite this there was still so much to see, including the incredible new Land of the Lions and my particular favourite – the rainforest exhibit, where we were lucky enough to see the adorable Sloth sleep unfazed right above our heads. Make sure you also visit the ‘in with the spiders’ exhibit, a walk through with the Golden Orb spiders, I am not a spider fan but seeing them up close has given me a change of heart towards these beautiful fascinating creatures.
The only downside to the evening? The kids. Now this may seem slightly harsh; but in previous years these evenings have always over 18, the only time when children are not allowed in the zoo, but this year there seemed to be a lot of young children around. I did dislike this because the over 18 aspect meant education could be targeted at a different level to how it normally is during the day; which I think is necessary to engage and impact people correctly. I personally would prefer it to go back to the adult only evenings; however saying that it would not stop me attending again, and I am actually planning on with a few friends again this summer.
Tickets for Sunset Safari start at £19.50, with additional upgrades are available for VIP guided tours. Tickets can be purchased in advance from the ZSL website . Festivals vibes, good food and a few drinks makes Sunset Safari a great alternative for a summer evening in London, but do not skip learning about the beautiful animals that call this place their home, they are the amazing ambassadors for the incredible conservation efforts that ZSL are working on every day.
Blogger transparency: I was a guest at Sunset Safari but as always all opinions and my crazy love of animals is all my own.