Landmarks in ZSL History

Since Sir Stamford Raffles founded ZSL in 1826, there have been many achievements at ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, as well as in our conservation work in the wild.

1826

The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is founded by Stamford Raffles.
 

1828

  • London Zoo opens to Fellows of the Society, and to the public with a written 'order' from a Fellow and payment of 1 shilling.
  • Lady Raffles appointed as first woman Fellow.
 

1829

The Zoological Society of London is granted a Royal Charter by King George IV.  
 

1830

Scientific Meetings started. First issue of the Proceedings of the Zoological Society published.
 

1831

Royal animal collection from the Tower of London presented to ZSL.
 

1835

Chimpanzee exhibited at London Zoo for the first time.
 

1837

Charles Darwin becomes a Fellow of ZSL.
 

1847

Public admitted to London Zoo without an 'order' from a Fellow.
 

1849

World's first Reptile House opened at London Zoo.
 

1850

Arrival of the hippopotamus Obaysch - the first living hippo to be seen in Europe.
 

1853

First ever public Aquarium opened at London Zoo.
 

1865

Jumbo, the first African elephant seen alive in England, received from Paris.
 

1881

World's first Insect House opened at London Zoo.
 

1914

Winnie the bear deposited at London Zoo. She was the inspiration for 'Winnie-the-pooh'.
 

1916

Evelyn Cheesman appointed Assistant Curator of Insects, the first woman in a curatorial post.
 

1926

As the twentieth century dawned the need to keep and study large animals in more natural surroundings became apparent. Sir Peter Chalmers Mitchell (ZSL Secretary 1903-35) envisaged a new park no more than 70 miles from London, over 200 acres in size and easily accessible to the visiting public. In 1926 an ideal site was found, derelict Hall Farm, near Whipsnade village, nearly 600 acres on the Chiltern Downs. ZSL purchased the farm in December 1926 for £13,480 12s 10d.
 

1928

The first animals arrived at Whipsnade Wild Animal Park - two Amherst pheasants, a golden pheasant and five red jungle fowl. Others soon followed including muntjac, llama, wombats and skunks.
 

1931

Whipsnade Wild Animal Park opens - the world's first open zoological park.
 

1938

Children's Zoo opened at London Zoo.
 

1939

Start of Second World War. The Giant pandas, elephants and rhinos were sent to Whipsnade. London Zoo closed briefly from 3-9 September, but remained open throughout the rest of the War.
 

1947

Guy the gorilla arrives at London Zoo.
 

1960 and 1961

The Institute of Zoology is established. Lord Zuckerman, then Secretary of ZSL, raised funds from two medical foundations to found laboratories where scientists would be employed by ZSL and undertake research.
 

1962

'Caroline' an Arabian oryx is lent to the world herd in Phoenix, Arizona, the first international co-operative breeding programme.
 

1967

Whipsnade breed the first cheetahs born in Europe.
 

1986

ZSL co-ordinates the release of Pere David's deer in Da Feng, China. The release includes deer bred at Whipsnade.
 

1995

The release of 100 sand gazelles into the Empty Quarter, Saudi Arabia - the world's largest release of captive-bred mammals.
 

1997

His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh opens Whipsnade's new Elephant House.
 

1998

The release of 4,000 rare British field crickets into southern England.
 

1999

Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, officially opened the Millennium Conservation Centre, which houses BUGS, the biodiversity exhibition.
ZSL launches its first website.
 

2001

ZSL celebrated 175 year and Whipsnade Zoo celebrated 80 year anniversaries.
 

2004

  • Komodo Island of Dragons enclosure opened by Sir David Attenborough.
  • Meet the Monkeys walkthrough exhibit for the squirrel monkeys opened.
  • African Bird Safari walkthrough opened.
 

2006

ZSL assists in rescuing approximately 950 exotic fish and coral illegally imported from Indonesia seized at Heathrow.
 

2007 

  • Gorilla Kingdom opens at ZSL London Zoo.
  • EDGE of Existence programme launched   concentrating on world’s most Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered species.
 

2008

  • Blackburn Pavilion opened in March, ZSL London Zoo
  • Outback exhibit opened August, ZSL London Zoo
  • Opening of Rhinos of Nepal, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo
 

2009

  • Animal Adventure opens with red pandas, aardvarks, and prairie dogs on display.
  • Giants of the Galapagos opens.
 

2010

  • Once thought of extinct Horton Plains slender loris discovered in Sri Lanka by ZSL, with first ever photos.
  • Three part ITV documentary ‘The Zoo,’aired on prime time television.
 

2011

Penguin Beach opens at ZSL London Zoo - England's biggest penguin pool.
 

2013

Opening of Tiger Territory, a 2,500sqm (27,000sqft) enclosure for tigers that replicates their natural Indonesian habitat. 
 

2014

Thug and Nicky, two pygmy hippos, move into a new custom built enclosure. Complete with solar panels to power their own indoor heated pools. 

 

Today

ZSL London Zoo houses a wonderful range of reptiles, fish, invertebrates, birds and mammals. Of the more than 650 species at ZSL London Zoo, 112 are listed as threatened in the Red Data Books . ZSL London Zoo participates in breeding programmes for 130 species.