B.U.G.S (Biodiversity Underpinning Global Survival) is the zoo’s cutting edge biodiversity and Conservation exhibit. It is also the main place where invertebrates – animals without backbones – are displayed in the zoo, including insects, spiders, millipedes and lots of other creepy crawlies.
Housed in an exciting building called the Milennium Conservation Centre, opened in 1999 as a UK Lotteries Fund supported project, B.U.G.S! is designed to explain what biodiversity - quite simply the variety of life on the planet - is all about, and why we need to conserve it.
There are over 140 species kept in BUGS, the vast majority of which are invertebrates, although we are also home to a few mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. Invertebrates are fundamental to biodiversity - for example over 95% of animals do not have a backbone, and there are over 1 million species of insect! Invertebrates are vital for the survival of all ecosystems, as amongst other things they are primary pollinators and recyclers, and also provide food for other animals.
BUGS uses a combination of living animals and modern interpretation methods to bring the exhibit to life. The exhibit is also designed so there are views behind the scenes, so you can often see the keepers at work in the climate controlled breeding rooms!
The sleepover with a difference... Stay overnight in the BUG house at ZSL London Zoo. Bug-tastic fun for 8-11 years old.
Explore the zoo by torchlight and wake up to the sounds of the animals. Plus games, story-telling, talks - all animal themed of course! Breakfast is included.
Watch out for...
- The amazing leaf cutter ant nest at the entrance, walking out on their ropes where you can see them carrying leaves many times their own weight, right before your eyes (please don’t touch!)
- Huge locust swarm display
- Cockroach sink (yeuch!)
- Micrarium for miniature wildlife, like brine shrimps and Daphnia
- Giant orb spiders on their webs
- Cave crickets (look into the bubble if you dare…)
- Weird naked mole rats in their underground tunnels
- Incredibly beautiful moon jellyfish tank
- See directly into the hive of our Honeybees
- Discover why maggots are useful…
- See Bali starlings in their aviary, only a handful of which survive in the wild
- Spot our cute little rare Golden mantella frogs
- Polynesian tree snail breeding room, many species of which are extinct in the wild
The International Partula Conservation Programme has been co-ordinated by ZSL since 1994 involves a managed breeding programme for 25 species of partula snail in 15 zoos worldwide, together with extensive work in the species natural range areas with local conservationists and government agencies.
So, you want to know more about our creepy crawlie friends. Here goes:
- An ant 3mm long has been observed dragging prey 6mm long back to its nest. This is equivalent to a human dragging a small car by their teeth over a distance of 8km
- A particular Asian moth has evolved to feed on the tears of buffalo.
- Fireflies are beetles that use light to attract a mate.
- A colony of army ants may reach over 700,000 individuals.
- When a flea jumps it accelerates at a rate 20x faster than a rocket being launched into space
- Without bees we would have little in the way of fruit, vegetables or sugar. As pollinators they are vital to the life cycle of many plants
- The combined weight of all the insects in the world is 12 times greater than the weight of the entire human population.
- For every human alive, there are 200 million insects.
- To avoid being eaten, stick insects hold their twig-lie bodies and legs at the correct angle on a branch, they even sway like twigs when a breeze blows.
- Malaysian giant stick insect eggs are just 4mm wide, but when the baby stick insects hatch they are already 70cm long!