Sara Wheeler on Penguins

ZSL conservation scientists and keepers team up with leading writers to talk about the animals in ZSL London Zoo. Alongside the animals, the writers speak imaginatively about their responses to them and ZSL’s experts talk about their ecology and conservation.

The audience will be able to ask questions of author, scientist and keeper and have books signed over a glass of wine.

These unique evenings will be held within the animal exhibits of ZSL London Zoo.

Sara Wheeler:

When Sara Wheeler spent seven months camping in the Antarctic, queues of Emperor penguins wouldn’t leave her alone – they after all belonged there, whereas she was just a writer. In ZSL London Zoo, roles are reversed. In this talk Sara reflects on the loveable penguin – nature’s satire on humanity.

Sara Wheeler is a British travel writer noted for her accounts of Polar Regions - including the international bestseller Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica. Her book The Magnetic North: Notes from the Arctic Circle, was chosen as Book of the Year by Will Self, Michael Palin and A. N. Wilson, among others. She has also written biographies of travellers, most recently O My America!, the lives pioneering nineteenth-century British women. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Penguin underwater at penguin beach

Featuring Professor Tim Blackburn: Director of ZSL/Institute of Zoology

With ZSL Penguin Keeper Vicky Fyson: Vicky worked with many animals at ZSL, including aardvarks, meerkats and coatis, before moving over to the bird department where she primarily works with the penguins. This includes Macaroni, African, Northern Rockhopper and Humboldts. Vicky has a BSc in Applied animal studies (Hons): She has done a dissertation and a HND on Animal Welfare and Conservation. She has also volunteered in Sabah, Borneo with orang-utans, and Pandas in Bifengxia, China.

Chaired by poet and ZSL Council Member Ruth Padel: Ruth is a British poet and writer with close connections to conservation, wildlife, Greece and music. She has published a novel, eight works of non-fiction and eight poetry collections, most recently The Mara Crossing, which mixes poems and prose to explore migration.


Venue: ZSL London Zoo Penguin Beach
Doors and cash bar opens: 6.30pm

Talks commence from 7pm (followed by q&a)
Meet the Author, book signing and cash bar until: 9pm

Alcoholic & soft drinks cash bar will be available throughout the evening

Entry point into the Zoo for this talk will be the Zoos Fast Track entrance
Directions to ZSL London Zoo

Tickets: £12

For phone bookings please contact: 0844 225 1826 - Mon to Sun (8.30am - 5pm)

For more information or further booking enquiries please email


In partnership with The Royal Society of London

logo of Royal Society of Literature

The Royal Society of Literature was founded by George IV in 1820. It celebrates and nurtures all that is best in British literature, past and present, as well as organise around twenty events a year; make awards and grants to established and emerging writers; run regular Masterclasses and campaign on issues affecting writers, such as the closure of local libraries.

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