Welcome to London Zoo, and Merry Christmas!

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Our ZSL London Zoo Christmas tree at St Pancras International celebrates some of the wonderful residents that share this great city at their home at the zoo.

For almost 200 years, the zoo has given Londoners and visitors the chance to be wowed by some of the most fantastic, extraordinary wildlife in the world.

From Obaysch – the first hippo Londoners had ever seen, to Guy the gorilla who arrived one fireworks night and captured the hearts of the nation, through to our current residents who include Rainbow the penguin who beat the odds after her egg was broken, and Brian the African grey parrot who does a mean impression of a tractor.

 Obaysch, the common hippo, by Frederick York, circa 1870.
Photograph of Obaysch by Frederick York, circa 1870.

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And behind the scenes our conservation work around the world is bringing threatened wildlife back from the brink of extinction, including some of the native species that make ‘Mother Thames’ their home.

Christmas is the perfect time to enjoy the zoo, as it comes to life for our Magic of Christmas event. If you’ve never spent your festivities with a flamingo, might we suggest you are missing out.

And you don’t need to keep the meerkats all to yourself – Christmas at the zoo can be the gift that keeps on ‘gibbon’ – when you purchase Gift Membership for the animal lover in your life. Treat them to a whole year of wonder-full days out at ZSL London and Whipsnade Zoos, and support ZSL to create a world where wildlife thrives at the same time. Be quick, Gift Memberships are 20% off for a limited time only!

Here’s a bit more about some of the animals that feature on St Pancras' ZSL London Zoo Christmas tree:

12 Penguins Feeding

Rainbow the penguin chick enjoys a swim

Rainbow the Humboldt penguin was just a tiny egg when her shell was accidentally broken by her parents and quick-thinking keepers rescued her – astonished she had survived. Our vets put her in an incubator straight away, and keepers spend weeks feeding her ‘penguin milkshakes’ three times a day with a syringe. Now she is a visitor favourite, has a smart rainbow-coloured wing tag, and hangs out at the pool with 73 other penguins.


11 parrots squawking

African grey parrot

Brian the African grey penguin is a firm favourite with our keepers. Every morning he spends his time imitating their radios, vehicles and voices – keeping everyone on their toes!


10 lemurs leaping

Spike the ring-tailed lemur was one of the animals who starred in a hilarious TV campaign when the zoo was closed during the pandemic. A group of comedians including Jonathan Ross and Bill Bailey donated their time to voice different animals – with spike the lemur being voiced by Josh Widdicombe, star of C4’s The Last Leg.


9 monkeys climbing

Squirrel monkeys woke up to find a new Christmas climbing frame in their In With the Monkeys home at ZSL London Zoo

Climbing monkeys aren’t hard to find at the zoos – from cheeky black-capped squirrel monkeys, to regal Diana monkeys. But the most exciting news on the horizon is Monkey Valley, which opens next summer. The enormous exhibit will give our colobus monkeys the chance to swing right over your head!


8 Meerkats snuffling

A meerkat poses by a post box at ZSL London Zoo

This mob of meerkats look out for each other, with one standing on duty at all times to keep watch while the others sleep or play. They even helped us announce our partnership with St Pancras by posing with a train!


7 pink flamingos

Two flamingos at ZSL London Zoo

Our flamingos bring a flash of pink to the centre of the zoo, sharing an enclosure with our pelicans. They are elegant and poised, inspiring our ‘pink flamingo yoga studio’ in adjacent Land of the Lions.


6 swimming otters

Two otters at ZSL London Zoo

Our yipping, energetic otter family can he heard squeaking for their dinner right the way down on Regent’s Canal. These playful animals love nothing more than splashing, diving and juggling – yes juggling – with stones.


5 wild dogs

Two mottled, caramel coloured African wild dogs take a contented break on strawstrewn terrain. Their large, black, rounded ears with tufts of creamy hair at the base stay perked up - ever alert.

Our pack of African wild dogs are known for their incredible sense of hearing, aided by their distinctively large, round ears. They love watching people on the Regent’s Canal, which their home overlooks, as well as snuggling up together on the cosy straw in their barn to sleep – in one big pile of snoozing pups!


4 roaring cats

A lioness called Arya lying down on a log

Land of the Lions and Tiger Territory offer unparalleled views of Asian lions and Sumatran tigers, with ponds for dipping, shady areas and – in the lion exhibit – even their very own railway track.


3 tree frogs

White's tree frog

White’s tree frogs are just one of the many species in our fantastic Reptile House – from midwife toads to poison dart frogs and Komodo dragons, it’s a journey into another world.


2 tall giraffes

Portrait of two giraffes LZ 1.jpg

Our giraffes Maggie and Molly are so tall they can be seen from outside of the Zoo. They’re particularly popular with members of the emergency services, who often take their breaks parked on the road outside their home, so they can enjoy a bit of nature in between their important jobs. 
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