Founded in 1826 for ‘the general advancement of zoological science’, in 2026 we’ll celebrate two centuries of working for wildlife. 

To mark our bicentenary, we’re planning an exciting series of events and activities, to connect people to the history of ZSL and reflect on our ground-breaking milestones.

ZSL 200 year Bicentenary logo

We’ll take you with us on our 200 year journey, celebrate all those who have been part of it, and look forward with continued optimism to achieving our goal - a world where all wildlife thrives.

Bringing people closer to wildlife

Testament to our forward-thinking approach to science and conservation, the ZSL of today is very different from the ZSL of 1826, but we’ve stayed true to our founding mission.

Since then, we’ve created shared spaces of wonder and conservation through our two iconic zoos, led the way in conservation science through our Institute of Zoology and expanded to work in more than 50 countries - protecting wildlife, restoring ecosystems and building stronger connections to wildlife across the world.

ZSL Through The Years

Protecting and restoring wildlife

Though much wildlife has been sadly lost over the 200 years since ZSL founded the first scientific zoo, much has been saved, too.

In the 1990s we rescued some of the few remaining Partula snails from French Polynesia, caring for them at our two conservation zoos, alongside other organisations around the world; we now release thousands back each year to restore these precious island ecosystems. 

In 2023, the scimitar-horned oryx, declared Extinct in the Wild in 2000, was successfully downlisted by the IUCN to Endangered, thanks to globally coordinated efforts supported by ZSL work dating back to 1985. 

Bengal tiger numbers have doubled in India in the last 20years, thanks to the collaborative conservation work we’ve supported.

We believe nature can recover and won’t stop working towards that goal.

Partula snail on a leaf
A group of Scimitar-horned oryx are returned to homelands on the edge of Sahara desert

Cultural heritage

ZSL’s cultural connections span the globe. From historic artefacts connected to us in major institutions including the New York Public Library and the Natural History Museum, to being a part of the origin story for both Penguin Books and WWF’s logo, A.A. Milnes’s Winnie-the-Pooh story, Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of the Species’ and even the words ‘zoo’ and ‘aquarium’.

Christopher Robin Milne and Winnie the bear at London Zoo
Christopher Robin Milne and Winnie the bear at London Zoo

Edward Lear drew the parrots at London Zoo. Sylvia Plath wrote poetry inspired by our zookeepers. Sir David Attenborough began his career in front of the camera with ZSL.

Our impact extends beyond the natural world.

ZSL and You

Whether you’ve worked with us, visited us, or read a children’s book inspired by us, we know we’ve been as much a part of your history as you’ve been a part of ours - it’s only right we celebrate our 200th birthday together.

With that in mind, we’ve launched the ZSL History Hive project to mark the two year countdown to our bicentenary. Find out more and get involved. 

Get involved
There will be many more ways to get involved in the celebrations, so sign up to our mailing list and keep an eye on our socials to stay up to date as we countdown to the big year.
How old is ZSL?

Did you know, ZSL has been around since 1826. That makes it older than:-

  • Television
  • Radio
  • Photography
  • Cars
  • Penicillin
  • The Eiffel Tower
  • Buckingham Palace
  • Lightbulbs
  • Indoor plumbing
  • The London Underground
  • The Empire State Building
  • Italy
  • Chocolate bars