Members share their favourite Zoo memories

by ZSL on

Boy sits in ZSL Whipsnade Zoo sign

We asked our amazing members to share their favourite memories from the Zoos. Young and old alike, ZSL London and Whipsande Zoos have a special place in our members’ hearts, helping people through the highs and lows of life. Some of our members have been visiting the Zoos for over fifty years! Take a read and see how things have changed.


Boy looks through a gorilla photo

Lucille, member for 2 years

"As a child I used to visit the zoo regularly to see Guy the gorilla.  I now take my Grandson Teddy."

Dawn, member

"I’ve been coming to Whipsnade Zoo since I was very small. I now have my own son and took him to the zoo at 6 weeks old... we saw some great close ups of the animals but he slept through the whole thing!!"

Monica Murray, member for 8 years

"I have so many memories of the zoo with my little girls. My favourite was when Lavinia got wet playing in a huge puddle outside the Giraffe House when she was three. We didn’t have a change of clothes, so she was in her underpants all day!”

Carol, member for 9 years

"We have been members for about 9 years. I am amazed that EVERY time we come we see something different - a talk, feeding time, an animal close up ......"

Sheila, member for 4 years

“As a child we went to Whipsnade Zoo every year. I always loved watching the elephants. Fascinated, we listened to Dixi, who played the mouth organ. In those days, there were elephant rides. I have watched over the years at how the elephant enclosure and space has changed. I loved the daily walks when linked trunk to tail, they made their way through the zoo to the grassy downs. Another memory was watching a rather hungry ten-day old calf. He trumpeted very loudly until he had had his fill.”

Jasper (8 years old), member for 3 years

"My favourite Zoo animal is the same as my favourite animal in the world – the Komodo Dragon. My favourite memory is when the Komodo Dragon went right up to the glass and followed me."

Boy stares at sea lion through glassCharlotte, member for 8 years 

“The zoos have taken us through the highs and lows of life. I have taken my children to the zoo nearly every month since we joined when my eldest was six months old. Birthdays are always celebrated here. When my husband suddenly lost his job, my then two-year-old was obsessed with reindeer and we would sit for hours in the January cold every Sunday seeking quiet solitude watching them. Our favourite animals to visit are the sealions at Whipsnade. Seeing them at the underwater observatory is always a treat and we love watching their playfulness and curiosity.” 

Margaret, member for 5 years

“I have photos of me on a visit to London Zoo as a 12-year-old in 1966. Looking at them today it is shocking to see the heavy bars and small bare cages that the large animals like polar bears and Guy the gorilla had to endure.  Even as a 12 year old I thought the old Lion House was like an animal prison.  Fortunately, this was soon demolished. The Elephant House and Snowdon Aviary were brand new at the time, so things were progressing.  This was also the era of animal rides and the (now ridiculous) Chimps Tea Party.  As a teenage I joined the "XYZ Club" and enjoyed several free visits with friends.  I still have my "Key to the Talking Labels".  This large red plastic key with an elephant model on the end would operate the machines which gave recorded information on the animals you could see.  

I remember family visits to Whipsnade in 60s and 70s.  It was a special treat to take the car in and park near the tigers, lions and bears along the escarpment. I was there when the Umfolozi Railway was newly installed.

In 2014, at the age of 60, I joined ZSL as a senior and have enjoyed many visits to London and Whipsnade Zoo. The half price family and friends tickets have been particularly useful for sharing the experience.  My husband and I stayed overnight in London Zoo at the Tiger Lodges.  Even alone, I often enjoy walks and talks at Whipsnade or catch up with the progress of projects at London Zoo.  With the current restrictions these pleasures are out of reach and I sympathise with all the zoo workers, but I stay positive that everyone's lives will get better.”

Find out more about ZSL membership by clicking here.

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