7 Surprising Animals to Spot in London

by ZSL on

Wildlife is all around us in London, from foxes streaking through our streets at night, to sociable sparrows chattering away all morning.

During lockdown we’ve come to love our local wildlife even more, appreciating garden regulars, summer butterflies and growing goslings in our parks. At ZSL we love all of London’s wildlife but we’ve come up with a hit list of some of the more unexpected locals for you to spot out and about.

Pair of parakeets peeking out of a tree

London’s parrot population

These beautiful green parakeets with vibrant red beaks squeak away from treetops in their noisy, gregarious flocks. Found throughout London’s parks, and often back gardens, they’re the UK’s only resident parrots. Originally from Africa and South Asia you’ll spot them nesting in tree holes and munching on fruits, berries and seeds – yum!

 

Pelicans in Regent's Park, London

Pelicans in the park?

It’s true! Just around the corner from Buckingham Palace in St James’s Park you’ll find six great white pelicans – the most recent additions Sun, Moon and Star. Pelicans have been at home in the park since 1664 when they were gifted by a Russian ambassador and the tradition lives on. You’ll also find some rather pink pelicans at ZSL London Zoo!

 

Blue whale swimming in the sea

Big blue

Hope, the blue whale (skeleton), hangs from the ceiling of the magnificent Hintze Hall, welcoming visitors to the Natural History Museum in South Kensington. Blue whales are the largest animals known to have ever existed. Standing beneath Hope’s 25 metres you can appreciate the magnitude of these awesome gentle giants as they cruise across our vast oceans.

 

A magnificent stage beetle

The beetles

London is a hotspot for the mighty stag beetle, whose numbers are struggling across Europe. These beautiful big beetles are most likely to be spotted in South and West London’s parks close to dead wood – where they spend most their lives. Males fly around on balmy summer evenings in search of mates who they display their giant antlers to in order to impress.

 

A seal swimming in the Thames, with its head poking out of the water

Seeing seals

Declared biologically extinct in the 1950s, the Thames is now a hub of life thanks to conservation. Its residents include harbour seals and grey seals whose heads can be spotted bobbing about in the water. A hotspot for sightings is Canary Wharf but they can be seen throughout the river – report your seal spots in our marine mammal sightings map.

 

A hedgehog surrounded by greenery

Rare hogs

They might not sound unusual but London’s hedgehog numbers have declined by a third in the last 20 years. But, there’s good news - you can help! If you have a garden make a hedgehog hole in your fence to help them move about and meet other hogs. You can also let your bushes and grass grow a little more wild to help them hide and make safe hedgehog houses for the winter – come on little hogs!

 

An Asiatic Lion from ZSL London Zoo

Land of the lions

No we’re not talking Trafalgar Square, we mean living, breathing, prowling and roaring lions living right in the heart of Regent’s Park. It’s ZSL London Zoo of course! Our Asiatic lions can be spotted padding around their home in Land of the Lions or, more often, seen snoozing right next to their viewing windows, doing what these big cats do best. 

 

Download our Spotters Guide!

ZSL London Zoo Spotters Guide

What animals can you find out and about in London? Treat yourself to a staycation safari, download our local spotter’s guide - and get appreciating our City’s wildlife, right on your doorstep. Don’t forget to book your Zoo ticket to spot them all!

PDF icon Colour Print Out - ZSL London Zoo Nature Spotters Guide (264.99 KB)

PDF icon Black & White Print Out - ZSL London Zoo Nature Spotters Guide (243.73 KB)

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