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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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