Snowdon Aviary

Snowdon Aviary, ZSL London Zoo

Snowdon Aviary has been a landmark on the London skyline since it was built in 1962. Designed by and named after Lord Snowdon, it was the first walk-through aviary in existence - pushing the architectural boundaries of its time. 

Snowdon Aviary

The aviary looks almost weightless - like a bird. Its frame was pioneering in that it made use of aluminium, and in that it was an example of a kind of engineering that uses tension to support its structure.

A giant net 'skin' is wrapped around a skeleton of poles - paired diagonal 'sheer legs' at either end, each lined to a three-sided pyramid or 'tetrahedron' - which is held in position only by cables.

Find out more about the famous architecture at ZSL London Zoo

Sacred ibis in the Snowdon Aviary at ZSL London Zoo

Snowdon Aviary is home to some of the most majestic birds in the world, including white ibis and peacocks.


Cattle egret

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EDGE Birds

Half of the 100 highest ranked EDGE (Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered) bird species are receiving little or no conservation attention.

Visit the EDGE Birds Top 100 website to find out how you can help

The Snowdon Aviary at ZSL London Zoo is a landmark of historic, cultural and architectural significance. Conceived by Lord Snowdon and realised by Cedric Price and the engineer Frank Newby, the Aviary was built between 1962 and 1964 and was Grade II* listed in 1998.

The Zoological Society of London has been granted development funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to work on a proposal to refurbish and re-purpose the Aviary; we plan to carry out essential repairs to its iconic structure, enhance its use as a modern exhibit and maximise opportunities for public enjoyment and learning.  

What we will do

Snowdon Aviary

We will repair the aviary and transform it into a walkthrough primate exhibit, making use of the height and space of the aviary with remarkable effect.  The space and complexity of the exhibit will provide a wonderful environment to support a large troop of Black and White colobus monkeys, and other species such as parrots and forest antelope, which will create an incredibly exciting experience for visitors.

We will use the refurbishment as the opportunity to create a range of new activities, co-designed with target new visitor groups to ensure many more people can enjoy, learn and care about the natural heritage of our planet.  This will be the catalyst to put ZSL London Zoo at the heart of the community by offering many more free and accessible activities for everyone to enjoy.  

We aim to start the refurbishment work in January 2018 and open in the summer of 2019.

  • Education: we will greatly expand our education offer,  introduce many more online materials, and offer Skype sessions with our Discovery & Learning team, conservation and scientific staff and keepers.  
  • Volunteering: we will offer an extensive new volunteers programme, aiming to attract a diverse range of people:
  • Apprenticeships: as part of this project, we will start an apprenticeship programme for local young people.
  • Work Experience: we will work with City & Islington College to offer work experience opportunities, using the Aviary as a locus for learning new employment skills.  
  • Encourage more disadvantaged groups to visit ZSL London Zoo, people for who cost may be a barrier: we will employ an Outreach & Partnerships Officer to research into the demographic groups which are under-represented in our visitor numbers, then work with target groups to co-produce a range of activities to engage them with all that ZSL has to offer.
  • Interpretation and digital platform:  we will greatly expand our digital offer so that people throughout the UK  who are unable to visit the zoo will be able to access our all our online resources to learn about our natural and architectural heritage.

The total cost of the project will be £7.8 million, of which we hope HLF will grant £4.9 million. We have had some very generous support to date, and are now seeking £2.3 million match funding to enable ZSL to realise the project and run all our activities for five years. 

If you can help with a donation, sponsorship or grant, or know others who could, please contact a member of our team or alternatively you can make a donation online.

become part of an iconic landmark 

Judi Gasser for grants -

Sandra Crewe for sponsorship -

Lee Ann Norris for individual donations -