Tiny Giants - now open!

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Tiny Giants: From Minibeasts to Coral Reefs, is now open!

Shining a spotlight on the planet’s smallest superheroes: from underwater corals and the aquatic wildlife they support, to industrious leafcutter ants, spiders and beetles – the exhibit celebrates the species we quite literally couldn’t live without.  

Visitors will be given a bugs-eye view of the world, as they find themselves shrunk to the size of an ant, surrounded by a garden of giant leaves and flowers, to enter the Zoo’s newest exhibit. 
 
See through the eyes of a bug - from multi-lensed bees and HD vision jumping spiders to the psychedelic sight of a mantis shrimp - before trying to spot miniature masters of camouflage and meeting the multi-talented aquatic animals who clean our oceans, seas and rivers. 

child enjoys jellyfish
Take a break beneath the watery lights of a seven-metre-long reef aquarium, where visitors can watch schools of reef fish, including clownfish and blue tangs - known to many as Nemo and Dory - swim through a forest of corals rescued from the illegal wildlife trade by London Zoo’s experts. Step away and be mesmerised by the gentle movement of moon jellyfish, floating next door in all their translucent glory. Please note that the corals area is closed to the public from 10.30am-11.15am Monday-Fridays during term time while we hold our Sensory Stories sessions.
 
Visit the Zoo’s Partula Lab, where Critically Endangered tree snails are being reared as part of a vital breeding and reintroduction programme to save the species from extinction. Snails bred at London Zoo are released on the islands of French Polynesia - after invasive predators drove the species to extinction in the 1960s.  
 
Take a trip to In with the Spiders and the UK’s only spider walkthrough - where nothing stands between visitors and a clutter of golden orb spiders in their beautiful webs - plus discover other amazing arachnids and their incredible skills. 

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A jewel wasp at ZSL London Zoo

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FInd out more about some of the inhabitants of Tiny Giants and meet our family of arachnids living in our spider walkthrough, In With The Spiders

Videos

Jewel wasp curious creatures

Learn about the jewel wasp - the insect body-snatcher!

Golden orb-weaver

This week's Curious Creature is the fascinating Golden Orb-Weaving Spider.

A Redback Spider, Latrodectus hasselti, in the Bugs! exhibit at ZSL London Zoo.

Find out how spiders are actually more likely to save your life than do you harm!

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at conservation in action, in our Tiny Giants exhibit

The International Partula Conservation Programme has been co-ordinated by ZSL since 1994 involves a managed breeding programme for 25 species of partula snail in 15 zoos worldwide, together with extensive work in the species natural range areas with local conservationists and government agencies.

London Zoo Partula snails being prepared for transport
London Zoo Partula snails being prepared for transport

Take a glimpse into the working breeding labs with our viewing window, inside our Tiny Giants exhibit. This is a working lab, so you may be lucky enough to see some of our passionate experts at work, doing everything they can to save the species.

Partula snails bred at ZSL London Zoo

Critically Endangered tree snails are being reared as part of a vital breeding and reintroduction programme to save the species from extinction. Snails bred at London Zoo are released on the islands of French Polynesia - after invasive predators drove the species to extinction in the 1960s.

Book to see this amazing work in action at london zoo 

 

 

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So, you want to know more about our creepy crawlie friends. Here goes:

A Redback Spider, Latrodectus hasselti, in the Bugs! exhibit at ZSL London Zoo.

  • An ant 3mm long has been observed dragging prey 6mm long back to its nest. This is equivalent to a human dragging a small car by their teeth over a distance of 8km
  • A particular Asian moth has evolved to feed on the tears of buffalo.
  • Fireflies are beetles that use light to attract a mate.
  • A colony of army ants may reach over 700,000 individuals.
  • When a flea jumps it accelerates at a rate 20x faster than a rocket being launched into space
  • Without bees we would have little in the way of fruit, vegetables or sugar. As pollinators they are vital to the life cycle of many plants
  • The combined weight of all the insects in the world is 12 times greater than the weight of the entire human population.
  • For every human alive, there are 200 million insects.
  • To avoid being eaten, stick insects hold their twig-lie bodies and legs at the correct angle on a branch, they even sway like twigs when a breeze blows.
  • Malaysian giant stick insect eggs are just 4mm wide, but when the baby stick insects hatch they are already 70cm long!

Not enamoured with invertebrates? These are the reasons you absolutely should be...

Firstly, let's set something straight. Tiny Giants are all around us, from the squishiest sponges under the sea to the mosquitoes flying high on the horizon as the sun goes down. As one of these amazing creatures, you will have no spine or bony skeleton, but have evolved over millions of years to cope marvellously well without. From giant squids trawling the ocean floors to bumblebees pollinating crops needed to feed the world, we really couldn't do without them.

At London Zoo's Tiny Giants, meet many of these amazing minibeasts - and take a look at what the world would look like, without these impressive species. Here's some of the thousands of reasons that these animals are some of the most amazing on earth:

Fabulous minibeast messages you need to hear:

  • A particular Asian moth has evolved to feed on the tears of buffalo, and another to feed on the algae grown on a certain sloth's fur.
  • Fireflies are atually beetles that use light to attract a mate.
  • A colony of army ants may reach over 700,000 individuals.
  • When a flea jumps it accelerates at a rate 20x faster than a rocket being launched into space!
  • Without bees we would have little in the way of fruit, vegetables or sugar. As pollinators they are vital to the life cycle of many plants.

Bee and pollen_microbes

  • The combined weight of all the insects in the world is 12 times greater than the weight of the entire human population.
  • For every human alive, there are 200 million insects.
  • To avoid being eaten, stick insects hold their twig-lie bodies and legs at the correct angle on a branch, they even sway like twigs when a breeze blows.
  • Malaysian giant stick insect eggs are just 4mm wide, but when the baby stick insects hatch they are already 70cm long!

 

And arachnids have some amazing anectdotes to share with you too...

Found a money spider on your clothing lately? You could be in for a windfall...

In With The Spiders infographic - Spiders are lucky

  • There are more than 47,000 species of spider worldwide, 670 of which are found in Britain.
  • The largest house spiders in the UK are the Cardinal Spider or the Fen raft spider. They hunt on the surface of water, only using silk as a retreat or to construct a nursery web.

Fen Raft Spider photo by Dr. Helen Smith
The Fen Raft Spider

  • Male huntsman spiders (also known as giant crab spiders) have been found to make a buzzing sound using vibration, to attract females.
  • False widow spiders, are not dangerous. Although the noble false widow originally came to the UK from Madeira and the Canary Island they have been here for more than a century and are considered native.
  • Orb spider webs are up to a metre across.

Orb Spider

  • Silk from Madagascar orb spiders was used to make a golden cloak that was displayed at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2012.
     
  • The Brazilian salmon pink bird-eating spider is one of the largest spiders in the world, growing to have a leg span of up to 28cm. Meet ours in London Zoo's Rainforest Life.
     
  • The spiderlings of the Martinique red tree spider are bright blue.

In With The Spiders infographic - social networking

  • The Peacock parachute spider, also known as the Gooty sapphire, is one of the most beautiful spiders in the world due to its blue colouration. It is also one of the rarest in the wild, living in a single patch of forest in West Bengal, India.
     
  • Regal jumping spiders have an elaborate courtship dance to attract a mate.
  • An ant 3mm long has been observed dragging prey 6mm long back to its nest. This is equivalent to a human dragging a small car by their teeth over a distance of 8km.

Meet the minibeasts today at London Zoo's Tiny Giants!

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In With The Spiders: Europe's first spider walk through

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Visit our spider walkthrough in Tiny Giants