Historic former Snowdon Aviary will reopen as part of Zoo’s new Monkey Valley attraction in school holidays
ZSL London Zoo will open a landmark new exhibit this summer, as its iconic former Snowdon Aviary becomes a soaring new walk-through home for the Zoo’s troop of black and white colobus monkeys - and the centre-piece of its new Monkey Valley attraction.
From late August, visitors will be invited to cross the Zoo’s historic bridge over Regent’s Canal into Monkey Valley, where they’ll enter a Grade II* listed architectural wonder – newly transformed into the perfect pad for primates.
Transported to the lush, mountainous forests of central Africa, zoogoers will be treated to 360-degree, unobstructed views of the colobus troop, against the backdrop of a 30ft waterfall, flowing into a peaceful lagoon.
The renovation of the world-famous structure has taken inspiration from the elegant movements of its new shaggy-tailed residents, who visitors will be able to walk alongside as they leap an astonishing 50ft from tree to tree.
Soaring 80ft above the Primrose Hill skyline - the height of six London double-decker buses - the new walkthrough exhibit features a range of monkey upgrades, including multi-level sunny and shaded basking spots for the ten troop members to lounge in, more than 800 metres of rope to swing on, and 1,347 new plants and trees to leap amongst.
Stepping out of the former aviary, visitors can continue to explore Monkey Valley, strolling under a series of clear sky-paths connecting the troop’s waterside home to their custom-designed, indoor quarters - where the colobus can choose to continue monkeying around in their 1300sqft day gym, or relax in one of 4 luxurious behind-the-scenes dens.
The exciting new attraction is also home to Colobus Park - a peaceful picnic spot, where parents can relax while little ones practise their own colobus leaps - and an interactive Colobus Corner, where visitors of all ages can learn to translate ‘colobus speak’, deciphering what their unique clicks and grunts really mean.
ZSL London Zoo’s Chief Operating Officer Kathryn England said: “We’re excited to welcome visitors to Monkey Valley this summer - after seven years of careful planning and restoration, new life has been breathed into the former Snowdon Aviary, a remarkable piece of the nation’s architectural history.
“Colobus monkeys are nicknamed the ‘high-flying monkeys’, because of their impressive leaps - as they drop from branch to branch, with their arms outstretched, it's believed they use the long hair on their body and tails as makeshift parachutes. It’s truly a sight to behold, and we can’t wait to share this and more about these incredible primates with our visitors.”
Restoring the historic structure to its former glory involved 35,000 hours of sensitive construction: abseiling experts carefully replaced over 1115sqft of aluminium mesh wrap, before deep cleaning the 4 towering tetrahedras that create its distinctive shape and replacing 37 cables to provide the tension that famously holds the structure in place.
The historic renovation - which was made possible thanks to support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, as well as the generosity of dedicated ZSL supporters - will allow generations of future visitors and schoolchildren to get even closer to the amazing animals at ZSL London Zoo.
The restored landmark and its animal care facilities will also form a new conservation breeding centre for the stunning species, which is threatened by deforestation in the wild and part of a collaborative European-wide breeding programme focused on its preservation.
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