How lucky to have the zoo on our doorstep

Friday, 7th January

Tiger on cubcam at London Zoo_photo ZSL London Zoo

New tiger cub at London Zoo [Detail © zsl london zoo cubcam screen grab]

• TO blow the cobwebs of Christmas away I decided to have a walk around London Zoo.

It goes without saying that the animals are the true stars and the announcement of the birth of a new tiger cub (pictured) is truly magical.

What is often forgotten and invisible to most visitors is the zoo’s incredible architecture. The zoo has no fewer than 13 listed buildings and structures.

Berthold Lubetkin’s Grade I-listed penguin pool has been a firm favourite since it was completed in 1934.

Famously the penguins themselves didn’t particularly like it and are much happier in their newer home – penguin beach – on the other side of the zoo.

The Snowdon Aviary is another landmark of historic, cultural, and architectural significance. Conceived by the late Lord Snowdon and realised by Cedric Price it remains one of the most globally innovative architectural structures since its construction between 1962 and 1964.

Now, however, it is a bit of a building site as it is currently being reimagined as a stunning walk-through exhibit.

Decimus Burton’s giraffe house, opened in 1836, is the oldest building at the zoo and still houses the species for which it was designed. Burton also designed Wellington Arch and the Palm House at Kew Gardens.

There is even a Grade II-listed telephone kiosk near the penguin pool. Sir Giles Gilbert Scott designed this telephone box in 1928 and is one of only three remaining examples left in the UK.

Taking care of the animals, engaging in global conservation, and maintaining these listed buildings, are a huge expense for ZSL and donations to the zoo are always welcome!

If you haven’t visited the zoo for a while, I urge you to go and remind yourself how lucky we are to have this gem on our doorstep.

DR GARRY MANCINI, NW1

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