Sunday, June 12, 2011

Lates at the London Zoo

Last weekend my sisters and brother-in-law were back in London after spending 5 days in Istanbul. As this was my kid sister's first, but brief visit to London, we did the usual sightseeing tour: classic Sunday roast, National History Museum, Harrod's, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, Soho, Southbank, London Eye, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, St. Paul's Cathedral, Afternoon High Tea, Tate Modern, Spitalfields Market, Brick Lane and more... It was a short stay in London unfortunately, so my kid sister will have come back next time for a proper tour of London. 

With no visitors in town or travel plans, we spent this past weekend catching up with our London-based friends, many whom we haven't seen in weeks, if not months. Taking advantage of a recent Groupon offer, Keenan and I, along with four friends, spent last Friday evening at Zoo Lates at the London Zoo. Every Friday during the summer months of June and July, the London Zoo hosts an adults only event starting from 6:00pm. 
Long gone are the little kiddies and their yummy mummies, doting dads, proud grandparents, and expensive prams. The Zoo transforms into somewhat of a mini-festival with several beer/Pimms gardens, 10 Eat.St food stalls serving up everything from Mexican to paella, pulled pork sandwiches and Ghanaian stew, live music, and even a silent disco. Of course the highlight of the evening  -- the 700 plus species from birds, reptiles, cats, wild dogs, and insects. The London Zoo, located at the top of Regents Park, is not very big so you can meander through the park leisurely...with a beer in tow. 

We started off with a visit to see the new Penguin Beach just opposite of the Oasis Cafe. The penguins are super adorable, especially the macaroni penguins which you may know from the movie Surf's Up. We watched them "jump" and swim around the "beach." Very cute!

Then we walked to see the Big Cats playpen, only to find the tiger still fast asleep, while the male lion was lazily lying around. I was quite to finally see a male lion having missed the opportunity to spot one while on safari in South Africa. Next time in the Serengeti, I hope...

We also saw alpacas, llamas, and camels on our way to "Into Africa" to see zebras, warthogs, and giraffes, which is one of my friend's favourite animals. Having lost track of time as the animal house closes at 9pm (even animals need their beauty rest, right?), we made it to the giraffe house just in time before the zookeepers closed the door by sneaking in through the exit. It was strange to see the giraffes  inside a barn instead of in the wilderness, but I know these animals are well-taken care of by trained zoologists.

We would have loved to stay longer to join the silent disco fun but alas the rain came, and that was our queue to head home. Despite the rain, the Zoo Lates was a fun, low-key night out. Grab some friends, bring a brollie, and order an after-work happy hour at the Zoo!

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