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We went to London Zoo after reopening, here's what you need to know

"Following the rules of lockdown, and weeks of social distancing we were a little skeptical about venturing out into an organised venue again. Was it too soon? How would we feel? Would people be keeping their distance? We take you behind the scenes each step of the way with us and answer all the questions you would have..."

Purchasing tickets

We bought tickets on the Saturday night for the following Wednesday AM without an issue. I saw lots of messages saying the website had experienced problems and crashed but we didn't have any issues. For 2 adults and Maeve (2 yo) it was £47.

You can either choose to go in the morning (AM) or afternoon (PM). Morning means you can enter between 10am - 2pm and the afternoon ticket allows entry after 2pm.


We decided to drive in because it was still so early in the ease of lockdown and we personally weren't ready for public transport.

Congestion Charge

As long as you are careful you can get away with not paying the congestion charge as the zoo and it's immediate area aren't in the congestion zone. The map below shows the zone where the £15 charge is - you want to avoid the red congestion charge area. For more information on the congestion zone click here. 

London Zoo Congestion Zone


We knew there was plenty of street parking so decided to try our luck on the morning and drive in into town from North London (around 45 min drive). We arrived about 9:45am (15 minutes before opening) and there was ample parking available. I was surprised that there was no mobile app that you could use to pay for parking but there were plenty of machines and you can park for up to 4 hours with coins or card.

Parking costs £2.40 per hour Monday to Saturday and £1.40 per hour on Sundays from 9am to 6.30pm each day. There is a 4 hour max stay Monday-Saturday but no maximum stay on Sundays. For more info see the ZSL website by clicking here.


The Queue to get in

This was the part I dreaded the most... the idea that the day could start out with queues the same size as when the high street stores reopened. Wrapped around the outer circle of Regent’s Park, screaming kids and stressed parents. However to my surprise when we took our place in the line at about 9:55am there was only about 20 people ahead of us. When the gates opened at 10am it took 10 minutes for us to get through the queue, bags searched and tickets scanned. Extremely efficient and also felt safe and at distance from everyone. 

We put a video together which you can see on our Instagram story highlights

One Way System & Crowds Inside

From the moment we walked in everything was laid out and explained by staff very clearly. There was no need for maps because you simply followed 3 coloured routes around the zoo in a one way system (see below for more detail).

At the attractions they had painted markings indicating where you should stand to comply with social distancing rules, and I appreciated how simple they made it for everyone to follow. Of course you do get some people who aren’t following the rules to the tee, but most people were conscious of their distance and respected everyone around them.

As a result of pre-ticketed sales and the one way system, there was a good flow of traffic throughout the zoo. It never felt like it was too crowded or overwhelming.

The main attractions like the tiger and lions were very quiet as you walked through their enclosures. The busiest part of the day was at the end when we came to the  penguins. We waited our turn to step up to the glass and spent a while watching them all swim with lots of "WOW" coming from Maeve. There was plenty of seating so that you can enjoy watching away from the flow of people coming in. 



There was hand sanitizer available throughout the day at stations, and plenty of signage reminding everyone about keeping a 2m distance.

We had brought plenty of our own PPE as well as dettol wipes but if we had forgotten ours I felt I could have relied on what was available.

London Zoo Reopening Review. PPE

What was open

We had been prepared that not every attraction would be open, particularly the indoor enclosures that would all remain closed (as of 4th July guidelines indicate that indoor enclosures can open again). All the animals that you are able to see are visible on their map (click here to download from their website).

London Zoo Route Map with One Way System June 2020

Pink route is for visitors wanting to see as much as possible (which is what we took). You need to do this route immediately after you enter the zoo as you can't come back to it.

  • This route includes: giraffes, zebras, African hunting dogs, warthogs, okapi, pygmy hippos, lemurs, otters, and meerkats. You will then be able to take one or both of the other two routes too – see below for details.

Blue is the shortest route and can be done straight away or after pink route.

  • This route includes western lowland gorillas, tiger, white colobus monkeys, white-naped mangabeys, camels, various birds and red river hogs.

Orange starts at the end of the Blue Route.

    • This route includes: lions, penguins, llamas, langur monkeys, flamingos, donkeys, goats, porcupines, coatis, mongoose, vultures, pelicans, and macaws.

    London Zoo Reopening Review. PPE. Me and Maeve Grace

    The main ones that Maeve enjoyed were the hippo, zebras, giraffes, monkeys, meerkats, tiger, flamingos and penguins. While she kept asking about snakes and spiders and I know she would have loved the attractions that were closed it was still a welcome adventure from our London apartment.



    We brought our own lunch because I was worried about how long queues would be and what there was available. However the queues were short and quick and quite a few people were buying their lunches. Around half way through our day we found a nice area near the Peckish Parrot cafe to sit down. The tables were a safe distance apart, and although you couldn’t use the equipment there was some space for Maeve to run around.

    London Zoo Reopening Review. PPE

    Our Verdict

    Maeve loved it and so did we. It was so nice to do something together and watch Maeve take it all in. Although not everything was open and quite a few enclosures were empty, it has been the best day we've had in a long time!!!

    For many weeks during lockdown I've felt the guilt of not doing enough with Maeve and teaching her new things. This day was needed by all of us and we continue to hear about it every day from Maeve. Each time that she sees any of the animals from the zoo on tv she says "Maeve saw it!!" and she takes her little plush toys with her everywhere. 

    We put a video together which you can see on our Instagram story highlights


    Love Maeve & Kat x


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