We went to London this weekend to stay with some friends. Tibbs had her first curry, and her first ‘out of buggy’ train ride (how cool is Blackfriars station now?). From her tiny tourist perspective, the most exciting thing we did was visit Battersea Park Children’s Zoo.
After nearly 15 years in London I’m ashamed to say I didn’t know this place existed. My Battersea Park experiences had been limited to some dim memories of hideous corporate mixed football team matches and one failed attempt to go to the Affordable Art Fair. Beautiful as it is, I’d not spent much time there. But the Children’s Zoo is a total gem, and, for London days out with kids, is a very reasonably-priced option.
The entrance to the Zoo is close to the famous Pagoda on the riverside, where there is also quite limited parking which isn’t cheap, at £4.60 for two hours. Arriving by bus or train would be cheaper. Entry fee is just £8.75 for one adult, free for under twos, £28.00 for two adults and two children over two. The family ticket makes all the difference, so much cheaper than Bristol or London Zoo.
Once inside, there’s so much to see and do. It’s a cross, really, between a zoo, a city farm, and a large-scale adventure playground. Animals to see include several species of capering monkeys, some wonderful meerkats, wallabies and otters. There were also some beautiful birds, which my baby loved, such as Emus, Lovebirds and beautiful Zebra Finches. What insane detail these tiny birds have on their feathers!
Our favourite were the two donkeys in the centre of the zoo. Having just been let out from their stable after the rain, they were playing together, tossing a football in the air and chasing each-other’s tails. Tibbs was laughing her head off. I really liked the fact that the zoo staff had time and made effort to speak to us, telling us about the animals and pointing out things we might not have noticed.
Entertaining as the animals are, Battersea Children’s Zoo really comes into its own for its playgrounds. There is something for all ages and interests and if you were the parent of a toddler or above, you could pretty much stay all day and watch them tire themselves out. There was a massive water and sand station with complex pumps, wheels and troughs to work out. Two mini ride on diggers to operate and throw more sand around with. A big red tractor. There was also a huge decommissioned fire engine to play on, many slides, bouncers and swings. You really could have a proper adventure here.
On a pretty average Spring day with a bit of drizzle, at 3pm, the place was very manageable in terms of visitor numbers, although staff did say Easter Holidays had been crazy busy. I thought it was a classic family day out, suitable for all ages and both sexes and so affordable compared to much of London’s kids’ entertainment. Plus, you have the whole of Battersea Park to explore whilst you’re there.
Thinking of going? The Days Out Guide from National Rail gives you two for one entry if you show your train ticket on arrival. Valid until October 2014 Bonus!