Miss Pets? See Zoo Animals, Cheaply!
by Joshua Neil
Everybody knows that living in London, however amazing it might sound, has its drawbacks- the noise, the bustle, the high number of psychopaths which studies have shown are drawn to big cities (pleasant dreams tonight) and, of course, the expense. But what many don’t think about is the fact that in most London housing, pets are forbidden– and even if they weren’t, the amount of traffic and confusion can often be dangerous for any pets you keep. While many animals can be found in London zoos, these can be hugely expensive, and a bit of a let-down. For those living in London who miss their animal friends, we’ve compiled a list of cheap and free places where you can still find all things furry or feathered- and unlike going to the zoo, are all very very cheap.
#1 Surrey Docks Farm | Free Entry | Rotherhithe
Right in the heart of the capital, the Surrey Docks Farm is a fantastic place to get your fix of London zoo animals– open seven days a week, 10-5 every day of the year, this real working farm in the heart of London gives city-dwellers a fantastic opportunity to see the workings of a real country farm– featuring bees, goats, sheep, ducks and donkeys, the farm also gives courses on how to keep and raise animals, a fantastic and stress-relieving exercise for those with no access to animals in their daily lives. Completely free, though there is a suggested £3 donation, the Surrey Docks farm is a great place to get the farm experience, without even leaving the city.
#2 Battersea Park Children’s Zoo | £8.75 Entry (Adult Ticket) | Battersea
A location for the families on a budget, Battersea Park Children’s Zoo is one of the more expensive places on this list, but nowhere near the prices of most of London zoos, where tickets can average about £20 per person. Right on the Thames, the place couldn’t be closer to the heart of the city, and is phenomenal for experiencing wildlife from around the world. With hundreds of mammals, birds and reptiles to gawk at, as well as a kids’ zone for when the children are getting a little too much, Battersea Park Zoo is well worth the minimal price you’ll pay to get in- with the amount of things to see and do, it’s almost a guarantee that there’ll never be enough time to see it all. Open all year round, tickets are £8.75 for an adult, and only £6.50 for children under 15- over a third of the price for any of the other big London zoos.
#3 Kensington Roof Gardens | Free Entry | Kensington
This is a little-known one- up on the roof of an old department store in Kensington are three sprawling gardens, each beautifully designed to represent a different look from history, and all free to the public! These are the Kensington Roof Gardens. While it’s best to ring ahead and check that they haven’t been privately hired on the day you want to visit, if you’re stopping nearby you can always head on up and check out the trees, London birds, fish, and four flamingos that call the place their home- try finding those anywhere else in London! There’s also an (expensive) restaurant to dine in while taking in the view, or a private-members club for some night-time partying on the rooftops of London. But for those just looking to see rare London zoo animals, there are few places better than here.
#4 Clissold Park | Free Entry | Hackney
For those looking for larger animals than just birds and cats, Clissold Park in Hackney gives a great account of its wide green space- with enclosures that house deer, goats, chicken and rabbits, as well as a huge butterfly dome that offers free tours at certain times on Tuesday and Thursday, Clissold Park is a fantastic place to take a relaxed stroll and look at the wide variety of wildlife on offer. If this weren’t enough, the nearby Clissold Manor is a listed building dating back to the 1790s, and there’s a café and children’s playground where parents can relax inbetween taking in the animals.
#5 Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium | £5 Entry | Shoreditch
Okay, so though these aren’t strictly ‘zoo animals’- but come on, for those missing their pets in the capital, there’s nothing more stress-relieving and fun than hanging around with the cutest animals of them all. Despite sounding like something your mad aunt might call her house, Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium is a quaint little café located in Shoreditch where you can relax, have a cup of tea, and watch the cute and cuddly felines play, roam, and sleep. Advance booking is needed, since it fills up fast, and there is a £5 fee per person if you want to enter. However, that still gets you two hours to play with the rescue cats there, and for those of you who aren’t allowed to keep pets in their own home, it’s a great cheap place to relax and unwind, even in the pet-unfriendly streets of London. There’s also a dog version in the same area.
Take a Look!
While it’s that simple to find places to see London zoo animals cheaply and conveniently, these are nowhere near the only spots to go to. Many of London’s green areas contain weird and exotic creatures, such as peacocks in Holland Park, pelicans in St. James’, and pelicans and parakeets in Kensington. No matter where you live, with pets or without, London is definitely a more colourful and diversely populated place than it first appears, and just looking around can reward you with all the chance you need to see many different zoo animals.
For more information on each of these places, see their Twitter below:
You may also want to read our 5 budget ideas for a first date.