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Battersea Park Children’s Zoo

Young kids get bored easily with things their parents find fascinating – and vice versa. For instance this Christmas two of the youngsters in our family decided the most interesting thing in the place was the bouncy sofa. Bounce, bounce, bounce. They didn’t even want to open their presents!

Meerkats. Cute or what?

Meerkats. Cute or what?

Which can make finding the right sights to see in London difficult if you’re in a family group. However, Battersea Park Children’s Zoo might be one way to save the day.

As well as lemurs, coatis, and the endlessly fascinating meerkats, there are capuchin and squirrel monkeys. There’s also a whole host of farm animals, including donkeys (a personal favourite of mine), and a chance for children to pet rabbits and other small creatures.

There are also talks throughout the day, in which keepers explain where the animals come from and how they behave (for instance, there is always one meerkat keeping a lookout for the rest). And there’s play equipment for when the kids get bored with the animals.There is a cafe, but unusually for a tourist attraction, you’re encouraged to bring a picnic if you’d rather.

Now I have to say, some of the kids I know would hate this place.  No snakes, no creepy crawlies, no scorpions or praying mantises or tarantulas, nothing gross, scary, or likely to make their mothers squeal. For which, they’d need to head to London Zoo where they will find ridiculous numbers of reptiles and invertebrates.

And there are no big animals. So if you have children who want to see lions, tigers, elephants and giraffes, you’ll want London Zoo in Regent’s Park, instead. (Or for a real gross-out, some of the bug-related rooms in the Natural History Museum.)

But for the younger children, this zoo is actually quite a cute place. It doesn’t seem to get huge crowds, and the ambience is relaxed; the last day I visited Battersea, most of the children visiting were aged from two to about six. You wouldn’t necessarily want to take children that young to London Zoo, I think – it’s much, much larger and more crowded, and there’s a lot of walking to do.

Where: Battersea Park [map] -  1 km walk or a 137 bus from Sloane Square tube station (circle and district lines)

Photo by Tristram Biggs on flickr

How much: £6.50 adult, £4.95 child, or family ticket £20.50 (one adult + 3 children or 2 adults + 2 children)

When: winter 10-430, summer 10-530

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