The Featurettes

All posts tagged: London Zoo

Rain does not stop play: Zoo Lates at ZSL London Zoo

Posted by: Pippa Jacks Sun, 19 Jun 2011


Animal masks at Zoo Lates

It’s not that I don’t like children. In fact, we tend to get on very well.

But sometimes, when I’m looking around a museum or art gallery, I can’t help thinking how nice it would be if us grown-ups didn’t have to stand aside and let the grubby-handed little dears have first dibs on all the exhibits.

London Zoo has the perfect solution: it’s running special adults-only events on Friday evenings, where you can be as grown-up or as childish as you like, and don’t have to share the animals with whiney whippersnappers.

There are animal feedings and talks, food and drink stalls, musicians and even a silent disco. Watching fully-grown adults tear around the zoo in tiger and ladybird face-masks clutching beer and wine is hilariously surreal. You aren’t allowed to wear the masks at certain enclosures though because it scares the animals (the masks aren’t that realistic, surely?!). And apparently the zoo has had to draft in extra security guards to pull out grown-ups who get stuck in the children’s viewing bubble in the meerkat enclosure.


Samba Nova at Zoo Lates


I visited last Friday, when the rain was so torrential I went around and earmarked two of every animal to take on-board the Ark with me if it came to it. But it wasn’t raining in the Laurent Perrier tent, fortunately, and the inhabitants of the brand new Penguin Beach did not seem to mind the wet weather at all.

Nor did rain did not stop play for the two bands who were keeping spirits up with their lively performances. Samba Nova, a trio made up of a saxophonist, rhythm guitarist and Brazilian percussionist, were stationed on the lawn not far from the brand new Penguin Beach, playing Latin jazz and samba [pictured above].

Funk at Zoo Lates

The three members of Little Big Funk (pictured left) were braving the elements in a tent on the bridge over Regent’s Canal, belting out jazz funk and soul. I particularly enjoyed their bass-rich, funked-up version of Moloko’s Sing It Back.

The artists have had a mixed reaction from the zoo’s residents. Larry Pryce, manager of both groups, says the wild dogs have been really getting into the music, but that the gorillas have been rather non-plussed. There is no pleasing some primates.

Tickets for Zoo Lates are £19 when you pre-book online. On a rainy night, a VIP ticket (£33) pays dividends: as well as champagne, Bellinis and tasty canapés, you get access to the VIP lounge where hair stylists and make-up artists offer free makeovers, so I was able to do some emergency hair-straightening after the downpour. It was very fortunate that I could: if the animals were scared by a ladybird face mask, they'd have been terrified by my drowned-poodle look.

Zoo Lates is on every Friday in June and July.

Me with Larry Pryce and Manty Atherton at Zoo Lates

Me with Larry Pryce and Manty Atherton at Zoo Lates

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