Zoo Lates are back and they kick off tonight. This is your chance to check out some animals after-hours without going anywhere near a kebab shop.
1. There are no kids allowed
Zoo Lates’ over-18s-only policy means you can giggle about the baboons’ bums without setting a bad example for toddlers. It also means you’re free to enjoy a drink or several from the various pop-up bars, wine-tasting areas and street food stalls. Which will no doubt make the baboons even more chucklesome.
2. You get to see cute night-time animals
If you think your cat is the most hilarious creature ever to grace Instagram, you’re going to go nuts over some of these guys. Many of the zoo’s 17,500 inhabitants are more active at night, including the Sumatran tigers and their three cubs, and the two-toed sloths, who have also just had a sprog. The sloth baby was a shock to the keepers, who didn’t even realise its parents had even gone near each other. It’s like Sonia from ‘EastEnders’ all over again.
3. You can take a cruise to beat the queues
The Thames may be widely considered London’s greatest waterway, but Regent’s Canal is a pretty classy route to travel, especially if you prefer spotting ducks to flashy booze cruises. A waterbus runs from Little Venice or Camden and drops you off right inside the zoo so you don’t have to queue along with all the landlubbers. Plus, waterbus tickets save you £5.50 off the entry price.
4. You can wear that gorilla costume
It doesn’t have to be a gorilla costume, particularly if it’s a rather sticky summer evening (in fact, please don’t wear a gorilla costume in that case). You may just like to show off your wild side with a little fancy dress. Now’s your chance to dig out the animal onesie you spent a day’s wages on in 2012, but haven’t worn since that Chris Packham-themed pub crawl. Or if that’s still at the dry cleaners (after a particularly ill-fated night) you can just buy an animal mask from the zoo gift shop.
5. There are dancing bears (kind of)
No animals are harmed in the making of ‘The Lates Show’, which features burly burlesque stars The Dream Bears performing a unique interpretative dance routine. The night’s entertainment line-up also includes carousel rides, acoustic music, improv sets in The Comedy Den and a soundless dance-off, which, to clarify, is a competitive silent disco rather than some really energetic miming.
Zoo Lates is at London Zoo, Fridays 6pm-10pm. Jun 6 until Aug 1. £28. Book at tickets here.
Find out what it’s like to be a zookeeper for the day.
By Ashleigh Arnott.