For a night you’ll never forget, enjoy a sleepover with the lions at ZSL London Zoo’s new Gir Lion Lodge
Words: Vicky Mayer
London Zoo has always been a magical place, much loved by Londoners and visitors from overseas alike. Now fans of the Zoo are in for a very special treat with the introduction of a very special sleepover at the Gir London Lodge.
Here couples and families (there are different nights for different folks) are given the chance to spend an amazing night at the Zoo, sleeping next door to the majestic Asiatic lions in the cute, newly built colourful cabins. Each cabin is big enough for two adults or two adults and two children with the children sharing a pull-out bed.
Your overnight stay starts at 5pm (just as the Zoo is winding down) when you and your fellow guests are treated to a welcome drink at the Terrace Restaurant before heading off to the Gir Lion Lodge in the newly built Land of the Lions before the experience begins.
There are only 500 Asiatic Lions in the world so to see four of them – Bhanu, the male, and sisters Rubi, Heidi and Indi – is an amazing treat. Once we’d settled in to our comfy and surprisingly spacious lodge we were treated to an exclusive after hours tour of the Zoo starting with a good look at our fellow sleeping companions for the night – the lions!
Unlike the usual scrum you get on a busy day at the Zoo, the keepers are on hand to answer any questions you may have about the animals which is an amazing treat – and one which the kids on the tour took full advantage of!
Many animals – like the owls, anteaters and porcupines surface at night so you’ll get to see a lot of wildlife on your Zoo walk-about and even get to feed one or two of them if you’re lucky. You really feel as if you are part of a secret society, with new thrills around every corner.
Having fed the animals, it was time for the humans to eat too and we headed back off to the Terrace Restaurant. Dinner is a lovely two course buffet style arrangement with plenty of choices for even the most fussy of eaters. The atmosphere is very friendly and as we got to know our fellow guests, you could hear a lot of noise, sniffing and chirping, from the animals as those who are nocturnal woke up for the night. It’s enchanting and whatever age you are, you can’t help love the idea that you’re locked in overnight at the Zoo.
After dinner, we carried on walking around the zoo, only this time by torchlight to see what other animals were awake – our favourites were the unbelievably cute pygmy hippos Thug and Nicky.
Safe back in the Lodge with the sound of the animals all around us, it was easy to drift straight off to sleep dreaming of The Jungle Book. We may have been sleeping in NW1 but in our heads were in the wilds of India, sleeping alongside our new Lion friends.
The chance to stay overnight at the Zoo doesn’t stop there though – in the morning after saying hello to the Lions again and eating a slap-up breakfast, we got to have our own private tour around the Zoo to see the rest of the animals – including the cheeky penguins, giraffes, meerkats and monkeys, before other visitors came for the day.
The whole experience is amazing, one that will stay with you forever and is a unique and memorable way to enjoy London Zoo and its animals at its very best. Whether you’re 7 or 70, you will love the chance to enjoy an adventure that lasts a lifetime.
The Gir Lion Lodge experience runs all year round with prices starting from £378 per couple – including dinner and a welcome drink, with children’s places at £50 per child. Visit zsl.org/girlionlodge for more information and details on how to book a night at the Zoo