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Locked down London Zoo marks anniversary with release of historic photographs

Sir David Attenborough meeting with an orangutan among the images

26 April, 2020 — By Geoffrey Sawyer

The Queen opening the New Lion Terraces in 1976 [Photo: ZSL]

ZSL London Zoo today (Monday) released photographs from its archive to mark its 192nd anniversary, as the coronavirus lockdown continues to keep visitors away.

The shut doors at the attraction in Regent’s Park has been described as its “toughest challenge” since first opening in 1828. It is the first time the zoo has been closed to the public since the Second World War.

Keeper Charles Dixon holding up a baby hyaena at London Zoo, 1919 [Photo: ZSL]

ZSL Director General, Dominic Jermey CVO OBE, said: “It is somewhat bittersweet that we celebrate this remarkable anniversary with the Zoo closed to the public, for the first time since World War Two, and for the longest duration in our history – but we can certainly take solace in sharing some of our amazing achievements and milestones.

“From world-leaders to world-firsts, ZSL London Zoo is an iconic institution which has achieved so much but has so much more to do. Founded as a place for the study of animals, that ethos still guides us today – everything we do is with the intent of creating a world where wildlife thrives.”

Old Macaw cage, Zoological Gardens, 1831. From a lithograph by James Hakewill

Visitors’ favourite: Guy the Gorilla at ZSL London Zoo [Photo: ZSL]

Sir David Attenborough and Bulu the orangutan, the first born at ZSL London Zoo [Photo: ZSL]

He added: “During the Blitz, the War Cabinet asked us to reopen quickly to raise the spirits of Londoners; today, we raise spirits and awareness across the UK with our stories and videos of zoo life going on behind closed doors.

“We are now asking for critical support to ensure we can overcome these unprecedented challenges. With people needing to reconnect with nature more than ever, wildlife under threat from illegal wildlife trade, over-exploitation, and habitat loss, we’ve got a crucial job to do. Please, help us now by visiting

For more information on ZSL London Zoo, visit

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