London Zoo celebrates 70 years of Queen's patronage with 'Zoobilee'
- Credit: ZSL
There was fresh lobster, ox tongue sandwiches and Beaujolais Grand Cru 1947 on the menu at a special London Zoo reception to mark the Queen's Coronation in 1953.
With an orchestra playing in the penguin pavilion and a buffet on the lawn, the occasion heralded 125 years since the opening of Regent's Park Gardens, and the moment Her Royal Highness became patron of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL)
Ever since King George IV granted ZSL its first Royal Charter in 1829, each reigning monarch has been a Royal Patron of the Zoo.
During her 70 year reign, Her Majesty has visited the Zoo often to open pavilions, exhibitions on bugs and a centre for elephant care, and to unveil not one, but two, lion enclosures. Her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, was president of ZSL's council from 1960-1977.
But long before she inherited the throne, the young Princess Elizabeth enjoyed the wonder of getting up close to animals.
A photograph from 1939 sees the 13-year-old with the penguins in Berthold Lubetkin's pool.
In the run-up to The Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations, London Zoo is inviting visitors to a week-long wildlife-themed celebration.
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The Zoobilee runs from May 28-June 5 and pays tribute to Queen Elizabeth II with a new outdoor picture gallery charting the royal connection to the ZSL.
There will be regal-themed activities in the gardens including children’s storytime sessions, face-painting, lawn games and a series of four-legged visitors including alpacas Alpacaccino, Cuenca and Cookie, and the Zoo’s herd of friendly pygmy goats.
Bunting, deckchairs, and picnics and cream teas from the Terrace Restaurant lend the zoo a jubilee feel, alongside pop up Q&As with the team of expert keepers who can share such royal facts as which animals have natural "crowns" and why.
ZSL chief operating officer Kathryn England said: “The Zoobilee Festival is a chance for us to pay tribute to our longest-serving patron while celebrating our royal history – and for our visitors to enjoy a great day out while learning about the kings and queens of the animal kingdom.
"We’ve been grateful for Her Majesty’s support throughout her reign; she has visited and opened new exhibits, met our zookeepers and veterinarians, and toured new exhibits – learning what goes on behind the scenes to care for the animals, alongside ZSL’s global conservation work.”
For a right royal family day out this May half-term, book tickets to the Zoobilee Festival at www.zsl.org/zsl-london-zoo