How you can actually spend a night at the zoo

Gir Lion Lodge is officially open

Think you have to travel as far as South Africa for your nearest safari? Think again.

If the inner child in you (or, let’s admit it, just the regular adult) has ever wondered what it would be like to sleep in the middle of an animal reserve – your prayers have been answered.

Regent’s Park’s London Zoo have opened a set of Gir Lion Lodges, located within their Asiatic lions compound, complete with exclusive after-hours access complete with a dinner party and cocktails, of course.

Inspired by the lion’s native Gir Forest in India (with a “high street” that’s so well decorated by native Indian accessories, that you’ll pretty much feel transported), the lodges (as well as the animal’s habitat) try to mirror what their natural environment looks like in the ZSL’s bid for wildlife conservation in the face of poaching, illegal hunting and endangered species.

Before the lions quite literally keep you up all night with their roaring (it’s part of the fun, honest), you’ll get behind-the-scenes access as you channel your inner zookeeper to feed the pygmy hippos, the warthogs, the aardvarks and the porcupines. Walking around an empty the zoo in a small group allows you to really get close to the animals and enjoy the nocturnal species who are more active at night.

The dinner is a buffet served in the gorgeous Regent’s Park zoo building that’s usually reserved for weddings or lavish parties. And in the morning, you’ll be taken around and fed insider secrets by the team.

Like, did you know that lions often roar into corners to amplify their volume? Smart, eh?

And, you even get a tour of the zoo kitchens where every species has a specific menu for their daily feeds.

After learning about their enrichment schemes to keep the animals busy (like making up bug-filled boxes for the aardvarks and scattering food and smells around for the other animals), you’ll feel like a fully-fledged Indiana Jones.

From £306.60 per lodge. 

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