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The ZSL London Zoo has occupied the northeastern corner of Regent's Park since 1828. One of the most famous zoos in the world, it contains over 720 different species of animals, and the aviary is a firm favorite. B.U.G.S. (Biodiversity Underpinning Global Survival) illustrates the bio-diversity in ecosystems as well as species. Locusts, field crickets and sea horses are among the many species displayed. This fun education exhibit is aimed at all age groups. Hours of operation vary according to season.
Founded in 1978, Spitalfields City Farm is run by volunteers and is a lovely city working farm. Home to many animals and birds including rare and exotic ones, it is a wonderful place to spend the day with your family and friends. Some of the famous residents there are Bayleaf the donkey, Bramble the Goat, Tilly the Pony, Holmes and Watson the Pigs, Cider, Apple, and Old Man (who comprise of the Crazy Call Ducks Trio) and Jack Orpington (Black Bantam Orpington) who loves a cuddle. There is also an aviary which includes the likes of zebra finches, a cockatiel and budgerigars. Try your hand at gardening in their garden and learn to grow veggies in your home. You can also buy souvenirs from their shop.
Hackney City Farm is located adjacent to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for children. The emphasis is on giving people the chance to see a real working farm in the city center, so don't expect a mini-petting zoo. Animals on the farm include cows, pigs, rabbits, poultry, and everything else you'd expect to find on a domestic farm. You can't feed the animals, but your tots will love the chance to get close to real live farmyard friends. There are paddocks and gardens for adults to stroll. The farm also runs pottery and upholstery classes in addition to a summer play scheme.
Spanning 2.8 hectares (6.92 hectares), Gillespie Park is a sanctuary of nature, home to an astounding variety of plant and animal life. With lush wooded areas, ponds as well as sprawling open spaces, it is as popular with families for picnics as with nature enthusiasts. The park is home to as many as 94 species of birds, and is one of the most popular birding destinations in the region. The on-site Ecology Centre offers comprehensive information as well as programs to acquaint visitors with the rich ecology of the park.
Mudchute Park & Farm is a piece of neglected land that has been converted into one of the largest urban farms in London. It was inaugurated in 1977 and has grown from then to include an equestrian center, a shop, an education center, a nature trail and, of course, lots of animals. There is plenty of wildlife including birds, butterflies, wild flowers, woodlands and ponds. The 13-hectare (32-acre) land has been carefully tended to by volunteers. It features daily, weekly and other special events.
After sailing the high seas for more than a century, Cutty Sark, the fastest tea-clipper of its time and the last one to be built, now proudly sits in Greenwich. Commissioned by John 'Jock' Willis in 1869, this three-masted British clipper was used to ferry tea, wool and buffalo horns from China and was capable of achieving a speed of over 17 knots due to its brilliant design. After suffering damage from fire in 2007, the ship underwent a GBP 50 million renovation and the museum was re-inaugurated by The Queen in April 2012. The ship has been restored to its former glory and has been lifted to a height of 3 meters (9.84 feet) above ground so that spectators can fully explore the lower hull. Visitors can even venture aboard and walk among the tea chests in the cargo hold. The ship's onsite restaurant, Even Keel Café serves light homemade fare which can be enjoyed sitting directly beneath the massive ship.
East Ham Nature Reserve offers a multitude of opportunities for a family day out, or for a quiet stroll amid scenic environs. The reserve is a haven for local creatures, and various trails lend themselves to insect and wildlife spotting, or you could just take a leisurely walk along the trail that is accessible to prams and pushchairs. A trip here would be a great educational experience or fun day out for children, and the fact that the nature reserve used to be the largest churchyard in East London may add a little mystery to the day!
Since it was first laid out in the 1830s, the Isabella Plantation has come to be home to a plethora of azaleas and rhododendrons, including several exotic varieties that make up the National Collection of Wilson. The wooded plantation is an especially breathtaking sight from late April to early May when the flowers are in bloom. A myriad of colors ranging from cheerful shades of pink to sultry blue bring alive a landscape that is bursting with life. Native trees and shrubbery flourish alongside more exotic varieties, creating a varied habitat that supports numerous species of butterflies, birds and beetles. Organic practices are used in the maintenance of this Victorian plantation, showcasing the bountiful beauty of nature. A visit to the Isabella Plantation promises to be an especially intriguing experience that is sure to please anyone with an interest in botany and entomology. Various self-guided walks, pamphlets and other reference material are made available to help you make the most of your visit and learn about the beautiful plants that call this plantation their home. For more information, call +40 300 061 220.