24 July 2014

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Event review: Summer showcase at ZSL London Zoo


Armadillos, owls, llamas, meerkats and penguins: where are we?

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There aren’t any lion costumes, but the odd leopard-print scarf suggests the ‘hint of animal’ dress code had not been ignored. We’re here to check out what ZSL London Zoo has planned for the events crowd this summer.

It’s Penguin Beach up first and the 350 or so event bookers present seem to love the private show – Penguin Beach Live, in case you search for it – while they sip on mandarin-scented fizz. What a welcome.

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The weather’s not great, but a few brave guests have a spin on the merry-go-round before heading toward the restaurant and its new terrace. The venue’s summer menu, prepared by caterers Ampersand, is inspired by American Deep South barbecue. The bourbon pork belly and mini burgers have the most impact, packing the flavour in despite their size.

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With bellies full, we’re whisked up the stairs to the historic Regent’s Building’s revamped Prince Albert Suite – it’s had a lick of paint and looks great. We also check out the zoo’s newest event space, the 600-capacity terrace. Today it’s too wet for alfresco drinks, but it’ll be great under blue skies.

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Around us, groups are carving zebra sculptures from ice (available as a teambuilding exercise), getting their faces painted, sampling ice creams (made by Lick Me I’m Delicious) and posing with props for photos by Fishee Designs.

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Meanwhile, our encounter with two energetic meerkats, an armadillo and an owl keeps things lively and proves the favourite topic for the chatty bookers – this one’s a must for events. It wouldn’t be a trip the zoo without it.

Best bit: getting to know Liam, the meerkat.

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