LONDON, March 26 /PRNewswire/ --

- ZSL London Zoo Plans to Release Children Into the Wild

THE WORLD'S first Children's Zoo will re-open at Easter after a radical GBP2.3m revamp.

ZSL London Zoo's 71-year old exhibit, the first ever zoo to open specifically for children, is to take on a new lease of life as Animal Adventure, where children can immerse themselves in the sights, sounds, smells and experiences of life in the animal kingdom.

The original Children's Zoo has been transformed by designers working with children during some imaginative brain storming sessions.

A wild world of cartoon characters, rhymes, and play zones designed with the help of young animal lovers will bring tots as young as three face-to-face with red pandas, prairie dogs, porcupines and a host of other wonderful animals.

The Zoological Society of London's (ZSL) Head of Discovery and Learning, Malcolm Whitehead, said: So many children are detached from wildlife - they never see it, they never understand it and they do not learn to respect it.

We want to release children back into the wild, and what better way to do this than asking them to help design their own zoo?

The original children's zoo was opened in 1938 by tiny political heavyweights Robert (Bobby) and Edward Kennedy, then aged just six and eight, and eminent biologist Julian Huxley - the brother of Brave New World author Aldous Huxley.

Children working on Animal Adventure with zoo designers last year came up with child-sized viewing areas and a family of animal characters who will narrate youngsters through the exhibit.

Exhibit developer Phil Holmes said: We love involving our visitors when we design new exhibits, it just so happened this time it involved story telling, role play and even a bit of singing! Understanding how children see the world, learn and have fun has allowed us to create something truly magical and foster the conservationists of the future.

Four different adventure zones will engage pint-sized animal lovers and even die-hard city kids in a world of wildlife discovery, bringing down the bars between visitors and animals to allow them even closer to nature.

Starting at the Tree Zone, mini adventurers can scale climbing frames to meet a family of coatis. Mum Rosie, dad Quito and youngsters Jimmy, Bertie, Basil and Brush will live next door to their cape crested porcupine neighbours Nancy, Polly, Blondie and Lena in their amazing new home.

Getting to the roots of the exhibit, underground tunnels will keep adventurers occupied as they burrow through the Root Zone and pop up in the home of aardvarks Misha and Kiyo. For youngsters who like splashing around and getting their hands dirty, a Splash Zone and Touch Zone will bring them up close and personal with llamas Perry and Beegee and a troop of alpacas.

Animal Adventure opens on Friday, 3rd of April.

Notes to Editors: - Animal Adventure is ZSL London Zoo's flagship exhibit for 2009, providing children with the chance to immerse themselves in the sights, sounds, smells and experiences of life in the animal kingdom. Treetop walkways, underground tunnels and watery worlds let you into a world of animals including secretive aardvarks and curious coatis. Animal Adventure opens at ZSL London Zoo on April 3rd. - Children were invited in to the zoo to participate in a number of focus groups, discussions and brainstorms to help designers come up with concepts for Animal Adventure. - The original Children's Zoo was the first of its kind in the world when it opened in 1938, and replaced a Pet's Corner area. It still included an area showcasing household pets and how to care for them. Zoos around the world quickly followed suit and Children's Zoo areas became a staple of zoological collections. - Julian Huxley was the secretary of ZSL in 1938. - Exhibits already opened at ZSL London Zoo in the last three years include Meet the Monkeys, a walk-through exhibit where visitors share an enclosure with eleven lively and curious squirrel monkeys. - Gorilla Kingdom was opened in Easter 2007 and was partly funded with a legacy left to ZSL London Zoo by a long-serving volunteer as well as donations on the gate. Through the development of this exhibit ZSL has pledged to contribute GBP500,000 to the conservation of gorillas in the wild through our conservation programmes. - The Blackburn Pavilion was opened in February 2008 and was originally built in 1883 to house reptiles before being converted to a birdhouse in 1927. The building has been carefully restored to immerse visitors in the world of tropical birds. It is the only living collection in the K to house hummingbirds, giving British visitors a unique opportunity to see them up close. - Home to an array of endemic plants, shrubbery and animals, Outback has been made to look and feel truly Australian. Get breathtakingly close to over 20 wallabies and four emus - Australia's largest native bird. Opened in August 2008 the exhibit highlights how climate change affects animals in warmer climates. - Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity: our key role is the conservation of animals and their habitats. The Society runs ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, carries out scientific research in the Institute of Zoology and is actively involved in field conservation in other countries worldwide. For further information please visit

Lynsey Ford, Press Officer, Zoological Society of London, ZSL London Zoo, Regents Park, London, NW1 4RY, Tel: +44(0)207449-6288; Press contact: Lynsey Ford, ZSL Press Office, +44(0)20-7449-6288,; Artist impressions are available on request