'High-flying monkeys' set to move into London Zoo's aviary
- Credit: Paul Noble/ZSL
London Zoo's troop of colobus monkeys will move into the revamped Snowden Aviary this summer.
The 80 foot high, Grade II* listed aviary has been transformed into a soaring primate-friendly enclosure which visitors will walk-through as part of the new Monkey Valley attraction.
From August 15 they can cross the bridge over the Regent's Canal to enjoy 360-degree views of the troop of black and white monkeys, who hail from the mountainous forests of central Africa.
Able to leap an astonishing 50ft from tree to tree, the 10 monkeys can swing on 800 metres of rope, leap among 1,347 new plants and trees, bask in multi-level sunny and shaded spots, and enjoy a waterfall flowing into a lagoon.
Other upgrades include a 1300sqft day gym and four behind-the-scenes dens.
Families will be able to picnic in the new Colobus Park which includes a chance to practice their leaps and learn to translate the monkey's language of clicks and grunts.
London Zoo’s chief operating officer, Kathryn England, said: “We’re excited to welcome visitors to Monkey Valley this summer - after seven years of careful planning and restoration, new life has been breathed into the former Snowdon Aviary, a remarkable piece of the nation’s architectural history.
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“Colobus monkeys are nicknamed the ‘high-flying monkeys’, because of their impressive leaps - as they drop from branch to branch, with their arms outstretched, it's believed they use the long hair on their body and tails as makeshift parachutes. We can’t wait to share more about these incredible primates with our visitors.”
Designed by Lord Snowden, Cedric Price and Frank Newby, the aviary opened in 1965 as the first walk-through attraction of its kind in Britain. It had fallen into disuse and was placed on English Heritage's at risk register before a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant and other donations brought it back to life.
The restoration involved 35,000 hours of sensitive construction with abseiling experts replacing more than 1115sqft of aluminium mesh wrap, deep cleaning the four tetrahedras that give it its shape, and replacing 37 cables to create the tension that holds it up.
ZSL hopes the new enclosure will be part of a conservation breeding project for the monkeys, who are threatened by deforestation in the wild. Book London Zoo tickets at www.zsl.org