No, pigeons don’t count as cute animals.
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Except there are fewer bears and more alpacas. Here’s where you’ll find the fluffiest, friendliest, and most adorable animals in London.
Aside from their famous, over-stuffed walrus, the Horniman’s free museum has quite the menagerie. Follow their Animal Walk and you’ll see alpacas, goats, guinea pigs, and more, with the chance to get up close. Inside, their excellent little aquarium plays host to shoals of fishes, along with colourful frogs and jellyfish. To top it all off, you can take a stroll through their butterfly house, through a whirlwind of colourful winged friends.
100 London Road, Forest Hill, SE23 3PQ. Nearest station is Forest Hill.
If you didn’t know there were farms in central London, then you’re in for a treat with this roundup. The first stop is Hackney City Farm, where ginger pigs and golden goats rule the roost. The star attraction is Larry the donkey, who can claim to be London’s most famous – he’s the donkey of choice for Westminster Cathedral’s nativity parade, and has made a fair few TV appearances too.
1a Goldsmiths Row, E2 8QA. Nearest stations are Hoxton and Cambridge Heath.
Ok, so cats and dogs aren’t the most exotic animals, but we can all agree they’re cute. You don’t have to be adopting to pay a visit to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, but if one of them tugs on your heartstrings a little too much, you’re very welcome to take one home.
4 Battersea Park Road, SW8 4AA. Nearest station is Battersea Park.
Claiming the title of the UK’s first city farm, Kentish Town boasts over fifty animals, and it’s free to enter. Amongst the top attraction are the farm’s army of ponies (available for rides), and you’ll also find loads of family-friendly activities, including a pottery club and healthy cooking classes.
1 Cressfield Close, NW5 4BN. Nearest station is Gospel Oak.
In the rather lovely neighbourhood of Barnes, you’ll find more than a hundred acres of wetlands that form one of the nation’s best-loved nature reserves. The Wetland Centre is home to birds you won’t see anywhere else in London, as well as a couple of rather playful otters who just love to show off at feeding time.
Nestled in the corner of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, this city farm is home to a trio of alpacas. We’re told that Tom, Ben, and Jerry are rather shy, but they do sport some rather fantastic haircuts. You’ll also find a crew of turkeys, rabbits, horses, and some rather sleepy ferrets here, as well as cute ducklings around Easter time.
165 Tyers St, Lambeth, SE11 5HS. Nearest station is Vauxhall.
An oldie but a goodie. There’s nowhere else on this list you’ll get to see lions or penguins, so make use of this one. Whether you’re wandering through the Land of the Lions, sweating it out in their rainforest, or watching feeding time at Penguin Beach, there’s a huge variety of animals here. The only downside is the price, as adults will pay a minimum of £24 to get in.
Regent’s Park, NW1 4RY. Nearest station is Camden Town.
There are many reasons to visit Spitalfields City Farm, but one stands out above the rest. On the same day that Oxford and Cambridge battle it out on the Thames, a pair of goats representing the two universities will be trotting leisurely around this farm, cheered on by hordes of crowds. Yep, it can only be the Goat Race. Come for the high-stakes drama, stay for the gardens and other, less competitive animals.
Buxton Street, E1 5AR. Nearest stations are Shoreditch High Street and Bethnal Green.
You’ll find them all over the city, and particularly south of the river, but one of the best place to see London’s flock of wild parakeets is Kensington Gardens. Rumour has it that they’ll land on your arm if you offer them food, but you can watch from a safe distance if you’d prefer. Whilst they may look cute, they’re widely regarded as a pest with an amazing ability to survive. Helps explains why you can see them all over town, including hotspots in Kew Gardens, Richmond Park, and Clapham Common.
Kensington Gardens, W2 2UH. Nearest stations are Queensway and Lancaster Gate.
10. St James’ Park
The royal park presents your best chance to see pelicans in the wild in London. They’ve been given to the UK as a gift from the Russian ambassador since 1664, and the current trio of Louis, Vaclav, and Gargi are the latest in a long line of park-dwelling pelicans. Tensions with Russia may be a little fraught right now, but this lot don’t care about politics, and are only too happy to show off their fishing skills for the public.
They’re usually found near to Duck Island Cottage, St James’ Park, SW1A 2BJ. Nearest station is Westminster.
Set on three acres of land, Stepney City Farm is Tower Hamlets’ hidden gem. Gaggles of geese, ducks and chickens can be found here, along with pigs, goats, and sheep. You can feed the animals too, or simply pick up one of their super-cute bunnies for a cuddle. You know you want to.
Stepney Way, E1 3DG. Nearest stations are Stepney Green and Limehouse.
12. Richmond Park
No i-deer where to see animals in London? Richmond Park is a good place to start, given that there’s a herd of 630 deer roaming wild and free. Deer have been grazing in Richmond Park for almost four hundred years, so this is a great place to see them in their natural habitat. Top it off with a visit to the fairytale-esque Hollyhock Cafe or the stunning Petersham Nurseries, and you’ve got yourself a lovely day out.
Richmond Park, TW10 5HR. Nearest stations are Richmond and Southfields.
A stone’s throw from Canary Wharf is not where you expect to find a working farm, but that’s what you’ll get with Mudchute Park and Farm. They host rare breed British animals (including no fewer than five breeds of sheep), as well as more exotic wildlife like llamas and alpacas. If you’re hoping to pet a friendly animal whilst eyeballing views of Canary Wharf, this is where you need to be.
Pier Street, Isle of Dogs, E14 3HP. Nearest station is Mudchute.
The best place in London to see the creatures of the beautiful briny seas, the London Aquarium is a popular spot for good reason. Whilst colourful fish, seahorses, and penguin will up the cuteness, those who prefer a little more danger can look out for sharks, stingrays, and crocodiles. Those who prefer a lot more danger can go snorkelling with the sharks, if the mood takes you.
We’ve featured a few city farms already, but Hounslow is the best in the west. They also have the most diverse range of animals. You’ll find the usual compliment of chickens, ducks, and rabbits, but more unusual residents come in the form of lizards, snakes, and tortoises. Just to send the cuteness factor off the charts, Hounslow Urban Farm also plays home to barn owls, pygmy goats, and micro pigs. Yes, you did read that correctly: micro pigs.
Faggs Road, Feltham, TW14 0LZ. Nearest station is Hatton Cross.
One for the little folks, and it has quite the lineup of heavy-hitters. Meerkats, lemurs, wallabies, and monkeys make their home here, in addition to parrots and reptiles. Battersea Park Zoo also has a fort, a tractor, and a life-sized fire engine, which means it’s perfect for kids and immature adults alike.
Battersea Park, SW11 4NJ. Nearest station is Battersea Park.
The chance to play with cats, as well as have your cake and eat it? Sign us up! Lady Dinah’s is the UK’s first cat café, and for just £10, you’ll get a drink and 90 minutes of feline fun. Whether you’re in it for a cuddle, or just want to watch them chase some yarn, this place is, quite obviously, purrfect.
152-154 Bethnal Green Road, E2 6DG. Nearest station is Shoreditch High Street.
Featured image: @zsllondonzoo