The Heritage Lottery Fund supports hundreds of good causes across the country every year. We tend to associate it with heritage under threat, old buildings and artefact restoration. This is not all the HLF funds. They also award grants to charities who care for historic icons and even to popular tourist attractions. Recently, HLF announced funding for the upgrade of a historic London Zoo aviary. The scheme will transform the iconic and unusually shaped Snowdon Aviary, bringing visitors closer to some of the zoo’s most important primates. From birds to primates, London Zoo is revolutionising animal encounters.
London Zoo Aviary’s Importance
It was the UK’s first ever walk through aviary, allowing visitors to get close to birds in a free-flying environment. It’s an important icon within Regent’s Park and Grade II* listed. The current HLF grant worth £4.5m is part of an overall £8m project to convert the London Zoo aviary into a state of the art exhibit but this time for primates rather than birds. Once complete, it will house colobus monkeys in a free-range enclosure that will aid understanding of these human cousins. The zoo previously received a smaller grant to pay for plans and examine the feasability of expansion.
Why the change? Colobus monkey have long tails that allow them to leap huge distances between tree tops. This unique experience will draw new and past visitors back to the zoo and revolutionise exhibits for the 21st century. London Zoo is some 200 years old, having experienced some amazing and important changes. Zoos used to be purely about exhibits but today, they are involved in breeding programmes, conservation, education and raising awareness of the difficulties that species face in the wild.