London Zoo swaps 'Zoo Lates' for family-friendly 'Sunset Safari' evenings

'Sunset Safari' nights should be a tamer alternative to 'Zoo Lates', but animal activists have said the change is not enough

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The Independent Online

London Zoo is replacing its 'Zoo Lates' parties with the more-family friendly 'Sunset Safaris'.

The 'Zoo Lates' events have been a staple on the zoo’s calendar every summer for the past five years. 

But the nights have always divided opinion, and have been widely criticised by animal rights’ protesters. Nearly 75,000 people signing a petition last year in an attempt to see it scrapped.

Others happily paid £28 a ticket to party among the zoo’s animals. Many even bought an 'Ultimate Party Animal' ticket for £38, which came with fast-track entry, a hat or mask, and a drink.

A series of incidents including a man allegedly pouring beer over a tiger and another stripping off and trying to enter the penguin pool earned the events a bad name, according to an investigation done by the Guardian.

Westminster Council, which licenses the zoo, launched an investigation into the events last year but found nothing that warranted shutting the event down.

A Spokeswoman for the zoo told the Independent that 'Zoo Lates' was always going to come under review after five years and that replacing it with the 'Sunset Safari' was “not quite what it had been made out to be” by the media.

Zoo Lates was, the zoo said in a statement, “an incredible success.”

'Sunset Safari' is set to be “a family-friendly after-hours event” where visitors can make their way around safari trails and listen to talks from conservationists, scientists and keepers.

Animal welfare group PETA said accused the zoo of simply re-branding Zoo Lates.

“Whether they call them Zoo Lates or Sunset Safaris, London Zoo has made it perfectly clear that it doesn’t give a monkey’s about the individuals in its ‘care’,” associate director Elisa Allen told the Guardian.

Sunset Safaris run every Friday until 17 July. Unlike Zoo Lates, the after-hours visitors will not be able to go into Gorilla Kingdom due to it being “past the bedtime” of five-month old baby gorilla, Alika.

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