Earliest Zoo structure 

The earliest surviving animal cage to be built at London Zoo, the Ravens’ Cage is preserved as a monument to our history.

Designed by London Zoo’s original architect, Decimus Burton, this ornate ironwork aviary dates back to the earliest days of ZSL. In 1828, the Zoo first opened to members of ZSL and their guests, and the aviary was probably completed around 1829. 

A view of London Zoo by James Hakewill from 1835 and featuring the Raven's Cage and the Llama House. In the background a bear is being fed by visitors. The Raven's Cage has since been relocated.

In an early lithograph of the Zoo by James Hakewill, dating from the 1830s, it is pictured close to the original Llama House (now the Clock Tower). Initially built as summer accommodation for the Zoo’s macaws, the octagonal aviary was also used to house vultures, ravens and possibly owls over the years. 

The Ravens’ Cage has been relocated and renovated over the years. Like other Zoo buildings, it was damaged during the German bombings of London in World War II, and it was rebuilt in 1948. At some point in its history, wire mesh replaced the original bars. In 1971, the Ravens’ Cage was moved to its current location and a brick plinth was added to the base of the structure. It has previously been used as a feeding station for the Zoo’s resident wild birds.

A giant in our history

Jumbo at riding steps, probably March 1882. Jumbo was London Zoo's first African elephant.
Uncovering Jumbo's life

Jumbo the elephant

The remarkable life story of Jumbo the elephant - the animal superstar who is said to have inspired the movie Dumbo.

The Ravens’ Cage now… 

Although the Ravens’ Cage has been extensively rebuilt and restored over the years, it still retains the same general appearance as it did in the Zoo’s early days, and it can still be found not far from the Clock Tower.

Today we no longer consider the Ravens’ Cage suitable for birds, and it is no longer in use. It remains as a Grade II-listed landmark from Zoo history, and a reminder of how zoological design has evolved as our scientific understanding of animal care has grown.

Although you’ll no longer find ravens in the animal collections at London Zoo, we still maintain a connection with these striking and intelligent birds. Our veterinary team carries out regular health checks on the famous royal ravens kept at the Tower of London. Legend has it that if the ravens ever left the tower, the kingdom would fall!

Journey through our history

  • Air raid shelter at London Zoo
    How animals were looked after during the war

    The Zoo during World War Two

    War broke out on 3rd September 1939. At 11.00am London Zoo was closed by order of the Government, as were all other public places where people gathered in large numbers.

  • Winnie the bear at London Zoo which inspired Winnie the Pooh
    The real story behind Winnie the Pooh

    Winnie the Pooh origins

    Winnie was one of our most famous residents, a black bear taken in when her mother was killed by a hunter and she has an enduring influence on pop culture today.

  • Black and white photo of giraffes at Decimus Burton's Giraffe House
    England's first giraffes

    Giraffe house history

    When giraffes arrived at London Zoo in 1836, they caused a public sensation. Our giraffes were the first to be seen by the public in England, and made Londoners instantly form a connection with the natural world.

  • Snowdon Aviary construction
    Now reimagined as Monkey Valley

    Snowdon Aviary

    The Snowdon Aviary made history as Britain’s first walk-through aviary, designed to enclose as much open space as possible, stretching up to 24m tall.

  • A portrait of the gorilla 'Meng'. London Zoo, June 1939.
    One of Britain’s first modernist buildings

    Round house

    Designed for gorillas by Berthold Lubetkin, the building was home to our first gorillas Mok and Moina.

  • Guy the silverback gorilla at London Zoo
    Guy the gorilla, Jumbo the elephant and quaggas

    Famous Animals of London Zoo

    The iconic animals in our history which brought people closer to nature and inspired generations of conservationists.

  • Outside Tiny Giants building
    Taking inspiration from nature

    Sustainability at Tiny Giants

    Opened by Queen Elizabeth I and Prince Philip, we built our Tiny Giants building to be as sustainable as possible.

  • Historic photo of flamingos at Mappin Terraces at London Zoo
    Built over 100 years ago

    Mappin Terraces and Pavilion

    At the time of their creation in 1913, they represented an innovative step to provide more naturalistic settings for animals at the Zoo. Over the years, the terraces have been home to goats, bears, penguins, ibex and snow leopards

  • Our history