The Countess of Wessex visited Monkey Valley and joined in Christmas celebrations with local children during a festive trip to London Zoo.
Sophie was given a guided tour of the recently restored Snowdon Aviary, visited by the Queen in 1967, which is now home to a troop of 10 Eastern black and white colobus monkeys as part of the new exhibit.
As part of ZSL’s Community Access Scheme, the countess also met children receiving support from the Kaleidoscope Palliative Care and Community Children’s Nursing teams, filling brightly wrapped boxes of sweet potato snacks for the zoo’s ring-tailed lemurs and weaving edible Christmas wreaths from leaves sourced by the horticulture team.
ZSL director general Matthew Gould said: “We were honoured to welcome Her Royal Highness to ZSL London Zoo… to join in some of our festive, educational activities, learn more about ZSL’s vital science and conservation work, and visit Monkey Valley – which itself has an important link to the royal family.”
“The restored Snowdon Aviary structure, which remains a remarkable feat of architecture, was first designed in the 1960s by the late Earl of Snowdon, Anthony Armstrong-Jones – then husband to Princess Margaret.
“Queen Elizabeth II visited the exhibit in 1967, accompanied by her sister.”
The Queen was ZSL’s patron from her coronation in 1953 until her death in September this year.
Sophie was also shown London’s only living rainforest, which houses tree anteaters, two-toed sloths and red titi monkeys, where she was joined by children from St Mary’s Bryanston Square Church of England Primary School.
The school visit was part of ZSL’s Education Access Scheme which enables schools in Camden and Westminster to make regular trips to the conservation charity zoo.
Mr Gould added: “We were particularly pleased Her Royal Highness was able to meet some of the thousands of children who are part of ZSL’s Community Access Scheme.
“The scheme lets children who would not otherwise be able to visit the zoo have the chance to do so, and be inspired by our animals and the work we do to protect wildlife around the world.
“The royal family has been a vital part of ZSL’s 200-year history and has helped us to inspire millions to protect wildlife around the world.”