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London may offer the ultimate metropolitan experience but life in the capital is about more than the merely urban. Visitors seeking to reconnect with nature will find plenty of opportunities at the following sites and attractions.
Red and fallow deer roam freely at Richmond Park, while Clissold Park has goats, rabbits, deer and chickens, plus an aviary with cockatiels, lovebirds and more. Hampstead Heath is big enough to make you feel like you've left the city altogether. Nature reserves such as Camley Street Natural Park in King's Cross and former railway line Parkland Walk offer an enormous diversity of animal and plant life and more exotic plant species can be found at Kew Gardens.
Get hands-on at the London Wetland Centre, which offers activities such as pond-dipping and bat walks, and at the city's urban farms. Mud Chute Farm and Park is one of the biggest in Europe, with farm animals from ducks to llamas. Hackney City Farm is a smaller affair with a fantastic cafe. Both are ideal for children.
The Sea Life London Aquarium, meanwhile, has touch pools where visitors can get up close and personal with crabs, starfish and rays. Another London institution offering an animal experience is the Natural History Museum: Sensational Butterflies, which lets you wander through a tropical butterfly house holding over 50 species of butterflies and moths, runs through September 15.
There are even more species to meet at ZSL London Zoo. Among the nearly 20,000 animals that call the zoo home are many endangered species that are extremely difficult to spot in the wild. Daily shows and talks feature spiders, penguins, predatory birds and more.