"I suppose we could take him to the zoo, ... and leave him in the car...."
Petunia Dursley's reluctance to take Harry to the zoo.[src]

There was a zoo in Surrey, where the Dursleys took Dudley on his eleventh birthday on 23 June 1991.[1]


Vernon Dursley and Petunia Dursley took their son Dudley Dursley to this zoo for his eleventh birthday on 23 June 1991, along with his friend Piers Polkiss and, against their will, Harry. While at the zoo, they bought ice cream treats, saw a gorilla that reminded Harry of Dudley, ate at the zoo restaurant, and visited the reptile house. At first, Dudley found the place boring because none of the reptiles were moving around much, but when no one was watching, Harry discovered that he was able to speak to snakes when he realised a boa constrictor understood what he was saying. When Dudley and Piers saw the snake moving around, they rushed to the get to the cage, and Dudley pushed Harry out of the way. In anger, Harry made the glass of its cage vanish, unknowingly using underage magic. This allowed the boa to escape captivity and leave for Brazil.[1]

Behind the scenes

Dudley trapped in the snake tank

  • The film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone identifies this zoo as the London Zoo. This is where the scene was filmed.[2] However, this cannot be considered canon as when Hagrid takes Harry from the Dursleys to get his school supplies in the novel, it is stated that Harry had never been to London before.[3]
  • In the book, Dudley and Piers jump back when the glass vanishes. In the film, Dudley falls into the tank and is trapped when the glass reappears.[1][4]
  • It is possible that this zoo is meant to be Chessington World of Adventures, a zoo and adventure park located in real-world Surrey. Chessington World of Adventures has a reptile house and a family of gorillas, like the zoo featured in J. K. Rowling's book.


Notes and references

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