Tag Archives: heathrow

The City of London’s secret zoo

My piece on the extraordinary Animal Reception Centre (ARC) at Heathrow – where all animals entering the UK have their passports stamped – appeared in last week’s Independent on Sunday.

One of the great things about the ARC is that by a quirk of administration it is run from Guildhall by the City of London Corporation. As Rob Quest, the facility’s manager, told me, ‘The City is responsible for the import of all animals in Greater London. That’s because in 1965 when the LCC broke up, the City still had a veterinary department because of Smithfield Market so they were deemed the best people to run the border control. They built this place after there was a rabies outbreak in Camberley in 1969 (Fritz, a black-and-white terrier, was released from quarantine early and bit two people) and it was decided we needed somewhere secure for animals to be checked.’

The City still runs the centre today, one of a number of non-Square Mile outposts that includes Epping Forest and Hampstead Heath. For more on the City’s more traditional oddities, check out David Long’s new book Hidden City.