Sweeping up zebra poo and getting so close to a lion you can smell its breath (and your own fear) sure make for an exotic day out.

Normally you’re behind a fence when checking out big, rare or dangerous animals, but not when you’re being a keeper for a day at London Zoo.

The day-long experience certainly isn’t cheap, but going behind the scenes to areas usually off-limits and getting up close and personal with weird and wonderful critters is one of the most memorable things you’ll ever do.

You feed giraffes, monkeys and penguins by hand, stand within inches of Asiatic lions, chop up food for bushpigs, and have a family of friendly South American raccoons clamber all over you.

A must for animal lovers everywhere. DANIEL LANDON

» Regent’s Park, NW1 4RY Camden Town (020 7722 3333; zsl.org). £260

Verdict: Go and release the animal within