The UK is home to a lot of wildlife but we’ve seen all of that. Most of us want to experience animals that we wouldn’t see in our day to day lives; exotic creatures like elephants, lions, tropical birds and monkeys, amongst others. But fortunately, England is home to a whole host of zoos that are sure to delight and educate every member of the family.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through some of the best zoos in England. No matter where you are in the country, you won’t ever be too far away from a wildlife adventure.
Bristol Zoo is probably one of the most famous zoos in the country and it’s earned its reputation well through a huge number of conservation campaigns as well as offering educational opportunities to those looking to get into the field.
For families looking for a great day out, there’s no better location. There are talks going on every day and throughout the year, the zoo hosts various seasonal events so it’s worth checking the website to see what’s on when you’re planning your visit. What’s more, there are some excellent opportunities for educational visits so if you’re planning a school trip or scout outing then they’ll cater to your needs.
The animals here are so diverse and you’ll get to meet everything from gorillas and lemurs to lions, lizards, bats, sloths and more. When you’re finished exploring, ZooRopia, the high rope course is a major attraction and then you can settle down in one of the five eateries on site.
Lions on our visit to Yorkshire Wildlife Park
Another of the most well-known zoos in England is Chester Zoo. This is so much more than just a zoo and it offers everything from venue hire for weddings and special occasions to kid’s holiday clubs and even a junior conservation camp that runs for five weeks.
Chester Zoo is home to more than 20,000 animals; that’s one of the largest collections in the country and it is spread over a whopping 128 acres so you’ll be able to easily fill a day exploring everything. There are elephants (as seen on our last trip below) bears, cheetahs, anteaters and giraffes as well as komodo dragons, meerkats, orangutans and sloths.
What makes Chester Zoo even more attractive is that it’s not only wildlife that you can encounter here. The zoo is also home to some beautiful botanical gardens so if it’s flora that’s more up your street, you’ll love this part of the experience.
Going to the zoo doesn’t have to mean only looking at animals all day. If you want to combine your animal encounters with a rush of adrenaline then Flamingo Land is the place to be. The resort is home to a large theme park with rides for people of all ages and preferences including a kid’s area and an adrenaline zone.
The zoo at Flamingo Land is perfect for families as there are a lot of learning opportunities that involve meeting a creature up close and listening to a wealth of keeper talks throughout the day. These are all included in the price of entry. However, there are optional extras you can choose from including adopting an animal and being a zookeeper.
The diversity at Flamingo Land is impressive. While the name might suggest otherwise, you’ll find an incredible array of species here. White rhinos (above from last years visit), tigers, lions, wallabies, meerkats, monkeys and so much more. And if you can’t pack it all into one day, there’s even accommodation, holiday homes and camping on site!
One of the best things about the South Lakes Safari Zoo is that it allows you to get really up close and personal with the animals. Here, you will find more than 1000 rare species here including a striking tiger, beautiful wolves and snow leopards. There are also kangaroos, rhinos, giraffes and so many more.
The set up at the Safari zoo is slightly different than a traditional zoo and you’ll notice that, while this is a smaller zoo, the enclosures are huge. If you’ve ever worried about the space that animals have in captivity, this will certainly be appealing to you.
South Lakes Safari Zoo offers experiences and animal feeding so you can get even closer to your favourite creatures. Hand feed a lion, shake hands with a red panda or interact with the resident sloth! It’s a day out you won’t forget in a hurry.
There are two small food outlets here serving hot and cold food as well as a children’s play area. The gift shop is extensive and is packed with everything from zoo themed items to Disney treats and everything in between.
Seeing the Tigers at Blackpool Zoo
The final of what many consider to be the ‘top three most famous zoos in England’ is the ZSL London Zoo. Here you will find almost any type of animal you could think of. There is an amazing reptile house, roaring lions, great gorillas, graceful giraffes and so much more. What’s great is that the zoo is split into different routes so you can always find what you’re looking for and it just makes exploring so much easier.
If you like the idea of staying a little longer then London Zoo is home to some stunning zoo lodges where you can extend your visit and stay with the animals a little longer. But even just a day visit can be filled with magical memories as London Zoo has one of the most extensive experience packages on offer. Everything from gorilla feeding and keeper for a day through to a sensory experience that is not to be missed.
There are always new and exciting events and exhibitions throughout the year so we would strongly recommend heading to the website to see what’s on when you visit. And if you’re feeling a little peckish as you go around the zoo, you’ll be pleased to know that there are five food outlets here serving everything from pizza and street food to ice cream and coffee.
If you’re looking for the ultimate adventure there is nowhere better than Longleat Safari park. Not only will you be able to take part in a traditional safari (though it does make our best safari parks in the uk article) but there’s also the Main Square where you can really get up close and personal with the animals.
Hand feed tropical birds, encounter snakes and other reptiles and even take part in the jungle cruise where you’ll see hippos, sea lions and even a colony of gorillas. But what really captured our hearts was the adorable Aussie addition to the park down at Koala Creek; an experience not to be missed.
On the safari portion of your adventure, you’ll drive through several areas dedicated to different species. Take it easy in the Deer Park before heading to the crazy Monkey Mayhem area and if you dare, enter into the Tiger Territory or Wolf Woods.
Longleat is also a music lover’s paradise as it plays host to a wealth of famous names. Upcoming events include Ball and Boe, Simply Red and the iconic Lionel Richie. There’s also the Longleat house and grounds to discover as well as host of places to eat and shop; this really is the ultimate day out!
Owned by ZSL, Whipsnade is the largest zoo in the country. It’s an excellent choice for young families as there is so much for the little ones to get their teeth into. There’s a wonderful adventure playground as well as an indoor soft play and the chance to hire a micro trike to make it more fun for the kids to get around this huge zoo.
The selection of animals here will please even the most picky wildlife lover. Tigers, lemurs, penguins, elephants, rhinos, bears, butterflies; need we go on? There’s even a mini farm here which allows you to encounter and interact with some of the most well-loved farm animals including donkeys, rabbits, sheep and goats.
Of course, as with most of the zoos on our list, Whipsnade gives you the opportunity to get even closer to the animals with a choice of experiences. You can choose to hand feed your favourite creatures, become a keeper for the day or even take an animal photography class; now that’s something unique! If you want to combine your love of locomotives with your love of animals, there’s even a steam train that runs through the grounds!
For those in the South West, or if you’re just visiting, Inplay golf offers a totally different golfing experience; everything is 100% virtual. While this isn’t mini golf in the traditional sense of the word, it does give those who are serious about the sport the chance to practice their skills without the need to head to the driving range.
There are five golf simulators and what’s great is that you still get to use real balls and clubs so it’s remarkably similar to playing on the course. For families with a golf-loving parent, this is a great way to get your kids interested in the game and is something a little more serious for sports fans.
What’s more, there are PGA tour staff on site that offer lessons either individually or as a group. That’s something a little different for your next outing with your friends!
Pretty much every month of the year sees something new and exciting happening at Colchester Zoo. This is one zoo that you could come back to time and time again and still have a totally different experience every time. Before you visit, it’s well worth having a look at the website to find out what events are currently going on.
Moreover, Colchester has an amazing selection of experiences to choose from. Yes, they require an additional fee but they’re well worth it since they’ll mean you can get super close to the animals including feeding the elephants and giraffes. The zoo also offers team building days which are great for students, co-workers and even families looking to build a stronger bond.
The zoo is home to a wealth of creatures big and small. There are more than 180 species including lions, bears, chimps, elephants, birds and much more. What we really love about Colchester Zoo is that there are several encounters going on throughout the day, every day. These allow you to learn so much more about your favourite animals and have a more organised visit.
Colchester Zoo has plenty of other things to do as well as getting to know international wildlife. You’ll find a selection of outdoor play areas as well as an indoor soft play and if you’re feeling crafty, why not head to one of the workshops including making sand bottles! Feeling hungry? You won’t be short of places to fill up since Colchester Zoo is home to 15…yes 15 places to eat and drink!
Marwell Zoo is set across 140 acres and is home to hundreds of animals. Here, you will find everything from tigers to penguins, leopards to hippos, meerkats to sloths and much more. There is an excellent tropical house where you’ll find frogs, birds and other creatures all roaming freely; if you truly want to interact with nature, this is the place to be.
Marwell is also extremely good when it comes to education. The zoo runs a wealth of programs and classes for schools, post 16s and others where you can attend and learn more about zoo life, animals and the zoo’s conservation projects.
There is something to keep every member of the family happy at Marwell including adventure playgrounds for the little ones, daily talks for those looking to learn more and even some beautiful gardens for when you want to take a breather and relax.
You’ll also find the BRICKOSAURS! Evolution at Marwell Zoo which runs until autumn 2022. The exhibition shows sculptures of dinosaurs made from Lego which are accompanied by some fun facts and information. This is great for those mini prehistoric lovers!
Paignton Zoo really does have it all going on! One of the things that stands out massively is that you can experience the animals without even visiting the physical zoo. This is thanks to online web cams that capture all the action at any time of the day. Sure, it’s not the same as a real life experience but if you’re feeling wild and want to check in, what a wonderful way to do it!
Visiting the zoo is an amazing experience in itself; there’s so much to see and do here. Much like the other zoos on this lift, Paignton offers a series of daily talks and education to its guests as well as a range of experiences to make your trip extra special.
On top of this, there is an outdoor adventure playground and an indoor soft play as well as a nature trail where you can explore the stunning Lemur Woods. How about trying your hand at the wobbly bridge? That’s something fun and unique for the little ones to enjoy. Look down and you’ll get a bird’s eye view of the lemurs; it’s a perfectly Instagrammable moment!
Animals here include gorillas, red pandas, giraffes, crocodiles, rhinos and a whole load more. And when you’re done exploring head to one of the four places to eat including a burger shack, ice cream stall and the Island Restaurant!
If you think that Howletts sounds familiar that’s probably because of the shocking event that happened here back in the 1990s. A zookeeper named Trevor Smith was bitten and killed by one of the tigers here. However, this claim to fame gives an unfair image of the zoo as overall, it’s a safe, fun and family friendly place.
Howletts wildlife park is an animal conservation charity so with every visit, you will be helping to preserve habitats and fund research. It’s one of the smaller zoos on this list but it’s dedication to helping wildlife sets it up there as being one of the best in England.
There are 390 animals here and this includes a herd of African elephants that is purported to be the biggest in the UK. There are various animal talks going on throughout the day and owing to the size of the zoo, you get a much more personal experience.
When you’re done enjoying the animals, there’s an exciting high rope adventure in the form of the Treetop Challenge. What’s more, there are a selection of cafes and restaurants on site to keep those bellies full.
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Zoos in England are not just about looking at animals. These amazing venues are home to conservation projects, places to explore, adventure playgrounds, restaurants and so much more. If you want a fun-packed day out for the whole family, you’ll be spoiled for choice with the number of zoos that England has to offer. They all have something unique and special so why not start your tour of English zoos today?