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10 Best Zoos in the UK

14 November 2022

There are so many amazing zoos the length and breadth of the UK, filled with all manner of wonderful animals who are just waiting to meet you. Here is a run down of some of our favourite zoos and their most popular animal attractions.

ZSL London Zoo

You’ll have a neck-tacular time meeting the Giraffes if you visit London Zoo. These magnificent creatures are just one of many brilliant animal attractions awaiting you at the UK’s top zoo destination. Majestic lions, fierce tigers, immense gorillas, zany zebras, fluffy alpacas and more are at London Zoo. This is also one of the most accessible zoos on our list, which contributes to it being number one.  

Chester Zoo

Feel like a Chimp-ion at Chester Zoo, meeting mankind’s closest relative, the Chimpanzee. These highly intelligent, fascinating creatures share 98% of their genetics with humanity and are one of Chester Zoo’s most cherished attractions. There are also over 20,000 animals including Aardvarks, Cheetahs, Giraffes, Jaguars, Lions and Rhinos spread over a massive 128 acres. This park receives over 2 million visitors every year and is heavily involved in the conservation of endangered species.

RZSS Edinburgh Zoo

Be prepared for total Panda-monium if you visit Edinburgh Zoo, home to Tian Tian and Yang Guang who are the only Giant Pandas in the whole of the UK. This zoo is also famous for the penguin parade which sees the friendly and inquisitive Gentoo, King and Rockhopper penguins have a daily waddle through the zoo. Fun fact: Nils Olav, a King penguin at Edinburgh Zoo holds a senior military rank and is the Colonel-in-Chief of the Norwegian King’s Guard.  

Longleat Safari Park

We’re not Lion when we say that Longleat Safari Park is the pride of the Safari Parks in the UK. It was the first safari park outside of Africa when it first opened and is still a leader in the field, with free-roaming lions, deer, wolves, tigers, cheetahs, monkeys and rhinos. It is an immersive and mesmerising experience to see so many exotic species just wandering around while you drive slowly, taking jaw-dropping photos and making memories for all of the family. It’s something that children and adults alike will always remember.

Howletts Wildlife Park

It’s time to “pack-yderm” your bags and take your herd to Howletts Wildlife Park, where you will meet the UK’s largest group of African elephants. This jumbo pack of elephants is undoubtedly the main attraction but there is also so much to see, including more gorillas, leopards and monkeys than anywhere else in the UK. There are free talks about the animals and it can be fun to watch the keepers feeding them. Howletts also has a fantastic breeding programme so there are often adorable baby animals to see, as they are taking their first steps into the world.   

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

When you visit Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire, you’ll have an experience you won't forget in a hurry. The Asian Elephant herd is one of the main attractions and a train called the “Jumbo Express” goes past their enclosure. There are also free-wandering wallabies which can be used as a “spotting” challenge for children and an enormous soft play area for under-10s with different animal-themed areas, as well as a tropical indoor butterfly habitat should the weather not be ideal.

Knowsley Safari Park

The second safari park on our list may not quite be the lion king but it is definitely a contender for the crown, with the longest safari drive in the UK. Knowsley Safari Park will take your family on a meandering tour of wonder through 5 miles of wildlife. Camels, wildebeest, bison, baboons, lions, and rhinos will all be wandering past outside your car and may come for a closer look at you as well! Just be sure to have those phones and cameras ready to get all of the amazing photos that make such trips so much fun, even many years later.  

Flamingo Land

You’ll be feeling in the pink if you take your flock to visit Flamingo Land. This is one of the more unusual entries on our list, as it has a fully-fledged amusement park as well as a zoo. For a unique blend of thrill-rides and wonderful animals, it has to be experienced to be believed. There are zebras, giraffes, rhinos, monkeys, tigers, hippos and penguins, as well as the flamingos which give the park it’s name. Fun fact: A group of flamingos is called a “flamboyance”.

Manor Wildlife Park

Manor Wildlife Park is the only walking safari park in Wales and it is full of fascinating animals including tigers, wallabies and red pandas. Where this park really comes into its own is with the opportunities for close contact with some of the tamer animals like giant fluffy rabbits which enjoy being petted and pygmy goats who adore chin scratches. The interactivity and the proximity to the friendly animals makes this an amazing experience for children and parents alike. It really does take some bleating.

Wildwood, Kent and Devon

Learn about native British wildlife - both past and present - at the two Wildwood sites. Kids will love watching bears, bison, elk, wolves, lynxes, otters, red squirrels, birds of prey and more. The ultimate aim of the project is to reintroduce some of the species which used to roam our woodlands - so far beavers and bison. Both sites have extensive play areas for children of different ages to burn off some energy.

Looking for an underwater adventure? Check out our list of the top 5 aquariums in the UK.

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