With lockdown beginning to ease, zoos all across the country are starting to reopen.
We've all missed having days out with the kids, and there's nothing quite like being face to face with some of the most majestic members of the animal kingdom. If you've made your way through our virtual zoo sessions and animal-themed crafts, why not get out and see the real thing?
There are over 50 zoos and safari parks in the UK, and each one has its own unique range of animal residents that the whole family will love to meet. We've selected the top UK zoos for family days out, with all the information you need to make it a day to remember. Whether your family loves the experience of getting up close to wild animals at a safari park, or learning lots of fun new facts, this list of the best zoos in the UK has something for everyone!
5. Marwell Zoo
Have you ever seen a snow leopard? How about a white rhino? At Marwell Zoo you might just be able to spot these rare animals as you wander round this park nestled in the Winchester countryside.
Where Is It? Marwell Zoo, Thompson's Ln, Colden Common, Winchester SO21 1JH.
Opening: From 29 June, the zoo will open its doors again! Opening times are from 10am-5pm.
Cost: Tickets must be ordered in advance online, a feature which will soon be available on the website, so keep your eyes peeled!
Parking: You can park for free at the zoo. It is advised you follow social distance advice when you park, and when making your way around the zoo.
COVID Measures: Like all other zoos in the UK, Marwell is taking careful measures to ensure safety for visitors. These include card-only payments, hand sanitising stations, and regular cleaning of all signs, fences, and windows.
Star Attractions: As well as getting the chance to see rare endangered species, there are also meerkats, lemurs, hippos, tigers and giraffes!
Toilets: There are toilets across the park, including accessible toilets and baby changing areas.
Accessibility: The park is wheelchair and buggy friendly, and there is an Accessibility Guide on the website.
Cafe/Restaurants: The indoor cafes are closed, but there are lots of places to grab a snack or drink.
4. ZSL Whipsnade Zoo
With 600 acres of parkland to roam around in, ZSL Whipsnade is the largest zoo in the UK. From farm animals to Asian Elephants, there are all kinds of creatures you might meet on your visit!
Where Is It? ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Dunstable, Bedfordshire, LU6 2LF.
Opening: The zoo is open from 10am-6pm, with last entry at 5pm.
Cost: Tickets must be bought in advance online, for either morning or afternoon slots. Ticket prices range from £24 to £32.50 for adults, and from £15.60 to £21.12 for kids.
Parking: While the zoo is large, it is not a safari park, so you will need to either use the free external parking and walk around, or you can actually drive into the zoo and park for a charge of £25.
COVID Measures: Whipsnade is limiting the number of people who visit per day, and sticking to cashless payments only. Social distancing measures are to be observed, with markings to help guide this. There are protective screens where needed, and handwashing/ sanitising points. Unfortunately, children's play areas are also closed for the time being.
Star Attractions: As well as African lions, elephants and rhinos, there you can also see a whole family of endangered Amur tigers, as part of ZSL's Amur tiger conservation project.
Toilets: There are toilets all around the park, which are marked on the downloadable online map. These include accessible toilets and baby changing facilities.
Accessibility: Whipsnade is considered to be wheelchair friendly, with ramped areas and accessible facilities. Buggies are also welcome, and there is an option to hire prams and wheelchairs.
Cafe/Restaurants: The indoor cafes are closed currently, but there are lots of takeaway options, or you can bring a picnic!
3. Yorkshire Wildlife Park
This unique wildlife park offers a walk-through experience where you can wander the park at your own pace and spend the whole day with all your favourite animals!
Where Is It? Yorkshire Wildlife Park, Warning Tongue Ln, Old Cantley, Doncaster DN4 6TB.
Opening: The park is open from 9am-6pm, with last entry at 3pm.
Cost: Tickets must be bought online in advance, and there are slots throughout the day to choose from. Once you're in the park, you're free to stay until close. Tickets are £17 for adults and £9 for kids, with concession tickets available too. Under 3's are free.
Parking: There is a large free car park, with 120 spaces for Blue Badge holders.
COVID Measures: The park is adhering to a strict social distancing policy, with restrictions on visitor numbers and some walkways becoming single file only. There will also be no paper maps handed out, with electronic versions available to download online. There are hand washing stations around the park, as well as places for hand sanitiser. Talks with rangers aren't currently running, but you can stay up to date with animal information on their app!
Star Attractions: Yorkshire wildlife park is home to lions, giraffes, tigers and even leopards! Also, don't miss the four polar bears at the Project Polar reserve, named Victor, Pixel, Nissan and Nobby.
Toilets: There are toilets, including disabled toilets, in the car park and near the Meerkat enclosure. The latter also has baby changing.
Accessibility: The pathways are accessible for wheelchairs, but in some areas buggies must be left in a buggy park due to free roaming animals.
Cafe/Restaurants: Some takeaway food and drink is available at the usual cafes and restaurants, with some limited seating.
2. ZSL London Zoo
One of the oldest zoos in England, the Zoological Society of London Zoo (or London Zoo), is located right in the heart of London, and is home to over 18,000 animals including tigers, lemurs, and much more.
Where Is It? ZSL London Zoo, Regent's Park, London, NW1 4RY.
Opening: London Zoo is open from 10am until 6pm, but you must book either a morning slot (10am-2pm) or afternoon slot (2pm-6pm).
Cost: Ticket prices vary from £26-£35 per adult, depending on peak times, and £16.90-£22.75 for children. A small voluntary donation is added to the prices, and under 3's go free. There are also concession tickets available.
Parking: There are pay and display parking spaces around Regent's Park, with free spaces for Blue Badge holders. The Zoo's car park is located in the Outer Circle of Regent's Park. It costs £14.50 to park, and is located outside of the congestion zone.
COVID Measures: You'll see marked areas where any queuing might occur, to ensure social distancing rules can be followed. Talks, animal experiences, play areas and indoor enclosures will be closed for the time being, and there are handwashing/ sanitising stations all around the zoo. The zoo will be contactless payment only, and there are one-way routes so you can get around safely.
Star Attractions: From Land of the Lions to Penguin Beach, there are so many sights to experience you won't know where to start! We recommend starting at the Gorilla Kingdom, then working your way round the zoo using one of the one way systems.
Toilets: There are toilets dotted around the zoo, including disabled toilets and baby changing.
Accessibility: Most of the zoo is accessible, but there are a couple of areas, such as the penguin pool, which have limited viewing. Wheelchairs are available to hire for free with a £25 deposit, and mobility scooters are £20 to hire, with a £30 refundable deposit.
Cafe/Restaurants: The onsite restaurant is closed, but there are some takeaway options onsite.
1. Chester Zoo
As UK zoos go, this one seems to have it all. With a focus on animal conservation and protecting endangered species, Chester Zoo is long renowned for being a wondrous experience for kids and adults alike, and is regularly voted as one of the best zoos in the UK.
Where Is It? Chester Zoo, Upton, Cheshire, CH2 1EU.
Opening: The zoo is open from 10am-5pm. All visitors, including members, need to book their tickets online in advance.
Cost: There are two ticket options available. Full day tickets (covering you from 10am-5pm) are between £19.09 and £23.63 each for children and adults. Alternatively, afternoon tickets (from 2pm-5pm) are between £8.63 and £10.90. Under 2's and carers go free.
Parking: Parking is free on site, and the zoo advises that everyone tries to observe social distancing when entering and leaving their cars.
COVID Measures: You'll find 100 hand sanitising points around the zoo, as well as self-scanning ticket entry points for when you arrive. While the nature reserve and most of the exhibits remain open, there are no talks taking place, or indoor exhibits and activities. The zoo also recommends you only visit with members of your household, and avoid using cash payments (Top Tip: Visit the Chester Zoo website for some printable activity sheets to take along, which take into account social distancing measures and closures).
Star Attractions: There are over 35,000 animals at the zoo, including elephants, sloths, gorillas, and species such as the critically endangered Eastern Bongo, which is one of the rarest animals in Africa. And if you're very lucky, you might even be able to catch a glimpse at the Chester Zoo elephants!
Toilets: The toilets are all open, but with limited capacity. Baby changing facilities and disabled toilets are also available.
Accessibility: The zoo is fully accessible, and you can also book a wheelchair, buggy or mobility scooter on the website if you aren't able to bring one.
Cafe/Restaurants: The cafes and restaurants on site are currently closed, however there are some outlets offering takeaway options. There is also a designated picnic area if you fancy bringing along your own lunch!
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