Best Zoos in the UK
Published on: 04/09/18
There are well over a hundred zoos, aquariums and wildlife gardens in the UK, with some dating back to Victorian times. As you would expect they vary hugely in size – the bigger parks like Chester Zoo and Whipsnade Zoo require a whole day of exploration! But there are also more compact city-centre zoos that you can navigate in a couple of hours. But forget about size for the moment – we’ve found that when looking for zoos, people are more interested in finding out what animals they’ll be able to see. Where are the best Zoos in the UK, and which are dedicated to conserving endangered species? Where can you see larger animals like giraffes and gorillas? Let’s find out!
Several zoos in the UK have gorillas, but to see an award-winning enclosure you need to head to Bristol Zoo. They have spent millions on a brand-new gorilla house with a unique feature – the viewing area has a glass roof that you can actually walk over!
It’s not surprising to find out the largest zoo in the country is also home to the largest heard of Asian elephants. Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire boasts an incredible 600 acres for the animals to roam in, and it’s a good job it’s so roomy as it’s also home to huge rhinos, brown bears and hippos!
Sadly, snow leopards are under threat and are listed as a vulnerable species so are very difficult to see in the wild. Luckily, it’s been successfully bred in captivity in several zoos in the UK. If you want an authentically hilly experience that approximates their natural habitat, head to the Welsh Mountain Zoo (the clues in the name!).
If you want to visit the cuddly bamboo-eating bear, Edinburgh Zoo is the place to go. It’s the only zoo in the UK with giant pandas, and also famous for its daily penguin parade, so definitely worth the trip if you’re a fan of black and white animals!
For the safari experience without the scary price tag, your best bet is Longleat Zoo in Wiltshire. The park is a collection of huge enclosures that first opening way back in 1966, making it the first African safari outside of Africa. The famous ‘Lions of Longleat’ are quite the spectacle, and the park now has two prides (kept in separate territories for obvious reasons!).
Twycross Zoo is the only zoo in the UK where you can see all types of great apes, from orangutans to chimpanzees, gorillas and our closest living relative, the bonobo. Twycross is world-renowned for its specialism in primates and has the largest collection of any zoo outside of Japan.
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