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Wild Side: Discover the top 13 best zoos in the UK

Posted 15 September 2021
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Looking for the best zoos in the UK? From crocodiles to elephants and everything in between, it's time to get wild! Gather up your herd and enjoy a family day out at the zoo and check out our list of 15 of the best zoos in the UK. 

From endangered and rare creatures to your all-time furry favourites, these UK zoos have everything you can wish for and more on an animal day out. So, let’s trot along and find a great zoo near you that you can’t say “No” to!

  1.  Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo, Kilgetty, Pembrokeshire
    Home to over 90 different species, there’s a real animal adventure at Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo. With the chance to see lions, rhinos, penguins and loads more, the zoo is also home to the only giraffes in Wales - with a special Giraffe Heights Walkway to ensure you can get nice and close to the action!

  2. Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens, Burford, Oxfordshire
    From majestic Asiatic Lions to cheeky Red Pandas, Cotswold Wildlife Park is home to over 260 wonderful animal species. Prepare for a whole day packed with exotic wildlife adventures, including eye-to-eye encounters with the curious giraffes at the Giraffe Walkway and feeding times with the perky penguins at the Walled Garden

  3. ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Dunstable, Bedfordshire
    With nearly 4,000 unique animals and 600 acres of stunning lands, ZSL Whispande is the proud holder of the biggest zoo in the UK. From cheetahs to zebras to butterflies and an aquarium, there’s plenty of great animals to meet at the iconic zoo.

  4. ZSL London Zoo, Greater London
    ZSL London Zoo is the world’s oldest scientific zoo and the first in England, dating way back to 1828. With the UK’s only walkthrough spider enclosure (!) and the impressive Land of the Lions, the roarsome state-of-the-art enclosure. Sadly, there’s only 400 of them left in the wild, so go and show your support for the kings of the jungle!

  5. Yorkshire Wildlife Park, Doncaster, South Yorkshire
    You don’t have to travel all the way to the Arctic to see polar bears - Doncaster will do with the UK’s favourite polar bears calling Yorkshire Wildlife Park home. Meet Nobby, Nissan, Pixel and Victor; four huge fellas who spend their days swimming, snoozing and waiting for their next meal.


  6. Crocodiles of the World, Brize Norton, Oxfordshire
    Prepare to get snap-happy at Crocodiles of the World. When you started looking for a zoo near you, giant lizards probably weren’t what you expected but it would definitely be a unique day out! It’s the only crocodile zoo in the UK with a wide range of modern-day dinosaurs, like saltwater crocs and the delightfully named, Spectacled caiman. There are even daily feeds where you can watch as these prehistoric pals chomp on something meaty.

  7. Chester Zoo, Chester, Cheshire
    Chester Zoo is your first class ticket to tour the world, with 125 acres of weird and wild habitats. Between the painted dogs of Sub-Saharan Africa and those Visayan warty pigs, you might need a little help seeing every one of the 21,000+ residents in one day.

  8. Dudley Zoo and Castle, Dudley, West Midlands
    Aside from Disney’s Robin Hood, it’s not often castles and creatures come together but at Dudley Zoo and Castle, you’ll have the chance to team two days out in one. Introduce yourselves to each of the 1,300+ animals in the place before drawing swords and battling at the 11th-century castle. The animals here are a friendly bunch from Jorong the Bornean orangutan to feeding Australian lorikeets with tiny pots of nectar.

  9. Bristol Zoo Gardens, Bristol, Somerset and Bristol
    Bristol Zoo Gardens is definitely one of the best zoos in the UK thanks to the Twilight World: an indoor exhibit where day is night and midnight creatures roam... Travel through the desert at sunset, enter a nocturnal forest and end up in an underground world where a blind naked mole rat might be the only face you can make out!

  10. Colchester Zoo, Colchester, Essex
    Discover multi-coloured feathers, fluffy tails and shiny scales at Colchester Zoo. Set in 60 acres of parkland, there are over 260 species to discover like the winged wonders of Butterfly Glade or Billy Joe and her gang of ape acquaintances at the Chimpanzee Lookout. Plus, enter Europe’s largest underwater tunnel where 5 female Patagonian sea lions can be found swooping and looping around you.

  11. Banham Zoo, Banham, Norfolk
    At Banham Zoo you can pay a visit to Santos the two-toed sloth down in the ‘Eureka’ subtropical house or fly to dizzy heights with one of the Birds of Prey displays. Join snow leopards, tigers and cheetahs as they prowl through the undergrowth and then leap to the tippy tops of the trees on the Zarafa Heights SkyTrek too.

  12. Belfast Zoo, Belfast, County Antrim
    Just a hop, flap and a pounce away from the city castle, Belfast Zoo is a hub for over 120 different species who are facing increasing danger out in their natural habitats. Meet mighty gorillas, monochrome zebras and enormous Malayan sun bears, plus learn all about the fantastic conservation efforts to protect these incredible animals.

  13. Edinburgh Zoo, Edinburgh, Edinburgh and Lothian
    Meet  Edinburgh Zoo’s infamous pair of pandas, Tian Tian (meaning Sweetie) and Yang Guan (Sunshine). They live in two special enclosures full of climbing frames, treehouses and caves where they can play or snooze the weeks away. As well as black and white bears, there’s a fantastic - and free - Hilltop Safari Ride and the adorable koalas.

  14. Paignton Zoo, Devon
    From cheetahs and crocodiles to rhinos and red pandas, Paignton Zoo has over 2,500 animals waiting for you to meet! Set across 80 acres, you’ll get to roam wild and explore and learn all about the fascinating wild animals and rare breeds, plus if the weather doesn’t hold up there's plenty of indoor fun to explore!

  15. Marwell Zoo, Hampshire
    Marwell Zoo is home to hundreds of exotic and even endangered animals across the gigantic 140-acre wildlife park. Meet ferocious big cats like amur tigers and snow leopards, wander through the Tropical house with free flying birds soaring over your head, and get a spectacular view of the zebras grazing as you make your way across the boardwalk.
  16. Africa Alive!, Suffolk
    Experience the sights, sounds, and animals of Africa at Africa Alive! and meet birds, reptiles, mammals, and more. From the bright pink feathers of the flamingos to the unusual patterns on the giraffes, and can’t forget the impressive manes of the lions too! Plus, don’t miss out on the daily activities and displays across the park too!

  17. Howletts Wild Animal Park, Kent
    Home to over 390 animals, including the largest herd of African Elephants in the UK, Howletts Wild Animal Park is the perfect place to learn more about conservation, and meet all sorts of amazing animals. See the family of gorillas, and meet the fascinating anteaters with their extra long snouts!

  18. Welsh Mountain Zoo, Colwy
    From big cats to primates and reptiles, head over to Welsh Mountain Zoo and meet all your favourite animals! See the cheeky penguins splash around, watch the majestic snow leopards run around, and you can even meet the impressive brown bears, plus there’s plenty of animal shows to watch as you make your way around.

  19. Monkey World - Ape Rescue Centre, Dorset
    Gather up your tribe and head over to Monkey World - Ape Rescue Centre, where there’s over 250 rescued and endangered primates waiting to meet you. From orangutans to gibbons, to lemurs and chimpanzees, it’s the perfect place for your cheeky monkeys to go wild!



  20. Exmoor Zoo, Devon
    Are you ready to meet the legendary Exmoor Beast? Giant black cats have been allegedly spotted roaming around the hills of Exmoor and Somerset, and at Exmoor Zoo, you can meet the only black leopards in the UK! Along with the impressive black cats, there’s reptiles, birds, and plenty of other big cats and mammals too.


If this walk on the wild side has got you in the mood for visiting a few more of the best zoos in the UK, check out our round-up of the best safari parks in the UK, or check out the best keeper experiences in the UK?
Give the underwater creatures some love too - here are the best aquariums in the UK! We’ll guide you to the craziest and cutest creatures all over the nation.