If the zoo is your family’s favourite place to visit on a day out, a special up-close animal experience with a favourite zoo resident is sure to make it even more memorable. At some places, they can even try their hand at being a zoo keeper for a day - how about that?!
So, if you’re up for a zoo keeper experience, or an animal encounter, we’re here to help you choose, all thanks to our list of the best animal experiences near you to do with the kids!
VIP Animal Experiences at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park
Suitable for: 8+
There are so many cool and exotic animal experiences at Longleat that we just don’t know where to begin! The awesome up-close animal encounters suitable for kids feature all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures, including lions, giraffes, giant anteaters, meerkats, marmosets and creepy crawlies. Kids over 10 can participate in even more activities, such as a Gorilla Feeding Experience and a Big Cats Photo Opportunity. Told you there was loads of choice! Whatever you pick, though, it will be one special animal encounter, that’s for sure.
Zoo Keeper for a Day at Drusillas Park
Suitable for: 6+
In order to become a zoo keeper for a day at Drusillas Park, you only need to be minimum 6-years-old. There’s no maximum age because who wouldn’t like to feed penguins, meerkats and lemurs, right? As part of the experience, you and the kids will meet a real zoo keeper, who will share 3 1/2 hours of their working day with you. You’ll learn how to feed, clean and care for a whole bunch of feathery and furry friends. This experience runs all year long, even during school holidays, so it’s the perfect gift for any special occasion.
Animal Experiences at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm
Suitable for: 4+
At Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm, tiny sprogs, as young as four, can also take part in an animal experience! Every Friday, for an hour, your young farmers (4-6) can hand feed the goats, pigs, ponies and the rest of the farm animals. Kids over six are welcome on the Junior Keeper for a Day Experience. It will have them start off at the farm and move on to more exotic creatures, like meerkats and giraffes. From age 10 upwards, the nature lovers in the house can also get close to the bigger zoo animals, including 3-tonne rhinos and fun-loving zebras. Really, it feels like at Noah’s Ark you can make friends with the whole animal kingdom!
Animal Feeding Experiences at Folly Farm
Suitable for: 8+
Folly Farm has the best animal experiences in Wales, that’s for sure! Put your little nature lovers (8+) in charge of feeding the adorable penguins at Penguin Coast beach and watch them shine proud at the heart of the daily penguin talk at the farm. Fancy getting inside the giraffe's enclosure? That’s another exciting experience for the over-eights. Moving on to the bigger animals at Folly Farm, kids over 10 are allowed to enter the rhinos’ private living area and hand feed the friendly giants. Your wild little ones will have a proper go at the daily tasks of a zoo keeper, even the unpleasant bits, including cleaning!
Fish Keeper for a Day Experience at Sea Life Brighton
Suitable for: 9+
Love all wildlife? Why not try something a little different and swap the furry zoo animals for wonderful marine creatures with a Fish Keeper for a Day Experience at Sea Life Brighton! Your little ones will get to join the professional fish keepers for feeding time and get up-close to rays, sharks and some of the bigger fish. They’ll even have the chance to prepare the meal themselves! Plus, a backstage tour is also on the agenda, so the kids will feel like true VIPs.
Animal Experiences at Twycross Zoo
Suitable for: 3+
There are all sorts of animals you can feed at Twycross Zoo, you just have to pick your favourite. And yes, that’s right - even your 3-year-olds can take part. All you have to do is choose the giraffes, the otters or the lemurs. Think the kids would enjoy jumping into the action behind the scenes? Well, tell them to roll up their sleeves and get ready to work hard, as the Junior Keeper Experience (7-17) will throw them right into the busy life of a zoo keeper! Your tiny animal carers may be tired out by the end of the day, but they’ll definitely leave very, very excited - it may even inspire a new future career path!
Zoo Keeper Experiences at Battersea Park Children’s Zoo
Suitable for: 5+
The animal experiences at Battersea Park Children’s Zoo, like everything else there, are designed with tiny animal lovers in mind. Mini Keepers (5+) will be invited to make friends with the animals at Barley Mow Farm and to help with the guinea pigs, rabbits and wallabies. One of the other highlights is the chance to make a toy for the monkeys or the meerkats. Junior Keepers (9+) will also start their keeper for a day experience at Barley Mow Farm. Then, they’ll drop by the coatis’ enclosure to say “Hi” before the toy-making portion of the day. Much more hands-on animal care tasks are on the cards, as well!
Zoo Keeper Experiences at Edinburgh Zoo
Suitable for: 5+
Another zoo which offers different kid-friendly Keeper for a Day experiences is Edinburgh Zoo. Mini (5-7) and Junior (8-15) Keepers will both have the opportunity to take an inside look at the inner workings of the zoo and to create special hands-on moments with the animals who live there. The experiences are adapted to fit the interests of your child’s age group. For example, younger kids are offered a 90-minute morning experience, whereas older kids get to take part in a 3-hour afternoon experience.
Junior Keeper Experience for Bristol Zoo
Suitable for: 6 - 15
If you think that more is always better, the Junior Keeper Experience at Bristol Zoo is the right one for you. Unlike most animal experiences, here you don’t have to pick one animal to spend time with. After a visit of the whole zoo, you’ll get to go on a 2-hour tour with a zoo keeper. Along the way, you’ll get to learn about many creatures and get involved in feeding, housekeeping and animal enrichment. To sweeten the deal, kids get a souvenir, a certificate and activity book to take home.
Animal Encounters at Chester Zoo
Suitable for: 8+
If you love going to the zoo, you’ve probably been to Chester Zoo a million times already. Now, it’s time to go on an exciting close encounter with your favourite zoo residents! Meerkat, Aardvark and Penguin Encounters are amongst the animal experiences suitable for kids, as young as eight. For a Giraffe Encounter, however, your little explorers have to be a little bit older - over 11. Make sure you book early, though, as the animal experiences at Chester Zoo are quite popular.
Owl Keeper Experience at The Staffordshire Owl Experience and Birds of Prey Rescue Centre
We’ve tried all the cute and cuddly animals but how about an animal experience with a new feathery friend? The Staffordshire Owl Sanctuary organises Owl Keeper Days where your little nature lovers get the chance to spend some time at the birds rescue centre and find out what it takes to keep all sanctuary business running smoothly all day long. Sounds tiring? Don’t worry, big deeds require energy, so a lunch at the Red Lion Farm ice cream cafe, plus refreshments throughout the day are included in the full-day package.
Just want to hold an owl and get a quick tour? That’s an animal experience you can currently give your kids for free when you become a Day Out With The Kids member!
Been a zoo keeper for a day and done your favourite animal experience?
If you’re like us and you believe one can never have enough the animal days out, check out these days out ideas, perfect for animal lovers: