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Top 11 Best Zoos in the UK | Ratepunk

If looking for a fun day out, visiting a zoo can be a truly unforgettable experience. And luckily, the UK is home to some of the best zoos in the world.

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By Eglė

Published: Mar 06, 2023 min read

Top 11 Best Zoos in the UK | Ratepunk

 From adorable pandas in Edinburgh to funny penguins in Devon, there's no shortage of fascinating creatures to see and learn about. But with so many options, how do you decide which zoos are worth visiting? We'll take a closer look at some of the top zoos in the UK, highlighting the unique features and attractions that make each one special. So get ready for some roar-some adventures as we explore the best zoos in the UK!

1. Chester Zoo, Cheshire

Hold onto your hats, animal lovers, because our first stop on this wild ride of the best zoos in the UK is none other than Chester Zoo - a world-renowned destination that's been hailed as one of the top 10 zoos on the planet! Close to Liverpool, this is the most-visited zoo in the UK, and loads of people think it's the best in England. Why? With over 20,000 species of animals from every corner of the globe, Chester Zoo is an absolute must-visit for anyone passionate about the natural world. In addition, it has the biggest zoo-based butterfly house in the UK, an interactive fruit bat forest (with hundreds of bats all whizzing around your head!), a walk-through bird center, and an excellent Madagascan habitat. 

But that's just the tip of the iceberg - other highlights at Chester Zoo include the wetland aviary, a parrot breeding center, an aquarium, and a lazy river. With more than 35,000 animals, there's no shortage of fascinating creatures to discover. Some of the most popular animals include African-painted dogs, jaguars, lions, black rhinos, loads of monkeys and macaques, and plenty more. And if you're looking to get up close and personal with these fantastic animals, Chester Zoo's daily talks and animal encounters are not to be missed. However, it's such a busy place, so you better get here early - they welcome around 2 million visitors a year. 

Address: Moston Rd, Upton, Chester CH2 1EU, United Kingdom

Entrance fee:  Usually £32.50 for adults, £30 for students, and £26 for children. Under-2s are free

Book tickets online to Chester Zoo

RatePunk best zoos in the UK Chester zoo

2. ZSL London Zoo

London Zoo is a true icon and a must-visit destination for everyone. Established way back in 1828, it's not only one of the oldest zoos in England, but also the most ancient scientific zoo in the world. Initially created as a research hub for scientists to study animals and nature, London Zoo opened its doors to the public in 1874, and has been delighting visitors ever since.

One of the biggest draws of the London Zoo is its impressive collection of animals. With over 19,000 creatures representing hundreds of species, there's something here for everyone. The Insect House is a particular favorite, and kids will love exploring the dedicated zoo for children. There's also an aquarium, and of course, the iconic penguin pool - watching these adorable birds waddle and swim is an absolute delight. 

Moreover, the zoo is more than just a daytime attraction. During the summer months, they run Zoo Lates - an evening event where you can enjoy a silent disco and see the animals with more adults around rather than children. If you want to make your visit to London Zoo even more special, you can even stay overnight. The zoo offers cozy cabins year-round, where you can enjoy dinner, breakfast, and an after-hours tour of the zoo. So why not extend your adventure and truly immerse yourself in the wonder of this historic zoo?

Address: London Zoo, Outer Cir, London, NW1 4RY

Entrance fee:  Usually £35.50 for adults, £32 for students, and £23.10 for children. Prices are lower during the off-season

Book tickets online to London Zoo

3. ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Dunstable

If you're looking for a zoo experience like no other, Whipsnade is the place for you. This vast zoo covers a whopping 600 acres of land, and the animals here are very well cared for - their huge enclosures are a testament to that. Located northwest of London, Whipsnade is so big that it has public transport routes inside the park. And if you want to make your visit even more unique, you can even stay overnight!

But it's the animals that really steal the show here. With tigers, zebras, lions, cheetahs, penguins, elephants, chimpanzees, hippos, bears, rhinos, and so much more, there's no shortage of incredible creatures to discover. In total, there are over 230 different species represented at one of the best zoos in the UK - ZSL Whipsnade ZOO, and more than 3,500 individual animals. And if you want to get up close and personal with some of these magnificent creatures, Whipsnade Zoo offers interactive meet-the-animals experiences. So you can get close to giraffes, elephants, lions, and tigers and learn all about their lives and habits.

But it's not just about entertainment - conservation, and protection are also top priorities at Whipsnade. The zoo has an excellent aquarium featuring some fish that are now extinct in the wild and has even helped to conserve the last-ever species of wild horse, breeding them before reintroducing them to China. So when you visit Whipsnade, you can feel good knowing that your visit is helping to support significant conservation efforts.

Address: Whipsnade, Dunstable LU6 2LF, United Kingdom

Entrance fee: weekday prices £17.25-£25.65, weekend prices £18.55-£28.50, 

Book tickets online to the Whipsnade Zoo

Amur tiger in Whipsnade zoo, RatePunk

4. Wild Place Project, Bristol

The Wild Place Project in Bristol is an exciting new zoo and wildlife park, taking over from the now-closed Bristol Zoo. The team at Wild Place Project is dedicated to conservation and has saved over 175 species from extinction in almost 200 years. Although they may not have all the largest animals found at other zoos, they have plenty of unique and unusual species, including lions, gorillas, pythons, aye-ayes, monkeys, dwarf crocodiles, gibbons, Gila monsters, armadillos, snakes, squirrel monkeys and many more.

It's also an affordable zoo option with reasonable entry fees. You'll get to spot various animals worldwide. If you're visiting with kids, they'll love the play areas such as Fun Fort, Congo Bongo, and the Barefoot Trail. And for the adventurous, the Leap of Faith is an exciting outdoor climbing experience for both adults and children.

When it's time for a break, head to the Base Camp Pizzeria, open on weekends and school holidays. You can enjoy delicious freshly made pizzas prepared by onsite chefs in stone-based ovens, with vegan and gluten-free options available. The Pizzeria is right behind the cheetah enclosure, so you can enjoy the view while eating.

Address: Wild Place, Blackhorse Hill, Bristol BS10 7TP, United Kingdom

Entrance fee: £10.45-£13.95 during the off-season and £13.95-£17.95 during the peak season. Under-2s are free

Book tickets online to Wild Place Bristol

Wild Place Bristol zoo RatePunk

5. Longleat Safari Park, Dorset

Longleat Safari Park is a top pick for a day out, and it's easy to see why! This park has been entertaining families since 1966, and they're still going strong. One of the main attractions at Longleat Safari Park is the drive-through animal encounters, which have been a hit with visitors for years. But that's not all - there's so much more to see and do! Visit Penguin Island or Stingray Bay, take a Jungle Cruise, or explore the adventure castle. You'll find something for everyone at Longleat. If you're looking for a more relaxing activity, why not try fishing? Longleat Estate's five lakes offer some of the best quality coarse fishing in Britain. And for those who love trains, the Longleat Railway is a "ridable miniature railway" that takes you on a scenic 1.25-mile journey through the woodland and along Half Mile Lake.

Longleat Safari Park truly is the total package, catering to animal lovers, thrill-seekers, and those who just want to relax and enjoy the scenery. It's a must-visit destination for anyone looking for a "roaring good time" in the UK! 

Address: Longleat Safari Park, Warminster, BA12 7NW

Entrance Fees: £34.95 for adults and £26.20 for children. Under-2s are free

Book tickets online to Longleat Safari Park

Longleat Safari Park, RatePunk, best zoos in the UK
6.Flamingo Land, Yorkshire

Although it is not a typical zoo, I wanted to include Flamingo Land on this list. It is the ultimate combo of a theme park, Zoo, and holiday village that easily lands in the top 10 best zoos in the UK and is the best in Yorkshire! Did you know that Flamingo Land has a pretty cool history? It was the first place in the UK to house an orca, Cuddles, from 1968 to 1971 and was even renamed Flamingo Park Zoo then. The Zoo offers various experiences: close-up views of lions, lemurs & much more, encounter giraffes, or even be a zoo keeper for a day. But wait, there's more! The park boasts breathtaking views over Ryedale and the Yorkshire Moors and is home to the largest amusement park in North England. Get your adrenaline pumping with large-scale roller coasters like Kumali, a Vekoma Suspended Looping Coaster, Mumbo Jumbo (which was once the steepest coaster in the world), and Velocity, the UK's only motorbike roller coaster.

Whether you're looking to chill with flippered friends or take the wildest rides, Flamingo Land is the perfect destination! So, prepare for a day filled with fun, thrills, and memories that'll last a lifetime!

Address: Kirby Misperton, Malton YO17 6UX, United Kingdom

Entrance fee: £14.50-£39.00 

Book tickets online to Flamingo Land

7. Edinburgh Zoo, Scotland

If you travel around Scotland, visit the world-renowned Edinburgh Zoo, one of the top zoos in the UK! Visitors rave about the incredible experience of getting up close and personal with the animals, thanks to the zoo's unique design that eliminated traditional cage bars. Edinburgh zoo is a mini world tour featuring a diverse range of animals, from pandas to penguins, allowing visitors to explore the animal kingdom without ever leaving the city. In fact, Edinburgh Zoo is the only zoo in the UK that is home to giant pandas on loan from China! 

Moreover, Edinburgh Zoo has a variety of talks and events scheduled throughout the year, including opportunities to discover Asian small-clawed otters, take a Dino Discovery tour, and meet the giant pandas themselves! The zoo offers animal adoption and membership programs for those looking for a more hands-on experience. By becoming a member, you can gain access to all the exciting events and experiences that the zoo has to offer.

Edinburgh Zoo is also famous for its Sir Nils Olav, the world's only knighted penguin, and the Tiger Tracks glass viewing tunnel, where you can meet the majestic Sumatran tigers face-to-face. With 1000 animals spread over 80 acres, you won't want to miss the penguin enclosure or the walk-through experiences featuring monkeys and lemurs. I can go on & on, but you get the idea - Edinburgh Zoo is worth visiting!

Address: Edinburgh Zoo, 134 Corstorphine Rd, Corstorphine, Edinburgh EH12 6TS, UK

Entrance fee: £13.95- £24.50 

Book tickets online to Edinburgh Zoo

Edinbourg zoo the best in the UK RatePunk recommends

8. Belfast Zoo, Belfast

Although Northern Ireland is relatively small, it still boasts a fantastic zoo perfect for a day out. Belfast Zoo is situated in a tranquil and secluded area, which offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Covering 55 acres and featuring 116 species, many of which are endangered or extinct in the wild, Belfast Zoo is home to many animals. From lions and gorillas to pygmy goats and penguins, just another great zoo to spot many cuties of the wild world. Also, daily talks and feeding sessions are available for visitors.

First opened in 1934, Belfast Zoo has been a popular attraction for families for almost 90 years. With over a thousand animals and 120 different species, it's like a wild kingdom all of its own. The zoo's hills and caves are steeped in history and offer a unique backdrop for a day out. And remember to ask about the tale of Sheila the Elephant and Denise Weston Austin - it's a story worth hearing! For those looking for a different memorable experience, Belfast Zoo offers the chance to walk in the shoes of a zookeeper and learn more about the animals and their habitats. And if you're looking for a unique weekend activity, why not treat your special someone to a wild and fantastic day at Belfast Zoo? It's one of the best zoos in the UK and a real hidden gem in Belfast.

Address: Belfast Zoo, Antrim Rd, Belfast BT36 7PN, United Kingdom

Entrance Fees: £13.50 for adults and £7.25 for children

Book tickets online to Longleat Safari Park

Belfast zoo RatePunk

9. Welsh Mountain Zoo, Colwyn Bay

Need more recommendations? No problem, because we have yet to mention Welsh Mountain Zoo. Nested in the stunning northern countryside of Wales, the oldest zoo in the country boasts a picturesque location with breathtaking views of Colwyn Bay and surrounding mountains. Despite its smaller size of 37 acres, the zoo offers an impressive range of over 140 species, including the majestic snow leopards, playful sea lions, and charming red pandas.As the park continues to expand its attractions, visitors can soon look forward to animal encounters with penguins, primates, and sea lions. With so much to see and do, most people spend a half-day at the park before venturing out to explore the spectacular sights of north Wales.

The coastline is particularly noteworthy with its hidden beaches, while Snowdonia National Park provides a dramatic backdrop for outdoor adventures. With all these stunning attractions, it's no wonder the oldest zoo in Wales remains a popular destination for families. 

Address: Welsh Mountain Zoo,  Old Hwy, Colwyn Bay LL28 5UY, United Kingdom

Entrance Fees: £12.47-£16.56 (Online prices) / £18.40- £13.85

Book tickets online to Welsh Mountain Zoo

Welsh Mountain Zoo in the UK RatePunk
10. Port Lympne Reserve, Hythe, Kent

Port Lympne Reserve is not your average zoo, but rather a conservation site and sanctuary for rare and endangered animals. The 600-acre reserve is home to over 650 animals of 75 species, including monkeys, leopards, gorillas, rhinos, langurs, gibbons, and more. The reserve's primary focus is on breeding endangered animals for eventual release back into the wild.

Visitors can take safaris in vehicles or on foot to see the animals and learn about their natural habitats and the reserve's conservation efforts. The reserve has received praise for being a great family day out so if you're interested in animal protection and conservation, Port Lympne Reserve is a must-visit destination.

Address: Port Lympne Reserve, Aldington Rd, Lympne, Hythe CT21 4LR, United Kingdom

Entrance Fees: £26-£29

Book tickets online to Port Lympne Reserve

Port Lympne Reserve, Hythe, Kent RatePunk Zoos in the UK

11. Knowsley Safari Park 

I thought that the Top 10 best zoos in the UK would be enough, but I found one more safari park I would like to mention. This place is an absolute gem and has everything you need for a fantastic day out. Picture this: driving through animal enclosures and getting up close and personal with incredible beasts like baboons, camels, wildebeest, and rhinos! Knowsley Safari Park is also a champion for British wildlife, with gorgeous woods, grasslands, and water serving as a home to amazing creatures like stoats, weasels, grey and red squirrels, and even graceful brown hares. Plus, the park is a true botanist's dream, with bee and pyramid orchids and all sorts of fungi from puffballs to stinkhorns. 

This park is a real standout among the best zoos in the UK for animal lovers. And with its membership in the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) and the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), you know you're in for a top-notch experience.

Address: Knowsley Safari Park, Prescot L34 4AN, United Kingdom

Entrance Fees: usually costs £14.00 but on weekends £15.00 for children and £18.50 for adults 

Book tickets online to Knowsley Safari Park 

Knowsley Safari Park in Liverpool, RatePunk
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Mar 06, 2023

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