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21 Best Zoos in the UK for The Perfect Day Out

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Looking for the top 10 best zoos in the UK?

As someone who grew up visiting zoos across Britain, I’m thrilled to share my list of the top zoos and wildlife parks that let you get eye-to-eye with incredible animals. From playful meerkats to majestic giraffes, prepare for a wildly good time!

Why You Should Visit Zoos in the UK

Many zoos in the UK lead the way globally when it comes to animal care and conservation. At the best zoos, huge naturalistic enclosures have replaced cages and let extraordinary animals thrive.

For example, ZSL London Zoo’s “Land of the Lions” exhibit features elevated walkways and floor-to-ceiling glass for unobstructed viewing. And Chester Zoo’s spacious “Monsoon Forest” habitat houses threatened animals like orangutans in a warm, humid environment.

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✈️ Flights: for the cheapest flights, I use Skyscanner
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Visiting these zoos also supports critical breeding and reintroduction programs. At Howletts Wild Animal Park for instance, over 70 gorillas raised there have returned to the wild!

Beyond conservation, nothing beats the magic of locking eyes with a curious lemur or watching a gang of playful otters frolic. It’s an adventure I love sharing with my baby daughter!

PS: Let me let you in on a little money-saving hack. Sign up for the email newsletters from your favorite UK zoos to snag exclusive discounts year-round. The deals can be beastly good during quieter seasons too! I scored 50% off winter tickets to ZSL London Zoo, letting my family frolic with furry friends for a fraction of peak prices.

21 Best Zoos in the UK (2024 Edition)

Your complete guide to all the top zoos England has to offer, including biggest zoo in UK, best zoo in UK for animal welfare and top wildlife experiences.

🦧 Quick Guide: Top 5 Best Zoos in the UK

👉 Short on time? Here’s a quick guide to help you decide which zoo to visit (click on the links to book your tickets 🎟️)

🥇 #1: Chester Zoo (Cheshire) – voted best zoo in UK and one of the best zoos in the world

🥈 #2: ZSL London Zoo (North London) – best zoo in UK for animal welfare

🥉 #3: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo (Bedfordshire) – biggest zoo in UK

🏅 #4: Longleat Safari Park (Berkshire) – best safari park in UK, best drive through safari experience

🏅 #5: Flamingo Land (Yorkshire) – best combined zoo and theme park in UK

1. ZSL London Zoo, North London

You know when something’s so amazing, you just have to rave about it? Well, that’s how I feel about ZSL London Zoo (also known as Regents Park Zoo). As far as zoos go, this place is the absolute cream of the crop.

double-humped camels at zsl london zoo

ZSL London Zoo began in 1828 as a scientific hub for studying animals. But soon enough, people were itching to glimpse nature’s wildest creatures too! By 1874, London Zoo opened its doors so everyone could enjoy feeds, shows, and up-close encounters.

And with over 19,000 animals across a whopping 720 species, this zoo delivers on diversity! From tiny insects to playful penguins, you’ll find a menagerie of creatures to delight all ages.

I loved watching the penguins waddle about during feeding time. And the Insect House buzzes with some of the rarest bugs on the planet! Families also rave about the reptile room, aquarium, and hands-on kids’ zoo.

👉 Bonus tip: London Zoo hosts adults-only Zoo Lates events with silent discos, bars, and exclusive after-hours animal tours. Or you can go wild and book an overnight stay in the zoo’s cozy cabins, with meals and private wildlife viewing included!

And, if you needed any more convincing, check this out! The Director General of ZSL, Dominic Jermey, says that zoos like ZSL London Zoo play a crucial role in bringing wildlife back from the brink. So not only will you have a blast, but you’ll also be contributing to a great cause!

>> Save 10% when you book in advance! <<

ZSL London Zoo (Google Maps location)
Admission: full details on website
Opening times: 10am-5pm daily

2. Longleat Safari Park, Dorset

As one of the oldest zoos in England, opened in 1966, Longleat Safari and Adventure Park has perfected the drive-through zoo experience in its 50+ years. What sets Longleat apart is getting eye-to-eye with exotic animals roaming spacious enclosures right from your car!

Rothschild giraffes at longleat safari park

Whether it’s a moody lion pride surveying their territory or gang of monkeys playing roadside pranks, surprises await at every turn. For the especially daring, you can join select animal feedings too.

Rain or shine, Longleat delivers beastly fun. Cruising around as giraffes drift past truly feels like going on safari – no passport required. As you ride through this African wilderness, informative audio commentary automatically plays to guide you through the incredible ecosystems and residents.

👉 Good to know: For a foolproof family adventure, you can tune into Kate Humble of Animal Park’s lively narration to lead the way in spotting wildlife while avoiding any car mishaps.

As a child, I adored hand-feeding the giraffes from my Dad’s car window. And Longleat’s ever-expanding enclosures mean future generations can enjoy this iconic British safari park.

Longleat Safari Park (Google Maps location)
Admission: see website
Opening times: 10am-5pm (open til 6pm on Sundays)

👉 Travel tip: Make the most of your day by coupling a visit to Longleat Safari with a trip to nearby Stonehenge.

3. ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Bedfordshire

Spanning a wild 600 acres, Whipsnade Zoo proudly wears the crown as England’s largest zoo. And with space comes animals – lots of them! Whipsnade is home to the country’s biggest collection of wildlife. We’re talking 1,500 creatures across 170 threatened species.

asian elephants walking at zsl whipsnade zoo

To cover all that ground, you can hitch rides on buses and trains touring the zoo. Or channel your inner explorer and safari through by car to spot grazing herds of deer or the towering giraffes dotting the horizon.

Don’t just come for the views though. Get ready for a parade of animal magic across habitats tailored to help these endangered residents thrive. Marvel at the roar of the African lions and waddle of clumsy penguins. Say sawasdee to the herd of bubbly Asian elephants. And gaze up in wonder at the kaleidoscope of butterflies in the tropical house, more colourful than the rarest blooms.

Between red pandas in the trees and muntjac deer roaming free, surprises await at every turn. With so many rare species in one wildlife haven, Whipsnade offers a spirited conservation mission you can feel good supporting.

>> Pre-booking for Whipsnade Zoo is essential. <<

Whipsnade Zoo (Google Maps location)
Admission: see website
Opening times: 10am-5pm daily

👉 Looking for more outdoor adventures near London? Check out this list of top mazes near London.

Narrowing down the best of Britain’s world-class zoos is no easy feat, but after consulting our community of devoted animal enthusiasts,
we managed to highlight the top contenders famous for their diverse species, natural habitats, and conservation efforts.

4. Chester Zoo, Cheshire

With 20,000 animals and 60 species spread across 128 acres of gardens, this North West zoo offers an unforgettable experience. Don’t miss their daily “Islands” show featuring an erupting volcano!

asian elephants bathing at chester zoo

Having first visited Chester Zoo as a child, I have fond memories of the free-roaming monkeys and otters along the pathways. And the zoo’s continued focus on natural habitats and conservation ensures it remains at the top of its game.

Chester Zoo is not only one of the best zoos in England and top zoos in the UK, it’s also recognized as one of the top 10 zoos in the world, and was even voted the 3rd best zoo in the world on TripAdvisor back in 2016.

👉 Fun fact: Chester Zoo is the most visited zoo in the UK with a whopping 1.5 million guests every year. It’s clearly the number one zoo in Britain!

But it’s not just the animals that make Chester Zoo awesome. They’ve also got a stunning Grade II listed venue and amazing events team to help create special memories with the opening of a 380-capacity wedding venue.

21 Best Zoos in the UK for The Perfect Day Out 1

If a day trip isn’t enough zoo for you, Chester Zoo is about to get even more wild! Imagine waking up to giraffe heads poking through your bedroom window. Well, soon you can camp overnight lakeside at those new Grasslands lodges, with over 60 plush cabins planned!

The lakefront restaurant will dish up delicious safari views too. It’s perfect for families seeking a full-on wildlife immersion getaway – no need to imagine going on safari when the animals are on your doorstep!

Chester is also unveiling an epic expanded snow leopard habitat amid their rugged mountain backdrop. You’ll be able to spot these elusive big cats hunting and leaping across the cliffs up close through floor-to-ceiling outlooks.

Between the cuddly pandas and acrobatic snow leopards, Chester Zoo continues pushing boundaries, cementing its place as a world leader in conservation and animal welfare.

Chester Zoo (Google Maps location)
Admission: Adults: £29, children (3-17 years): £24, Seniors/students: £26
Opening times: 10am-4pm daily (last admission 3pm)

5. Flamingo Land, Yorkshire

Get ready for this – Flamingo Land is the only spot in the UK that combines a theme park, zoo, and holiday village all in one. Yup, it’s a 3-in-1 extravaganza! No wonder it’s easily one of the top 10 zoos in the UK and the number one zoo in Yorkshire.

flamingoes eating at flamingo land

👉 Fun fact: It was actually the first in Britain to have an orca named Cuddles back from 1968 to 1971. Around then it was renamed Flamingo Park Zoo.

And let me tell you, the views here are insane! Overlooking the beautiful Ryedale valley and Yorkshire Moors, Flamingo Land is the biggest theme park in northern England.

It’s known for its epic rollercoasters that’ll get your heart pumping. We’re talking rides like Kumali, Mumbo Jumbo which was once the steepest coaster ever, and Velocity – the only motorbike coaster in the UK!

Flamingo Land (Google Maps location)
Admission: see website
Opening times: 10am-4pm daily

Map of UK Best Zoos

21 Best Zoos in the UK for The Perfect Day Out 2

6. Edinburgh Zoo, Scotland

Edinburgh Zoo is one of the best and most famous zoos in the UK, and here’s why:

  • It’s a tourist hot spot, with visitors rating it high on the scale of “amazing day outs”.
  • It was the first in Britain to get rid of the cage bars and bring animals and visitors closer, creating a more natural experience.
  • You can find a range of animals from all around the world, from the bamboo-munching pandas to the ocean-dwelling penguins. It’s like taking a mini-world tour without leaving the city.
  • It’s the only zoo in the UK to host iconic giant pandas on loand from China.
emperor penguins at edinburgh zoo

You can read more facts about Edinburgh Zoo and the city in general here.

Anyway, according to their site, they’ve got a “whole bunch of talks and events lined up, including “Discover Asian small-clawed otters”, “Dino Discovery tour”, and “Discover giant pandas”. And if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can even “Discover penguins”!”

👉 Bonus tip: You can “support your zoo” by adopting an animal, or become a member and take part in all the exciting events and experiences they have to offer.

Edinburgh Zoo (Google Maps location)
Admission: see website
Opening times: 10am-4pm daily

7. Cotswold Wildlife Park, The Cotswolds

One of the best wildlife attractions in the UK, Cotswold Wildlife Park is packed with 160 acres of beautiful parkland and stunning gardens where you can take a stroll and get up close and personal with over 260 species of animals.

two zebras relaxing and eating at cotswold wildlife park

👉 Top tip: The Cotswold Wildlife Park lets visitors walk alongside endangered rhinos and feed friendly giraffes by hand!

From giraffes you can look eye-to-eye with to walking alongside curious lemurs, this place is guaranteed to give you a wild time. And don’t miss the cozy Tropical House where you can spot adorable sloths hanging out in the trees and other cuddly critters.

I dropped by Cotswold Wildlife Park when I spent a weekend exploring the Cotswolds in the summer of 2020, and can recommend it as a highlight of any unforgettable Cotswolds experience!

Overall, Cotswold Wildlife Park offers a one-of-a-kind, exciting experience for animal lovers of all ages.

Cotswold Wildlife Park (Google Maps location)
Admission: see website
Opening times: 10am-3pm daily

8. Blackpool Zoo, Lancashire

This zoo-perb, family-friendly zoo is located in one of Britain’s favorite seaside hotspots and promises to be an educational and totally fun day out for everyone.

an aardvark searching for food at blackpool zoo

With over 1000 animals from A to Z (literally, Aardvarks to Zebras), Blackpool Zoo is a hidden gem that spans 37 acres of spacious parkland and lakes.

👉 Top tip: kids under 3 get in for free! Now that’s a budget-friendly option for families with little tykes. But don’t wait too long to visit or the parking lot fills up fast. On busy days, make sure to arrive early to get a spot.

Blackpool Zoo was once named third best zoo and 10th in Europe in the TripAdvisor Travellers Awards!

I’m absolutely delighted that our visitors have elevated Blackpool Zoo to 3rd best zoo in the UK and 10th in Europe!  We do listen to our visitors’ suggestions for improvements and changes, and the continued investment in new animal enclosures and guest facilities has obviously paid off. “ – Darren Webster, Blackpool Zoo director

Tickets range from £7.50 to £18.99. So grab your wallets and get ready for a wild time! With free admission for tiny tots and reasonable rates for everyone else, this place is the perfect zoo for families.

Blackpool Zoo (Google Maps location)
Admission: see website
Opening times: 10am-4:45pm

9. Knowsley Safari Park, Liverpool

Listen up folks, if you’re looking for an epic safari adventure – Knowsley Safari Park is one of the top kid-friendly days out in northwest England. This place is a real showstopper, and for good reason.

a young deer looking ahead at knowsley safari park

To start, it’s a full-on drive-through safari park. You can cruise through the enclosures and see the animals up close and personal. From baboons to camels, wildebeest to rhinos – you name it, they’ve got it roaming around.

But there’s more! This park highlights the best of British wildlife too. It’s got woods, grasslands and ponds that are home to magnificent local creatures like stoats, weasels, squirrels, and graceful brown hares.

It’s not just about the animals either – botanists will love the rare orchids and funky fungi like puffballs and stinkhorns.

Knowsley Safari Park is easily one of the top zoos in the UK for animal lovers. And its membership in major zoo organizations like BIAZA and EAZA adds to its credibility big time.

Knowsley Safari Park (Google Maps location)
Admission: see website
Opening times: 10am-5pm daily

10. Colchester Zoo, Essex

Of the finest zoos in south of England, look no further than Colchester Zoo: it’s like a wild kingdom of over 160 different species from all over the world, all living together in harmony in 60 acres of parkland and lakes.

giraffes, zebras and antelopes relaxing near the entrance of colchester zoo

You’ll go on a journey through different habitats, from the Komodo dragons’ steamy jungle to the African plain, where you’ll spot white rhinos, giraffes, ostriches, zebras, and kudus all chillin’.

What’s more, they’ve got some real rarities and endangered species, too. We’re talking big cats, primates, and birds, as well as some cool insects and fish. Just be aware that due to some bird flu BS, some of the feathery friends are off-show for the time being.

“We are proudly listed as the 11th best zoo around the world and in the top two zoos in the UK as part of the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Attractions.” – Colchester Zoo

Colchester Zoo makes for a wonderful day trip from London too!

Colchester Zoo (Google Maps location)
Admission: see website
Opening times: Mon-Fri: 9:30am-4:30pm, Sat-Sun: 9:30am-5pm

11. Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, Devon

Nestled in Devon’s seaside town of Paignton, Paignton Zoo houses crocodiles, lemurs, and the UK’s largest colony of giant Galapagos tortoises.

tiger relaxing at paignton zoo

This place is one of the most exciting zoos in the Southwest for getting up close with nature and learning some neat things along the way.

👉 Good to know: This is not just a regular zoo – it’s a registered charity that supports conservation projects in the UK and worldwide too. So while you’re having fun, you’re also doing good!

Across 80 acres there are over 2,500 animals representing more species than any other zoo in the region. We’re talking lions, tigers, giraffes, crocodiles, rhinos, lemurs, flamingos, meerkats, orangutans, and even a Komodo dragon!

According to TripAdvisor, this zoo is the spot for a “great giraffe experience day out.” So grab your family and friends for a day filled with animal encounters, education, and good vibes. You’ll make memories to last a lifetime!

Paignton Zoo (Google Maps location)
Admission: see website
Opening times: 10am-4:30pm daily

12. Wild Place Project, Somerset

Well, Wild Place Project is a fun family attraction that gives you the chance to get up close and personal with some pretty amazing animals from all over the world. From the mischievous lemurs of Madagascar to magnificent European brown bears, you’re in for a treat here!

east african monkeys at wild place project

Not only that, but you can feel good about your visit because it supports the park’s conservation efforts. It’s run by the Bristol Zoological Society, which was previously the sister site of Bristol Zoo until it closed down in 2022. But don’t worry, the Wild Place Project will soon be the new Bristol Zoo and home to even more exhibits!

Wild Place Project (Google Maps location)
Admission: see website
Opening times: 10am-4pm daily

13. Welsh Mountain Zoo, North Wales

Shwmae guys! If you’re lookin’ for a chill and wild time in North Wales, Welsh Mountain Zoo should definitely be on your list! It’s got all the goods – from being a fun-filled day out to having a ton of furry and feathered friends for you to meet. And the best part? It’s not gonna break the bank!

view of a tiger facing to the left at welsh mountain zoo
photo credit: Steve Wilson

This zoo’s got a pretty rich history, starting way back in 1963 by a wildlife enthusiast named Robert Jackson. It covers 37 acres of pure animal kingdom magic. And seems like it’s getting plenty of love, with 45K views, 204 likes, 83 loves, 33 comments, and 599 shares on Facebook.

In short, if you want to see some amazing creatures and have a blast, Welsh Mountain Zoo is where it’s at!

Welsh Mountain Zoo (Google Maps location)
Admission: see website
Opening times: 9:30am-3:20pm daily

14. Port Lympne Reserve, Kent

Check it out: Port Lympne Reserve in Kent is a straight up sanctuary for rare and endangered animals. They’re all about putting the animals first and making sure they live like royalty, from their digs to their grub.

a giraffe being fed at port lympne reserve

Set over 600 acres, with 650+ rare and endangered animals, you’re bound to find something that tickles your fancy. This isn’t your typical zoo, mind. It’s more of a reserve, so you might need a little bit of luck to see the animals you’re hoping for.

Port Lympne Reserve is also known for its commitment to animal conservation. They’ve successfully reintroduced over 70 gorillas back to the wild.

👉 Good to know: Beyond its wildlife residents, Port Lympne Reserve entices guests to prolong their stay at the on-site boutique hotel. This spacious sanctuary offers 13 lavish room types where you can continue soaking up scenic views after the day trippers depart.

Port Lympne Reserve (Google Maps location)
Admission: see website
Opening times: 9am-6pm daily

15. Marwell Zoo, Hampshire

Nestled in Hampshire’s idyllic countryside, Marwell Zoo reigns as the region’s wildest attraction, promising a roaring good time for families. Across 140 sprawling acres, over 100 animal species from flamingos to snow leopards call this zoo home.

four lemurs huddled together at marwell zoo

Yet what sets Marwell apart is its passionate mission to protect these threatened wildlife residents through critical conservation initiatives spanning the globe. It’s a level of commitment visitors can sense while wandering through thoughtfully designed habitats, like the spacious tiger forest.

Considered one of the best family-friendly zoos in the UK, Marwell Zoo features four lively adventure playgrounds sprinkled throughout ensuring kids have ample opportunity to release energy between animal viewings!

When you need refueling, the cafe dishes up hungry toddlers’ faves alongside grown-up fare. And the gift shop lets you take a cuddly memento of your new furry and feathered friends back home.

Marwell Zoo (Google Maps location)
Admission: see website
Opening times: 10am-5pm daily

16. Howletts Wild Animal Park, Kent

Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent, UK if famous for elephants, and loads of them! It’s a 90-acre wild adventure in beautiful ancient parkland, perfect for a crazy day out with the whole squad.

a family of african elephants at Howletts Wild Animal Park

And let me tell you, they don’t mess about when it comes to animals. They’re housing over 390 creatures, including Kent’s only giant anteaters, the biggest herd of African elephants in the UK, and more gorillas, leopards, and monkeys than any other zoo in the region.

But it’s not just about seeing animals, it’s about conservation too. Howletts is a breeding sanctuary for some of the most endangered species in the world, with over 300 animals across 47 species. Your visit here directly helps them protect wildlife and ultimately, send them back into the wild in conjunction with the Aspinall Foundation.

So yep, they’re pretty serious about saving the animals. It’s no wonder Howletts is one of the top zoos in England, and one of the most popular UK zoos.

Howletts Wild Animal Park (Google Maps location)
Admission: see website
Opening times: 9:30am-5pm daily

17. Folly Farm Adventure Park & Zoo, South Wales

Folly Farm Adventure Park & Zoo in Wales, UK is a super wacky place to be!

It’s not just a farm, it’s a whole lotta fun, with over 750 animals to see and 17 different rides in a vintage funfair. Not only can you get up really close with farmyard friends, you can even hand-milk goats at certain times of the day!

a penguin swimming and facing the camera at folly farm

Folly Farm was founded by Glyn Williams and his wife Anne in 1987, as a working dairy farm run by Glyn’s family for three generations. It may have started out as a dairy farm, but boy it’s come a long way since then.

They’ve got 120 acres of pure fun and adventure. The name may not describe everything the park has to offer now, but it’s part of their story and they’re fond of it.

Folly Farm (Google Maps location)
Admission: see website
Opening times: 10am-5pm daily

18. Belfast Zoo, Northern Ireland

The Belfast Zoological Gardens is like a wild kingdom of its own, with over a thousand animals of 120 species, and a ton of stories that’ll leave you goin’ “WOW!”

a lion relaxing and looking ahead at belfast zoo

It really is one of the best zoos in UK, the place has been around since 1934 and it’s a real hidden gem in Belfast, with its hills and caves that are steeped in rich history. And have you heard about the tale of Sheila the Elephant and Denise Weston Austin? That’s one story that’s worth hearin’.

Now if you’re feelin’ adventurous, why not walk in the shoes of a zookeeper and learn more about the animals and their habitats? Or if you’re lookin’ for a unique yet unusual Valentine’s Day experience, take your special someone to Belfast Zoo and treat them to a memorable day!

Belfast Zoo (Google Maps location)
Admission: see website
Opening times: 10am-4pm daily

19. Twycross Zoo, East Midlands

Twycross Zoo is among the most popular zoos in the UK purely for being home to the largest collection of monkeys and apes in the Western World! This place is a proper swinging scene, with a handful of different species of primates, including Bonobos, Chimpanzees, and Crowned Lemurs.

an adult gorilla sitting at twycross zoo

But it’s not just monkeys they got here. This spot also has other awesome beasts like Giraffes, Humboldt penguins, and Great grey owls. If you’re a fan of goats, they’ve got you covered with their Domestic goats. And if you’re looking for that little bit more excitement, check out their Gruffalo Discovery Land!

👉 Top tip: If you’re an NHS worker, you can get in for free in January. Brilliant!

Boasting over 500 animals across 125 species, Twycross Zoo stands as an award-winning conservation charity dedicated to endangered wildlife protection and breeding programs, so paying them a visit helps further this critical mission.

Though smaller than most zoos on this list, Twycross Zoo makes this list as it’s one of the closest zoos to me, as a West Midlands resident. That being said, it makes the perfect day trip from Birmingham, so is definitely worth a visit. If you’re in the area, come on down and have a blast!

Twycross Zoo (Google Maps location)
Admission: see website
Opening times: 10am-5pm daily

➤ For more East Midlands guides, here’s my 20 Family-Friendly Things to Do in Derby, and 17 Best Things to Do in Nottingham

20. Tilgate Nature Centre, West Sussex

With a whopping 70% of TripAdvisor reviews giving it 5 stars, Tilgate Zoo near Crawley, West Sussex, was once rated the overall best zoo in UK according to Parkdean Resorts and is a pretty cool place to visit.

two meerkats sitting at tilgate nature centre

It’s a quick jaunt from Crawley and easy to find, but you’ll need to cough up some cash for parking. You can take a picnic with you, or chow down at the cafe or Smith and Western restaurant.

And oh boy, you won’t be disappointed with the Tilgate Nature Centre! It’s got a staggering 144 different species, from otters to owls, tapirs to terrapins, and even reindeer to raccoon dogs. You can check out public talks and feeds, holiday activities, or even book a special experience, like “Meet the Meerkats”.

With such rave reviews, its no wonder Tilgate is one of the best British zoos, an absolute must-visit if you’re in the area.

Tilgate Nature Centre (Google Maps location)
Admission: see website
Opening times: 10am-4pm daily

21. Dudley Zoo and Castle, West Midlands

Get ready for an awesome day out at Dudley Zoo! This leading West Midlands attraction sits on 40 acres of landscaped grounds and is home to over 1,300 animals from all corners of the globe.

three meerkats perched on rocks in front of Dudley Castle at Dudley Zoo

From getting nose-to-nose with the ring-tailed lemurs to watching the majestic snow leopards prowl their enclosure, you’re guaranteed to have a wild time. Don’t miss the Chance & Countess Black Country Bear Pit, where you can see the zoo’s two European brown bears up close. These rescued creatures always put on an entertaining show!

And make sure to drop by the Tropical House, where exotic birds fly freely overhead as you walk among tropical plants and admire crocodiles basking in the sun. The active feeding talks and demonstrations are also a must-see to learn about how the dedicated zookeepers care for all the residents.

Since I live nearby, I’ve been to Dudley Zoo several times, but this year, I took my baby daughter for her first-ever zoo trip right here at Dudley Zoo, which made the visit all the more special for me.

Dudley Zoo and Castle (Google Maps location)
Admission: see website
Opening times: 10am-4pm daily (last admission 3pm)

22. Dartmoor Zoo, Plymouth

Beyond its furry residents, Dartmoor Zoo’s star appeal comes from the Hollywood film it inspired: “We Bought a Zoo” featuring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson.

raccoon at dartmoor zoo

The film chronicles former owner Benjamin Mee’s real-life adventure transforming the estate into a wildlife haven. These days Damon and Johansson may no longer roam here, but the magic remains under the Dartmoor Zoological Society’s stewardship.

While meandering the lush grounds, imagine the movie’s fictional tales unfolding around you! Then create your own memories by participating in VIP animal experiences like the feed-a-meerkat program or family-friendly Ranger Academy. Or simply enjoy a laidback day spotting exotic species that call this storybook zoo home.

Either way, the animals are ready for their closeups! Let Dartmoor Zoo roll out the red carpet for your wildest day out yet.

Dartmoor Zoo (Google Maps location)
Admission: see website
Opening times: 12pm-8pm daily (last admission 7pm)

List of UK Zoos by Size

  1. Whipsnade Zoo: 600 acres
  2. Flamingo Land: 375 acres
  3. Marwell Zoo: 140 acres
  4. Wild Place Project: 136 acres
  5. Chester Zoo: 130 acres
  6. Folly Farm Zoo: 120 acres
  7. Edinburgh Zoo: 92 acres
  8. Twycross Zoo: 80 acres
  9. Paignton Zoo: 80 acres
  10. Colchester Zoo: 60 acres
  11. Belfast Zoo: 55 acres
  12. Dudley Zoo and Castle: 40 acres
  13. Welsh Mountain Zoo: 37 acres
  14. Blackpool Zoo: 37 acres
  15. ZSL London Zoo: 36 acres
  16. Dartmoor Zoo: 33 acres

List of UK Safari Parks by Size

  1. Longleat Safari park 9000 acres
  2. Port Lympne Reserve: 600 acres
  3. Knowsley Safari Park: 494 acres
  4. Cotswold Wildlife Park: 160 acres
  5. Howletts Wild Animal Park: 90 acres
  6. Tilgate Nature Park: 17 acres

Zoos in England Map

If you’re ever wondering where’s the best zoo near me, take a look at this interactive map of all the best zoos in the UK and you’ll likely find one pretty close by!

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UK Best Zoos FAQs:

Below are the most commonly asked questions about zoos, safaris and wildlife parks in the UK:

What is the number 1 zoo in the UK?

Chester Zoo is often considered the best zoo in England and the UK. It is ranked in the list of top zoos in the world and is one of the largest British zoos, covering about 125 acres of land and hosting around 400 species of animals.

Where is the largest zoo in UK?

The biggest zoo in the UK is the ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. It is spread across 600 acres of panoramic scenery in Bedfordshire and has 227 diverse species of animals, comprising a total of 6,405 animals. The animals at Whipsnade Zoo live in huge enclosures and the zoo is known for its care for the animals.

Which is the biggest and best zoo in the UK?

The biggest zoo in the UK is the ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. It is situated close to Dunstable in Bedfordshire and spans 600 acres of beautiful panoramic scenery. The zoo was first opened in 1931 and now houses 227 diverse species that comprise a total of 6,405 animals.
As for the best zoo in the UK, it’s subjective and depends on individual preferences. Some of the top zoos in the UK include ZSL London Zoo, Chester Zoo, Longleat Safari Park, Bristol Zoo, and Belfast Zoo, among others.

Which is the best interactive zoo in the UK?

A number of zoos in the UK have received positive reviews from visitors, including the Sea Life Blackpool, and Shaldon Wildlife Trust in Devon, which is known for its focus on conservation and commitment to caring for rare and endangered animals.

What is the oldest zoo in the UK?

The oldest zoo in the UK is the Bristol Zoological Gardens, which opened back in 1836. The Bristol Zoological Society said that the 186-year-old site will close its doors in September, with all its animals set to move to a new location.

What is the most beautiful safari park in Britain?

Some of the most popular and well-regarded safari parks in Britain include Longleat Safari Park, Knowsley Safari, Woburn Safari Park, Whipsnade Zoo, and West Midland Safari Park, to name a few.

Which UK zoo is closing down?

The Bristol Zoo Gardens in Bristol, UK is closing down after 186 years of operation. It will close its doors on September 3rd 2023 and its animals will be moving to a new location.

What is the most visited wildlife attraction in the UK?

The most visited wildlife attraction in the UK is Paignton Zoo, with an average of 460,685 yearly visitors based on the last 3 years. The number of visits to zoos and wildlife attractions in England slightly increased in 2021 after a drop in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Conclusion: 22 of the Best Zoos in Britain

I hope this post has showcased some of the top zoos and wildlife parks across Britain worth visiting. From massive zoos like Chester and Whipsnade to smaller gems like Paignton and Cotswold, there are amazing animal attractions to suit all interests.

These zoos lead globally when it comes to natural habitats, conservation initiatives, and premium animal care. Just look at Howletts’ gorilla rehabilitation or ZSL London’s advanced enclosures. Visiting any of my recommended zoos supports critical conservation efforts too.

So if you’re looking to visit the best zoos in the UK for an unforgettable wildlife experience, I highly recommend adding Chester Zoo, ZSL Whipsnade, Longleat Safari Park, Paignton Zoo or the Cotswold Wildlife Park to your itinerary.