AD – Tickets for ZSL Whipsnade Zoo were gifted to us in exchange for this post. All thoughts are my own.
I’ve been visiting zoos for as long as I can remember. My parents used to take me as a child and I’ve continued to visit them with friends and partners as an adult. It doesn’t matter what zoo I’m in, I always have a thoroughly enjoyable day. I know zoos can get a bad rep sometimes but I’m always wary about which zoo I visit and luckily, the zoos within reachable distance of me and all superb.
I’ve visited ZSL Whipsnade Zoo – the sister of London Zoo – a few times in the past so I think this was around my 4th visit here. I was pleased to see a new addition in the aquarium, as well as some old favourites still going strong! It’s worth noting that this is a BIG zoo. As in, it’s so big that they give you the option to drive around it. Which we did. If you’re looking for more Family Friendly days out, I’d highly recommend checking out Outdoorsy Days for activities, reviews, tips and hacks!
There’s a road around the zoo, as well as walking paths, a suitable distance away from the enclosures, with plenty of spaces to park is designated areas around the zoo. This certainly gives your feet a bit of respite as even if you do decide to drive around (for an additional cost of £25), you’ll still be on your feet quite a bit.
As with most zoos, this one is split into sections, based on countries from where the animals within that section are from. So we hopped in the car and started with…
This is the first section you’ll see when driving, as I do believe it’s a one way system for cars. Within Europe, you’ll find the likes of brown bears, penguins, wild boar, wolverines and reindeer as well as the ZSL Whipsnade Lookout Lodges, which you can do an overnight stay in! I’d absolutely love to do that one day.
Sadly we didn’t see the brown bears that much as they were right at the back of the enclosure. We did see everything else in this section however. The caught the wolverines having a play at just the right time, with this funny guy doing roly-poly’s off the log. And there were plenty of penguins to see who looked almost as cold as we were!
Now round to Africa, the next section of the road. Here you’ll see giraffes, white rhinos, hunting dogs, lions, meerkats, zebras, cheetahs and hippos. We didn’t actually manage to see any of the big cats on our visit, which was disappointing but like I said, it was VERY cold, so perhaps they were inside.
We spent a while in the giraffe enclosure, watching the baby giraffe follow (what I assume was) his Mum everywhere. We also spent quite a long time in the hippo enclosure. Partially because it was warm and partially because Hodor, the young hippo was up to a lot of mischief, trying to play and splash around with Mum.
Round to Asia now where you’ll see tigers, camels, Asian rhinos, sloth bears Asian elephants, yaks and an array of deer. They have a neat little passage through Asia, which is like the “safari” section of the zoo, with an abundance of deer roaming freely. We didn’t actually see a lot during this section, apart from the elephants but sadly they were too far away to photograph. It was nice to see the updated elephant enclosure.
Base camp is the middle of the zoo and here you’ll see otters, red pandas, sea lions, chimpanzees and lemurs. Again, we didn’t see an awful lot here. In fact, we accidentally missed out the red pandas and otters altogether (told you it was big!). We did pop to see the sea lions briefly. We did notice that their enclosure was a little worse for wear – mostly on the outside. It could certainly do with a lick of paint.
In fact, in the spirit of being a good blogger and being totally honest, with how modernized most places are now, even zoos, with their state of the art enclosures, I do feel like Whipsnade is perhaps getting left in the past a little. Although their enclosures for most animals are absolutely HUGE, which is always a good thing, the buildings perhaps could do with a little TLC. Especially as they’ve got a beautiful visitor center and gift shop.
Aquarium and Butterfly House
The aquarium is a new addition to Whipsnade and I loved it! Although small (like, don’t expect London Aquarium here), it was fascinating to read about and see some species of fish which are actually extinct in the wild. I didn’t get any photos in here because it’s notoriously hard to take photos of things in a dark room, behind glass, without a flash!
Onto my favourite part of the whole day… the butterfly house. The butterfly house is home to free flying moths and butterflies. It has a small path and is mostly bushes and trees, to mimic their environment. It’s also VERY HOT in there. I had sweat dripping down my back type hot. You’ll see my photos are slightly blurred because the lens on my camera was steaming up!
But Carl and I spent ages in there because it was so peaceful. With the wind blowing outside, the condensation dripping on your head and the sweltering heat, you really do feel like you’re in a rain forest, with all these beautiful, bright and vibrant butterflies swooping around! You’ll also find an array of insects – including a bird eating spider!
And finally, another favourite part for me is the farm. If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I love goats. Love em. Don’t know why. I just do. So obviously I love the farm section, especially the walk through goat enclosure – which Carl felt very uncomfortable in and wanted to get out of ASAP!
There’s also rabbits, donkeys, sheep, chickens, cows – all the usual things you’d find on a farm in this section!
If you’re heading to Whipsnade Zoo, make sure you use your time wisely. Especially if there’s certain talks or displays you want to see because if you’re over one side of the zoo and what you want to listen to is over the other side, unless you’re The Flash, you’re not making it! Whipsnade is a fantastic zoo with so much to see and do. Expect a whole day out and wear comfy shoes!