ZSL Whipsnade zoo is HUGE and makes for a roaring day out! The zoo is in Dunstable in Bedfordshire but you will easily spend the whole day here, so it is definitely worth the one hour journey to get here. Try to arrive as early as you can to make the most of it.
First thing, ZSL Whipsnade is HUGE and there is a LOT of walking involved. We walked about 4 miles and were pretty knackered by the end. Bikes and cycles are not allowed but scooties are, so bring your scooters and buggies and have water and snacks handy. Micro-trikes are available to hire. Another option is to buy Whipsnade Zoo Car Entry. It costs 25 pounds/car in peak season and 12£ in winters. It is NOT a safari but the advantage is you can drive your car into the zoo and park at different points closer to different “continents”. You then get out of the car and walk to the animal enclosures. It is not cheap but you won’t be walking as much, however, I think you also won’t see as much as on foot, but its an option worth considering. Also, most of the zoo is in the open air, so choose the right gear if the weather forecast is not good. Even if the weather forecast is ok, remember that the zoo is located on top of a hill and it can get windy and slightly cooler, so be prepared for little children.
Another TOP TIP is to Target and plan what you want to see FIRST and route accordingly. The park is divided into three main areas: Europe, Asia and Africa (MAP HERE) and as we walked from one area to another, we talked about what animals to expect in each area (I had my home educating cap on ;). We started from Europe, as I thought we will just circle around, but if I was to do it again, I will go Africa and Asia first, as Ay was tired with all the walking and in the end was not really interested in looking for animals.
Another highlight of our trip was the Jumbo Express steam engine. You have to pay extra (4.5£ adult, 2£ child) and it had long queues but the kids and adults alike loved the whistle and steam and everyone waving excitedly as the train passed by. We waited about 15 minutes, but the queue moved quite quickly. There is ice cream in the station or a portable van right in front of it. I would suggest getting an ice cream as you are queuing so the children are busy when queuing. The train journey lasts about 15 minutes and is a nice break from the walking. You can watch some animals from Asia and Africa outpost on the “train safari” like the elephants and camels which may not have seen otherwise.
Whipsnade and London Zoo is one of over 200 attractions around the UK that Blue Peter badge holders can visit for free. So if you don’t have one yet, get one for your children. I am about to right a post on it, so watch this space.
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Now back to the Zoo. Apparently it is the largest zoo in the UK. From a herd of Asian elephants to 30 different species of butterflies, they have over 10,000 animals at Whipsnade Zoo.
As I said, the zoo is enormous and for that reason, the animals have a lot of open space around (which is great). Some may be hiding despite you watching out hard for them (e.g. the bear was no where to be seen and same for the Cheetahs). Other animals are free to roam around. A wallaby crossed in front of us and I couldn’t believe it. The Lemurs were also jumping from one fence to another right in front of us in the Lemur walkthroughenclosure, which was so cool.
One of our main highlight was the baby Giraffe and how his mum cuddled him. At one point, three of them stood in a line in ascending height order, which was super cute. They have a custom built enclosure where they come inside to munch on food or to rest. The enclosure also offers a high level viewing platform so you can get closer (eye to eye) to these amazing creatures. There is also a giraffe length chart where you can compare your height to theirs. Ay couldn’t believe he is half his leg. I just about made it to the top of the leg.
The tigers were sleeping and the Lion was sitting so still, Ay thought he was a statue.
You may have seen many Penguins in different zoos but I had never seen a rockhopper penguin colony before. They are one of the world’s smallest penguins, reaching 50 cm tall, but they have big personalities, give loud cries (also called jackass penguins) and have long beautiful spiky yellow and black crests on their head to attract a mate. A few of them were sitting on eggs in their nests. We were told they mate for life and Parents take turn looking after the egg, both not being afraid to peck at anything that strays too close. Due to their rocky habitat, rockhoppers can’t slide on their bellies to get around. Instead, these penguins hop to get around, hence the name!
You can also watch the birds swoop above your head in this amazing free-flying “birds of the world” demonstration in the open air auditorium. This demonstration usually takes place mid day and is dependant on weather – please check our talks board at the main entrance on arrival. They also do daily animal talks. Here is a sample but please check the ‘What’s On’ boards when you arrive for accurate timings and additional pop-up talks throughout the day.
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We really enjoyed the Butterfly House, as hundred of them were flying freely and some even landing on kids. It was hot but unlike other such places we have been to, this was not too humid (which was great). From the looks of things, a reptile enclosure is coming soon too. Dont forget to spot the chameleons as they change colour for camouflage and the sting ray in the aquarium. There are also a couple of African dwarf crocodiles in here. Every one thought chuckled when Ay loudly exclaimed “OMG This is the biggest Chameleon I have ever seen :D. I think its time to take him to Crocodiles of the world!
Hullabazoo is a themed outdoor play area, which has anything and everything and much more that you could hope for, including amazing climbing frames, bridges, swings, slides, tunnels, boats, mini safari jeep, sand play, zipwire, rockers, climbing pyramid, variety of sensory equipment and roundabout. I am pretty sure I have not named everything. There is also Hullabazoo indoor play, which we did not get a chance to get to, but needs to be prebooked online. Hullabazoo Farm is an interactive, up-close adventure, where little ones will be able to meet and greet a whole host of farmyard friends.
There was Zoorasic Park running when we went initially in 2021. There were life-like, several species of animatronic dinosaurs which look almost real (my son actually asked me if they were) as they moved and roared. The enclosure is so creative making the whole atmosphere just Dino-tastic. You can watch OUR VIDEO ON INSTAGRAM BY CLICKING HERE. I hope they bring it back but needless to say they do special events throughout the season, so worth keeping an eye out for.
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🗺 Address: Marsworth Rd, Pitstone, Leighton Buzzard LU7 9AP
📅 Different activities continue throughout the season (please see WEBSITE for more details)
🎟 Entry fee applies. Peak Adults £30 (off peak £25.91), Peak Children: 3-15 years £19.50 (off peak 16.81@), Under 3s: Free. Please see WEBSITE for updated prices.
Blue Peter Badge holders go free. One full paying adult will be required for each qualifying child and the adult ticket must be purchased upon arrival at the Zoo.
🚘There are two options: You may park in the external car park for free or you may drive into the Zoo and park in specified areas around the Zoo (by paying 25 pounds/car in peak season and 12£ in winters)
🚻 Toilets on site
🍕 Refreshments all around the zoo
🧺 Picnic allowed
🐕 Dogs not allowed
You can even book a stay at their Lookout lodge or book special experiences like