We are regular visitors to ZSL London Zoo and always see signs for their sister zoo, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo whilst we are there, but have never visited before now.
ZSL Whipsnade is the UK’s largest zoo and one of Europe’s largest wildlife conservation parks and home to a staggering 3,873 animals, many of which are endangered in the wild.
Although farther mileage wise from us in Bournemouth, it actually took the same amount of time to get there, thanks to easy motorway access and we arrived just in time for opening.
There are two options to consider when you enter ZSL Whipsnade Zoo:
- Park in the free car park and walk
- Pay extra to drive into the zoo and park in specified areas around the zoo
Although you can drive into the zoo for an additional charge, it is worth noting that it is not a safari park and you cannot drive through enclosures.
We opted for the free parking option and made the short five-minute walk from the carpark to the entrance to the zoo, which is easily accessible for those with buggies or prams and because we printed our tickets at home, were inside the zoo almost immediately.
Whipsnade is very different from London Zoo. It covers 600 acres of countryside, so be prepared to do some serious walking, or catch their snazzy bright green bus to take you to the next enclosure in comfort and style.
Of course, being bigger it means that they can house some much larger animals in massive enclosures which are as close to them being in the wild as possible.
It also means there is plenty of room for the kids to run around, play and pretend to be their favourite creatures.
What strikes you as you walk through Whipsnade Zoo, is how invested they are in the conservation of the animals that they look after.
One of their long-standing success stories is the Cheetah’s and 130 cubs have been born and reared at the zoo in the last 40 years.
For those that love to see the younger members of the zoo, their Amur Tigeress, Naya, gave birth to four cute cubs back in June and they are starting to come out and enjoy their enclosure with Mum.
One thing that really surprised us is that they let wallabies and mara’s roam free and we couldn’t quite believe it when we first saw them just watching us from a few feet away.
I recommend that you take a ride on their Jumbo Express for a brilliant safari adventure where you can see elephants, rhinos, yaks, bears and camels and all with an informative commentary.
The Jumbo Express does cost extra (£4.50 per adult and £2.00 per child), so it is worth factoring in this cost when planning your day.
Behind Whipsnade Station, there is a huge children’s play area with play equipment to suit all ages called Hullabazoo. This area also contains an indoor play area designed around different animal habitats and a children’s interactive farm, where little ones will be able to meet and greet a whole host of farmyard friends.
This summer, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo are hosting a Superhero Takeover, with a self-guided Superpowers Trail around the Zoo, discovering real life animals with heroic superskills.
Captain Z is also recruiting all superheroes into the Superhero Academy to teach them the powers of the animals, in a specialised Super Hero HQ at the heart of the zoo.
Firstly we had to come up with our very own superhero names and make our masks.
We then collected our mission packs and learned about amazing animal super powers by completing exciting animal activities.
- Learn all-important night vision skills from the nocturnal owl – using special goggles to spot potential food in its woodland home.
- Unlock the power of super speed, racing against the world’s fastest land animal, the cheetah.
- Master the leafcutter ant’s super strength in time to lift a three tonne taxi safely out-of-the-way.
- Climb like the incredible gecko, mastering the toughest skill yet – defying gravity to crawl across the bedroom ceiling.
After graduating from Superhero Academy the kids then had to use all their new super skills to help Captain Z tackle The Maze – a tricky series of obstacles and challenges made by his arch nemesis Plastico.
It was a real eye-opener learning all about plastic pollution and the kids all came away inspired to reduce their use of plastics in day-to-day life.
Whipsnade Zoo is a fun-filled day out for all the family, with keeper talks and shows throughout the day where you can learn lots of fun facts about the zoo’s residents.
We were there from opening time, until close as there is so much to do and I am still not sure we saw it all.
We took a picnic to save money, but there are five cafe / restaurants to choose from, serving a range of hot and cold foods. My only grumble of the day was that you could not buy drinks at the Base Camp restaurant as they were only offering table service, however we were able to buy a coffee at Hullabazoo a short 5 minute walk away.
Entry costs from £22.70 for adults and £16.60 for children with a family ticket costing £70.50 (2 Adults + 2 Children) online only.
Disclaimer: We were invited to Whipsnade Zoo for the purpose of a review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.