What child doesn’t love a trip to the zoo?
When researching fun activities for all the family during our trip to Devon I came across Paignton Zoo and added it to my list of activities for the kids to choose where they wanted to visit. Of course when it was time to choose it was the place they picked first, so we packed up the car and took the 20 minute drive from our campsite.
If I am honest, we are used to going to Marwell Wildlife Park and Longleat both which are huge so I didn’t have high hopes for Paignton Zoo. I expected it to be small and half a days activity at best – I couldn’t have been more wrong!
Paignton Zoo has more animals than anyone else in the South West and you the opportunity to get close to over two thousand creatures including giraffes, lions, gorillas, an elephant, cheetahs, crocodiles, meerkats, colourful snakes, monkeys and more!
We arrived just before the zoo opened at 10am and I instantly regretted not packing coats as it was freezing. There were also high winds which were not helping and once inside we didn’t get off to the best start as most of the animals were sheltering from the winds, but we did spot some birds in the aviary including a pigeon that looked as though it was wearing a super-hero mask.
We also spotted some owls but sadly as they were behind wire my pictures didn’t catch them very well. The disappointment for not seeing the big cats was soon gone as the kids discovered the park and it gave them a chance to run around and warm up and as we headed back out, we found that the warming sunshine had awoken the tigers at least, whilst the lions just snoozed.
Next up was the Lemur walk, but they were more content hiding in their house so the kids decided pounding up and down the rope bridge was much more fun.
Once we convinced them to leave the rope bridge we headed back outside to witness something magical – two Orangutans with their babies. We stopped to watch them for about 15 minutes as the keepers had laid out their food all over their enclosure so we could all get a good look.
The orangutans changed our luck with the animals and from here on in, they all came out to see us.
The zoo is quite hilly and on our way to find the giraffe and elephants you reach a point where you look down onto the sea below – it is a stunning view. There are lots of houses on the hill above and they must get some lovely views of the animals as well as the sea.
One of the things we loved about the zoo, apart from the huge variety of animals, were the extra activities for the children. Most animals had a plaque on their enclosure teaching children how to sign their names and Isaac’s favourite one was a mirror where he had to mimic the faces a macquac was pulling.
The zoo really is bigger than it looks and there are maps everywhere so you can see where you are and if you have missed any bits. We had assumed we had seen most of it by now, but were only about half way round by this point.
Next was a small petting area where we were greeted by a beautiful peacock and some rather peckish goats who seemed rather fond of nibbling my cardigan. The staff in this area were lovely and were chatting to the kids about what animals they had seen and recommending which path to take next whilst they got to cuddle a guinea pig.
The zoo has six habitats – Desert, Savannah, Primley, Tropics, Forest and Wetland to explore and we soon found the bugs. The house where they were kept was fantastic with large glass cages and lots of information about the animals as well as medicines that their venom is used to make.
Little legs were starting to tire now so we stopped for a bite to eat and a rest. There are plenty of picnic areas with tables to sit with a picnic or there is a restaurant and lots of little refreshment stalls where you can buy food and drink.
Named after the home of their founder, Herbert Whitley, our next stop was Primley which is home to the baboon troop, giant tortoises, snowy owls, crocodiles and pythons and we were excited to see a Crocodile who was ferociously guarding her eggs, alhtough Sebastian was more interested in watching the fish swim around.
There are also indoor play areas and the Jungle Express train to visit but we decided on an ice cream pitstop before heading back to visit the animals that had been hiding earlier in the day.
Paignton Zoo exceeded my expectations and really is a fabulous family day out and somewhere where you could happily stay all day. We didn’t catch any of the keeper talks this time but intend to go back for another visit very soon.
As we came out of the zoo we walked past the flamingos to witness a “handbags at dawn” exhange. Just wish I’d filmed it!
A family ticket for Paignton Zoo costs a very reasonable £47.20 and if we were closer I would certainly consider buying annual membership as there is so much to do.
Disclaimer: I was given a family ticket to for the purpose of a review. All opinions are our own.