During April we were invited to try a Stay, Play and Explore short break in Leicestershire.
For just £149 (£159 during bank holiday weekends) a family of 2 adults and 2 children can visit any 3 out of 10 exciting attractions and enjoy overnight accommodation including breakfast at a choice of 4 star family friendly hotels and for larger families like ours you can buy an additional child ticket for £20.
The attractions included are National Space Centre, Conkers, Twycross Zoo, Twinlakes Theme Park, Stonehurst Family Farm, Swadlincote Ski Centre, Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre, Bosworth Water Park and King Richard III Visitor Centre.
We were keen to explore places that we have not been before so decided upon a visit to Twycross zoo, home to the largest collection of monkeys and apes in the Western World and more excitingly for us, it is also the home to a herd of elephants.
Twycross zoo isn’t the largest zoo we have visited, but it is perfectly formed with exciting trails to follow, hidden delights and more than enough to see and do for a full day out.
Despite being home to many apes and monkey’s there are plenty of other animals to see, including big cats, giraffes, elephants, birds and a petting area to meet friendly farm animals.
The Amur Leopards are one of the first animals we came across and we were excited to see them running around and playing. One even jumped up at the glass window, much to the kids excitement, but it was a really sobering moment when we discovered that they are the most endangered big cats with just 30 – 35 left in the wild.
Information about the animals is something that Twycross Zoo do brilliantly. There is signage all over the enclosures with interesting facts about the animals and a scale which shows the danger of extinction levels.
We managed to time our visit to each enclosure perfectly to coincide with the keeper talks which were fun and informative. The elephants didn’t seem bothered about being the centre of attention, but the giraffe’s played up for the camera, enjoying a bit of play fighting.
It was the apes where we learned the most though, despite visiting our local Monkey World regularly. We discovered that apes are divided into two groups; great apes, which include gorillas, chimpanzees, orang utans, bonobos and humans; and small apes, which are gibbons and siamangs.
There was one gorilla who was enjoying himself a little too much *cough* and another who did his best catalogue pose for us. Twycross Zoo opened its new Gibbon Forest last year, which is a huge 4000 square metre enclosure which was very impressive, although all the gibbons appeared to in hiding for us.
From the moment we arrived, Eliza was desperate to visit the butterfly enclosure and we found it just behind Gibbon forest. We were treated to watching not one, but two butterflies emerging from their chrysalis’ and then I had one settle on my shoulder and hubby has one attracted to his phone – maybe it wanted a selfie?
By now it was time to stop for lunch. Twycross Zoo has The Fish Bar, serving fish and chips, The Vine restaurant and The View restaurant serving home cooked hot dishes, Costa Coffee and a range of house toasties on ciabatta and focaccia breads.
I have to admit that I wish we had gone back to the Fish Bar as we chose the kids lunch box option where you choose five items for £4.95, only there were only three to choose from. This was the only downside of an otherwise brilliant day and we were advised it was because they were waiting for a delivery. Not that the kids were bothered – they wolfed their food down and headed out to the park and petting area.
Last time we visited a zoo, Isaac and Eliza were too nervous to feed the Lorikeets, but on this visit they decided to give it a go and although the birds didn’t sit on their hands, they bravely managed to feed them some nectar.
Our final animals of the day were to find the Zebra, which had been hiding earlier and the elusive Snow Leopard.
I would highly recommend a visit to Twycross Zoo. There is plenty to do come rain or shine as they also have a large Jungle Soft Play area if the weather turns, although there is an additional charge to use it.
Disclaimer: We were guests of Visit Leicester and received a Stay, Play, Explore break for the purpose of a review.