The United Kingdom is home to a wide range of fantastic zoos, from sprawling wildlife parks to small, intimate collections. These top zoos offer visitors a chance to see and learn about some of the world’s most fascinating animals and support vital conservation efforts. Here, we take a closer look at the top 15 zoos in the United Kingdom.
- 1. Chester Zoo – 5/5
- 2. ZSL London Zoo, London – 4.5/5
- 3. Edinburgh Zoo – 4/5
- 4. Whipsnade Zoo – 4.5/5
- 5. Colchester Zoo – 4/5
- 6. Yorkshire Wildlife Park, South Yorkshire – 4/5 stars
- 7. Marwell Zoo, Hampshire – 4/5 stars
- 8. Bristol Zoo Gardens, Bristol – 3.5/5 stars
- 9. Paignton Zoo, Devon – 3.5/5 stars
- 10. Drusillas Park, East Sussex – 3.5/5 stars
- 11. Twycross Zoo, Leicestershire – 3.5/5 stars
- 12. Knowsley Safari Park, Merseyside – 3.5/5 stars
- 13. Newquay Zoo, Cornwall – 3/5 stars
- 14. Banham Zoo, Norfolk – 3/5 stars
- 15. Dudley Zoo, West Midlands – 3/5 stars
1. Chester Zoo – 5/5
Chester Zoo, located in Cheshire, stands out as a prominent wildlife sanctuary in the United Kingdom. Boasting an impressive 128 acres, it houses more than 35,000 animals, representing over 500 diverse species. Chester Zoo is statistically the most visited zoo in the UK. This extensive collection includes many endangered animals and exotic creatures, which have been thoughtfully accommodated within spacious, naturalistic enclosures.
As a globally recognized conservation facility, Chester Zoo actively participates in numerous breeding programs, making significant strides toward preserving the world’s vanishing biodiversity. Key highlights of this remarkable zoo are the Islands exhibit, which takes visitors on an immersive journey through Southeast Asian habitats, and the award-winning Madagascar zone, showcasing rare lemurs and other unique fauna.
Visitor experiences are enhanced by knowledgeable staff and interactive displays, offering a wealth of educational opportunities for both young and old. Furthermore, the zoo’s commitment to sustainability and eco-friendly practices contributes to its status as an exceptional wildlife destination. We consider Chester Zoo to be the best zoo in the UK taking care of some of the world’s rare and endangered animals.
2. ZSL London Zoo, London – 4.5/5
Nestled in the heart of the English capital, ZSL London Zoo has been enchanting visitors since 1828 and is considered the oldest zoo in the UK. As the world’s oldest scientific zoo, it holds a distinguished position in global conservation efforts. With over 650 species and 19,000 animals, this historic institution provides a fascinating glimpse into the planet’s vast array of amazing wildlife.
Key attractions include Tiger Territory, where visitors can observe Sumatran tigers up close, and the Gorilla Kingdom, which offers a verdant sanctuary for western lowland gorillas. Additionally, the popular Land of the Lions exhibit showcases the Asiatic lion, a critically endangered species native to India.
ZSL London Zoo places a strong emphasis on education and conservation. Engaging presentations, interactive displays, and keeper talks provide ample opportunities for visitors to learn about the animals and the zoo’s conservation initiatives. Although the zoo is somewhat smaller than others on this list, its rich history and dedication to wildlife preservation with endangered animals make it a must-visit destination.
3. Edinburgh Zoo – 4/5
Established in 1913, Edinburgh Zoo is a cherished institution in the Scottish capital. Set across 82 acres, this picturesque zoo is home to more than 1,000 animals, representing over 170 species. Notably, it is the only zoo in the UK to house giant pandas and koalas, making it a truly distinctive attraction.
The zoo’s innovative Budongo Trail exhibit transports visitors into the heart of an African rainforest, where they can observe chimpanzees in a state-of-the-art enclosure. The Penguin Rock exhibit is another standout attraction, featuring Europe’s largest outdoor penguin pool and three different penguin species. A great day out for any animal lover.
While Edinburgh Zoo may not be as large as some of its counterparts, it remains a firm favorite among visitors for its unique exhibits, charming grounds, and dedication to conservation. Educational resources and keeper talks provide ample opportunities for learning, making it an ideal destination for families and wildlife enthusiasts alike.
4. Whipsnade Zoo – 4.5/5
Whipsnade Zoo, located in Bedfordshire, is the UK’s largest zoo, covering an expansive 600 acres of beautiful countryside. With over 3,500 animals representing more than 200 species, this exceptional zoo offers a captivating wildlife experience like no other.
Visitors can marvel at majestic elephants in the Centre for Elephant Care, observe endangered Amur tigers in their spacious enclosure, and spot roaming herds of deer and antelope in the picturesque reserve. The zoo also features a fascinating Birds of the World exhibit, showcasing a stunning array of avian species from across the globe. For those of you looking to see african lions or brown bears well you are in luck at Whipsnade zoo.
The zoo’s commitment to conservation and environmental sustainability is evident through its participation in breeding programs and global conservation projects. Whipsnade Zoo’s size, unique animal collection, and educational opportunities make it a top-rated destination for wildlife enthusiasts of all ages.
5. Colchester Zoo – 4/5
Colchester Zoo, based in Essex, is a beloved wildlife haven spanning across 60 acres. Home to over 270 species and 10,000 individual animals, this popular zoo offers a diverse array of exhibits and animal encounters.
Highlights encompass the immersive Orangutan Forest, the Edge of Africa exhibit, which showcases African wildlife, and the Australian Rainbows exhibit, where visitors can walk among vibrant rainbow lorikeets. Colchester Zoo is also dedicated to animal conservation and participates in global breeding programs, ensuring the preservation of threatened species.
The zoo offers a range of interactive experiences, keeper talks, and educational resources to engage visitors of all ages. With its dedication to animal welfare, conservation, and education, Colchester Zoo is a must-visit destination for wildlife lovers.
6. Yorkshire Wildlife Park, South Yorkshire – 4/5 stars
Yorkshire Wildlife Park, situated in South Yorkshire, offers a unique wildlife experience, emphasizing its commitment to conservation, education, and animal welfare. Spanning 150 acres, this impressive park is home to over 400 animals from 70 different species, many of which are endangered or threatened.
The park’s highlights include the Land of the Tigers exhibit, where visitors can observe the rare Amur tigers, and the innovative Leopard Heights, an elevated walkway offering unparalleled views of the Amur leopards. Another standout feature is Project Polar, a specially designed natural habitat for polar bears, which focuses on their conservation and welfare.
Yorkshire Wildlife Park offers a range of educational opportunities, such as keeper talks, interactive displays, and workshops. Its dedication to animal welfare, conservation, and education makes it an exceptional wildlife destination for visitors of all ages.
7. Marwell Zoo, Hampshire – 4/5 stars
Nestled in the heart of the Hampshire countryside, Marwell Zoo spans 140 acres and is home to over 170 species and 1,200 animals. This picturesque zoo is dedicated to conservation, education, and providing a fantastic visitor experience.
Notable exhibits include the Energy for Life Tropical House, which showcases a variety of exotic animals and species in a climate-controlled environment, and the impressive African Valley, where visitors can spot giraffes, zebras, snow leopards, and rhinos. The zoo’s commitment to animal welfare and conservation is evident through its involvement in global projects and breeding programs.
Marwell Zoo offers a range of educational opportunities, including interactive displays, keeper talks, and workshops. The zoo’s stunning grounds and commitment to conservation make it an ideal destination for families and wildlife enthusiasts.
8. Bristol Zoo Gardens, Bristol – 3.5/5 stars
Founded in 1836, Bristol Zoo Gardens ranks as the fifth oldest zoo in the world. This compact, 12-acre facility is home to a wide variety of animals, including over 400 species and 7,000 individual creatures. Despite its relatively small size, Bristol Zoo Gardens offers a rich and memorable wildlife experience.
Visitors can explore the lush Seal and Penguin Coast, the immersive Gorilla Island, and the enchanting Twilight World, which showcases nocturnal animals in a unique, low-light environment. The zoo’s dedication to conservation is evident through its participation in breeding programs and involvement in global wildlife projects.
With a focus on education and sustainability, Bristol Zoo Gardens provides a wealth of learning opportunities for visitors through interactive exhibits, keeper talks, and informative displays. This historic zoo is a delightful destination for families and wildlife enthusiasts alike.
9. Paignton Zoo, Devon – 3.5/5 stars
Located in the beautiful Devon countryside, Paignton Zoo covers 80 acres and houses over 2,000 animals from 300 species. This popular zoo combines immersive natural habitats with lush botanical gardens, creating a serene and captivating environment for visitors to explore.
Paignton Zoo is known for its standout exhibits, such as the Crocodile Swamp, home to multiple reptile species, and the Ape Centre, which features Bornean orangutans, agile gibbons, and howler monkeys. The immersive Forest Habitat, showcasing a diverse range of incredible animals, including red pandas and Asian short-clawed otters, is another visitor favorite.
The zoo’s dedication to conservation is evident in its participation in international breeding programs and its focus on educating visitors about the importance of preserving wildlife. With a variety of keeper talks, interactive displays, and educational resources, Paignton Zoo offers a rewarding experience for visitors of all ages.
10. Drusillas Park, East Sussex – 3.5/5 stars
Drusillas Park, nestled in East Sussex, is a small but highly regarded zoo, that combines unique animal exhibits with family-friendly attractions. Home to over 100 different animal species, this charming zoo offers a delightful experience for visitors of all ages.
Highlights of Drusillas Park include the popular Lemurland, a walkthrough exhibit where visitors can get up close and personal with playful lemurs, and the Penguin Plunge, which showcases the zoo’s lively colony of Humboldt penguins. Another attraction at the adventure park is the Lory Landing, where guests can feed beautiful rainbow lorikeets.
Drusillas Park’s commitment to conservation is reflected in its participation in international breeding programs and its dedication to educating visitors about wildlife preservation. The zoo provides various keeper talks, interactive displays, and educational resources, ensuring a fun and informative experience for all.
11. Twycross Zoo, Leicestershire – 3.5/5 stars
Located in Leicestershire, Twycross Zoo is renowned for housing the most extensive collection of monkeys and apes in the UK. This 80-acre zoo is home to over 500 animals, representing more than 125 different species.
Standout exhibits at Twycross Zoo include the immersive Chimpanzee Eden, which provides a naturalistic environment for the zoo’s chimpanzee group, and the stunning Gibbon Forest, where visitors can observe various gibbon species swinging through the trees. The zoo also features an impressive penguin exhibit, offering guests an underwater viewing experience.
Twycross Zoo’s dedication to conservation is evident in its involvement in global breeding programs and wildlife projects. A variety of keeper talks, interactive displays, and educational resources ensure an engaging and informative experience for visitors of all ages.
12. Knowsley Safari Park, Merseyside – 3.5/5 stars
Knowsley Safari Park is located in Merseyside, is a unique wildlife experience, offering visitors the opportunity to embark on a thrilling safari drive through the 550-acre park. Home to over 700 animals from more than 100 species, Knowsley Safari provides a truly immersive experience as visitors encounter a variety of wildlife up close.
The safari drive takes visitors through various zones of the wild animal park, each showcasing different animals, such as the African Savannah, home to giraffes, zebras, and ostriches, and the Carnivore Territory, where visitors can spot lions, tigers, and Iberian wolves. In addition to the safari drive, the park features a walk-through area with a range of incredible animals, including meerkats, bush dogs, and capybaras.
Knowsley Safari park’s focuses on education, conservation, and animal welfare make it an engaging and informative experience for wildlife enthusiasts. Through interactive displays, keeper talks, and educational resources, visitors can learn about the importance of preserving our planet’s wildlife and habitats.
13. Newquay Zoo, Cornwall – 3/5 stars
Set on 13 acres of lush Cornish countryside, Newquay Zoo is home to over 1,000 animals, representing more than 130 different species. This charming zoo is committed to conservation, education, and providing a memorable visitor experience.
Newquay Zoo features several standout exhibits, including the Gems of the Jungle exhibit, where visitors can witness vibrant birds flying freely in a spacious walkthrough aviary, and the immersive African Savanna exhibit, which showcases a variety of African wildlife some of which are rare and endangered animals. The zoo’s dedication to conservation is evident through its involvement in global breeding programs and wildlife projects.
With a variety of keeper talks, interactive displays, and educational resources, Newquay Zoo offers an engaging and rewarding experience for visitors of all ages.
14. Banham Zoo, Norfolk – 3/5 stars
Banham Zoo, set in the beautiful Norfolk countryside, is a 50-acre wildlife park that houses over 2,000 animals from around 200 species. This delightful zoo offers a diverse array of exhibits, providing an enjoyable experience for wildlife enthusiasts and families alike.
Key attractions include the fascinating Birds of Paradise exhibit, where visitors can observe an array of colorful and exotic bird species, and the impressive enclosure for the critically endangered Amur leopard. Banham Zoo is committed to conservation and participates in global breeding programs to help preserve threatened species.
15. Dudley Zoo, West Midlands – 3/5 stars
Located in the West Midlands, Dudley Zoo is a 40-acre facility that houses over 1,000 animals from more than 200 species. This historic zoo, which opened in 1937, features a combination of original and modern enclosures, offering a unique visitor experience.
Dudley Zoo’s highlights include the impressive Castle Creatures exhibit, which showcases various reptile species within the ruins of an 11th-century castle, and the Lemur Wood, where visitors can walk among free-roaming lemurs and be able to see snow leopards.
The United Kingdom boasts a variety of exceptional zoos, each offering unique experiences, captivating exhibits, and a shared commitment to conservation and education. Whether you are a casual visitor or a dedicated wildlife enthusiast, these top 15 zoos in the UK provide unforgettable encounters with the world’s most extraordinary creatures.