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Best zoos to visit with your grandchildren

26th August 2021

There are lots of special zoos across the UK that make a visit to them not only fun but educational as well. Zoos nowadays are excellent sanctuaries for endangered animals, and they work around the world to conserve wild animals and their habitats.

Zoos are great places for grandparents to take their grandchildren as it isn’t often that you can see majestic animals such as giraffes and elephants up-close as well as learn about their dietary requirements and other fascinating information. The attractions within zoos are usually accessible so visitors who suffer from mobility issues that need to use aids such as a stair lift or a mobility scooter can easily travel around the zoo.

In this guide you can find out about the best zoos you can visit with your grandchildren, what animals live there and how accessible the zoos are.

Best zoos to visit with your grandchildren in the UK

  • London Zoo
  • Chester Zoo
  • Paignton Zoo
  • Colchester Zoo
  • Marwell Zoo
  • Edinburgh Zoo

London Zoo

ZSL London Zoo is the oldest scientific zoo in the world and visitors will enjoy a wealth of history across the site. This includes the story of the bear cub, Winniepeg, who was the inspiration behind the Winnie the Pooh books by AA Milnes.

Whilst the zoos history is impressive, it is the animals that live here which are the main attractions and with over 750 species of animals, there are lots to see and learn about.

Alyson Long, the editor at World Travel Family, says that London Zoo is her favourite to visit: “Some of my happiest childhood memories are of visiting London Zoo riding high on my father's shoulders as a tiny tot. We still have the photos today of us standing outside the architectural marvel that was the elephant house.

“Zoos can be incredible resources and powers for good in the global conservation scene and it was quite possibly those early zoo visits that inspired me to study for a degree in Zoology. One of the first things I did on becoming a mum was to buy a family season ticket for London Zoo. We'd visit most weekends. Grandparents and children can spend precious time together in wonderful environments such as these, learning, relaxing, and having fun. Making those memories that will last a lifetime. We've visited zoos and wildlife parks all over the globe with our children, but London remains the best zoo I know and one I'm very proud to support.”

The vast majority of London Zoo is accessible as there is level access around the zoo so visitors can see the different exhibits. Some areas of the zoo such as the Land of Lions and Tiger Territory both have lifts, as well as ramped access, whilst the reptile house is fully accessible apart from a small section at the back of the exhibit where there are a few steps.

Animals you can see at London Zoo: Giraffes, Zebras, Hippos, Lions, Penguins, Gorillas, Tigers, Galapagos Tortoises, Crocodiles, Komodo Dragons.

READ MORE: What are the best outdoor attractions in England?

Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo is commonly ranked amongst the best zoos in the world and with more than 20,000 animals and around 128 acres of zoological gardens, there is plenty you can explore during a visit here.

On their website, Chester Zoo says: “We are the most visited zoo in the UK and a conservation and education charity committed to preventing extinction.”

On top of caring for all the animals at the zoo, there are lots of conservation projects which are run by Chester Zoo and during your visit you can find out about these and how you can get involved.

The zoo is accessible to visitors with mobility issues as the attraction offers free disabled parking, accessible toilets, accessible pathways and wheelchair and electric scooter hire. The zoo also offers free entry to any carers of disabled visitors.

Animals you can see at Chester Zoo: Andean Bear, Rhinos, Elephants, Orangutans, Cheetahs, Jaguars, Lions, Tigers, Flamingos.

READ MORE: Great accessible UK weekend breaks: Chester

Paignton Zoo

Paignton Zoo is home to over 2,500 different animals set in naturalistic indoor and outdoor exhibits and you need to spend at least three to four hours or ideally a whole day to see everything.

The zoo caters for all ages as there are adventure play areas dotted around the zoo as well as a peaceful nature trail if you are looking for a more relaxing activity during your visit.

Paignton Zoo is mobility-friendly as there are disabled toilet facilities, 29 parking spaces dedicated to visitors with a disabled parking permit or blue badge and wheelchair and scooter hire available for returnable deposits.

Animals you can see at Paignton Zoo:  Baboons, Tortoises, Lions, Rhinos, Orangutans, Crocodiles, Cheetahs, Gorillas, Black Howler Monkeys, Kangaroos and Zebras.

Colchester Zoo

Colchester Zoo is much smaller than the others on this list as it is set in 60 acres of land and is home to 200 species.

There are lots of different habitats within the zoo and these range from an African plain home to Giraffes and Zebras to the humid home where the resident Komodo Dragons live. The zoo is the perfect all-weather attraction as there are lots of undercover areas and there are a variety of food options which you can choose from.

Colchester Zoo caters for visitors with mobility difficulties as people can hire manual wheelchairs and mobility scooters at the entrance and there is a suggested easier route that avoids steeper hills which is marked with green arrows on the ground.

Animals you can see at Colchester Zoo: Aardvarks, Cheetahs, Chimpanzees, Elephants, Giraffes, Hyenas, Komodo Dragons, Mandrill, Wolves and Zebras.

Marwell Zoo

Marwell Zoo is another must-visit zoo if you want a day out with your grandchildren as it offers so many great attractions that will keep youngsters occupied for hours. The zoo, which is owned by the action-orientated charity Marwell Wildlife, is located in the Winchester countryside and is just three miles from the M3 in Hampshire.

At least four hours is the time the zoo recommends to allow yourself to explore the park. That should come as no surprise as it is 140-acres big, has five adventure playgrounds and more than 100 animals.

The zoo has a sustainable Tropical House where there are free-flying birds, a boardwalk that you can walk along for exceptional views of some of the zoo’s animals as well as daily talks and animal feeds. The adventure playgrounds are hugely popular with children and while they play you can take a well-deserved rest.

The zoo is accessible to visitors with mobility problems as the park has level access around its attractions, accessible toilets and there is accessible parking available.

Animals you can see at Marwell Zoo: Tigers, Snow Leopards, White Rhinos, Giraffes, Gibbons, Penguins and Zebras.

Edinburgh Zoo

Edinburgh Zoo is famous for being the only zoo in the UK that keeps Giant Pandas and the two playful animals called Tian Tian (Sweetie) and Yang Guang (Sunshine) have been a huge hit with visitors.

The zoo, which was opened in July 1913, is one of Scotland's most popular visitor attractions, with over 800,000 visitors a year. It is set in 82 acres of sloping parkland and is just three miles outside of the city centre.

The zoo is home to around 1,000 rare and endangered animals that you can see, but on top of this visitors can experience a busy programme of educational events and activities. This can range from keeper talks, feeding and meeting some of the animals.

If that’s not enough then there are play areas and a gift shop if you are looking for a souvenir to remember your day.

If you suffer from mobility issues, then there are lots of things in place at Edinburgh Zoo to make your visit as easy as possible. There are a limited number of disabled parking spaces at the zoo, there is an accessible route you can follow, wheelchairs to hire and even a mobility vehicle that you can use.

Animals you can see at Edinburgh Zoo: Giant Pandas, Koala, Giraffes, Penguins, Lions, Rhinos, Malayan Sun Bear and Zebras.

READ ALSO: Tips and advice for grandparents

Zoos are the perfect destination if you are looking to take your grandchildren on a day out and they will learn so much about the different animals they see and the above are just some of the best zoos you can visit in the UK. For more tips and blogs like these then head to our news section.

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.