Skip to content

Must Visit These Best Zoo in the UK


The United Kingdom is full of picturesque, gorgeous locations to visit with your family and friends. Whether you like Victorian architecture, prefer park picnics or enjoy the nightlife, the UK doesn’t disappoint. However, when with kids, you cannot go wrong with a zoo trip. Adults and children enjoy zoo trips alike, making them the perfect plan for a day out with family. So, if you are looking for the best zoo in UK, we have got you covered.

This article brings you a list of the most popular and largest zoos in UK. Check the details and choose your favorites!

18 Best Zoos in UK

Zoos in the UK are perfect for children to experience animals living in their natural habitats. They can see wildlife in their natural habitats and enjoy their time in the play area. With so many choices, selecting one best zoo in UK is difficult. So, we have picked the 18 most famous zoos for you.

Some top zoo in UK include London Zoo, Edinburgh Zoo, Dublin Zoo, and Chester Zoo. Furthermore, you can also enjoy a safari experience at Longleat Safari and Port Lympne Reserve. These locations contribute to the conservation and welfare of animals before they are returned to the wild. At the same time, visiting Dudley Zoo and Castle and Bird World are unique experiences you would not want to miss.

We have shared below highlights of the most popular zoos, so you can cut them above the rest.

Edinburgh Zoo, Edinburgh

When you ask anyone about the best zoo in UK, Edinburgh is a must-mention!

Edinburgh Zoo is a favorite attraction among tourists and locals as it houses animals most adored by kids. Two giant pandas, Tian Tian and Yang Guang, came to the zoo in 2011. Tourists in Edinburgh, especially children, visit the zoo to see the pandas. The zoo also has the UK’s only koala bear from Queensland.


The zoo, spread over 80 acres, is home to 1,000 animals. They include Sumatran tigers, sun bears, lions, Indian rhinos, hippos, monkeys, chimpanzees, and many others. Moreover, you can walk along wallabies and see the baby chimpanzee at the Budongo Trail.

Edinburgh Zoo is home to over 2,500 endangered and rare animals. It is also known for having the world’s only knighted penguin. The Norwegian king knighted the penguin Sir Nils Olav in 2008.

Children can enjoy various exciting activities and educational events in the zoo. The Edinburgh Zoo also has play areas, dining spaces, and a gift shop to buy souvenirs.

London Zoo, London

You ask Londoners, and most of them will mention that the London Zoo at Regent’s Park is the best zoo in UK. London Zoo is among the oldest zoos in the UK, established in 1828. In fact, it is one of the oldest zoos globally. ZSL, a charity known for its devotion to ongoing wildlife conservation work, operates this zoo in the heart of the busy city.

Spanning over 36 acres, the London Zoo was initially a research area for scientists. Around half a century later, in 1874, the London Zoo started welcoming tourists. Visitors can see more than 19,000 animals of over 650 species at the zoo. The London Zoo has gorillas, meerkats, lions, tigers, lemurs, hippos, giraffes, pandas, and much more. The Tiny Giants section exhibiting the smallest insects and the walk-through spider exhibits are a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The zoo also has an aquarium, pools with penguins, and a silent disco in the summer. Moreover, kids can feed penguins, lions, and llamas; they’ll love it, especially if it’s their first time. Furthermore, children can join the junior zoo academy to learn more about animals and zoos.

If you wonder, “How can you see all of it in one day?” you’re not the only one. Many people think the same and book cabins around the zoo with tours and meals.

Chester Zoo, Cheshire

Besides London Zoo, Chester Zoo in Cheshire is another famous zoo; it is not only a favorite among locals but ranks among the top zoos in the world. If your children want to see the biggest zoo in UK, you must consider Chester Zoo.

Chester Zoo spans over 125 acres of land and is home to 35,000 animals of 400 species. Besides giraffes, crocodiles, lions, tortoises, and rare birds, the zoo is also home to critically endangered Black Rhinos. The gray wolves, guinea pigs, Galapagos, and bats also attract children.


This big zoo in UK is also home to the largest zoo-based butterfly house in the UK. The Enrichment Garden, Bee Garden, Cacti National Plant Collection, an aquarium, and the Madagascan Habitat are the zoo’s highlights.

Contrary to others, Chester Zoo offers boat trips that take you on a river tour through the zoo. These unique tours are another reason why people find Chester Zoo the best zoo in UK.

Soon, the zoo is opening over 60 lodges and a new restaurant in the Grasslands zone around an artificial lake. So, now you can plan trips of more than a day at the zoo!

Welsh Mountain Zoo, Colwyn Bay

The Welsh Mountain Zoo, also known as the National Zoo of Wales, is one of the oldest zoos in the country. The Jackson family established the zoo in 1963 as a family business; it later became an important landmark among locals and tourists.

The zoo is home to around 100 animal species, including lemurs, gibbons, deer, red pandas, Sumatra tigers, etc. However, the zoo spans only over 37 acres. So, there’s not too much to see; you can visit the zoo in less than a day. But the zoo plans on adding more animals for visitors, including primates.

The Welsh Mountain is set in a beautiful location; you will get gorgeous views of the Carneddau mountains and Colwyn Bay coastline.

The zoo is a conservation and animal welfare site that works to protect endangered species. So, the children learn about endangered species in Britain and other parts of the world.

The Welsh Mountain Zoo also has cafés and picnic areas to enjoy a fun meal with your family. Also, don’t forget to buy a souvenir at the Trading Post Gift Shop.

Dublin Zoo, Dublin

According to most visitors, Dublin Zoo is one of the most popular zoos in the world and the best zoo in UK. It is a favorite family attraction among Dublin locals and tourists; the zoo welcomed over a million visitors last year!


The Dublin Zoo, located in Phoenix Park, houses around 400 animals in the 28-hectare area. It opened in 1831. The zoo has rhinos, giraffes, zebras, Asian elephants, Sumatran tigers, and Asian lion cubs. Moreover, you will see animals like chimpanzees, hippos, monkeys, bats, meerkats, and many others.

The zoo offers wheelchairs on request to make accessibility easy for people with disabilities. The Dublin Zoo also has a café, restaurant, shop, kiosks, and more. The Wild Lights are an unforgettable winter experience at the Dublin Zoo.

Furthermore, the Dublin Zoo is a registered charity. So, your visit contributes to maintaining the zoo and conserving the animals.

Shaldon Wildlife Trust, Devon

While some visitors might not think of this cute zoo in Devon, the best zoo in UK, it’s a popular attraction. Kids in the neighboring areas especially love this little zoo.

The Shaldon Wildlife Trust Zoo is a small zoo in the village of Shaldon. The trust zoo cares for and conserves endangered and rare animal species. They have over 50 species of animals there. And the best part is that you will see many rare animals not found in most zoos.

Twycross Zoo, Leicestershire

Twycross Zoo is the best pick if you live in or are visiting Leicestershire. This zoo is one of the smaller ones compared to most others, but it’s a must-see on the list. It is known for its conservation efforts and has been awarded for conserving endangered species.


Spanning over only 80 acres, Twycross Zoo started life as a pet shop in Sutton Coldfield in 1963. Now, it has over 500 animals from 125 species. The zoo houses meerkats, snow leopards, gorillas, bonobo monkeys, orangutans, and chimpanzees. Moreover, you can also see flamingos in this small zoo.

Besides learning about the animals, children can also enjoy the soft and outdoor play areas at the Twycross Zoo.

Bird World, Farnham

While it might not exactly fit the idea of the best zoo in UK for many, Bird World is a favorite among many. The park, spread over 26 acres of garden, is the largest bird park in UK.

The park is particularly dedicated to birds and has over 2000 birds from 150 species. It is the best pick if you mainly visit zoos to see exotic birds. The park has penguins, parrots, owls, flamingos, and many more.

The park has some of the rarest birds in the world. Around 40% of the birds in Bird World are endangered. Thus, it also works towards the welfare and conservation of rare and endangered birds. Besides birds, you can see farmyard animals at the Jenny Wren Farm in the zoo.

Bird World’s café provides an extensive range of food and drink options, including sandwiches, paninis, coffee, and other snacks.

Belfast Zoo, Belfast

The Belfast Zoo in Northern Ireland opened in 1934 and has been a favorite family spot for many years. It is one of the oldest tourist locations in Belfast, welcoming over 300,000 visitors annually. The zoo has over 140 species of animals living in the 55-acre area, making it the top zoo in UK.


Visitors can see animals from around the world, including Malayan tapirs, Rothschild’s giraffes, California sea lions, and Asian elephants. You also get to see Visayan warty pigs, Malayan sun bears, penguins, apes, giant anteaters, crowned sifaka, and others.

Most animals are rare, endangered species that the zoo makes efforts to conserve. Children can enjoy feeding sessions and talks on animal protection.

Longleat Safari, Warminster

When talking of the best zoo in UK, how could we miss the number one safari in the UK!

Longleat Safari is the best safari park in the world, allowing you to see and experience wildlife closely. Animals roam freely in this safari zoo in UK instead of being restricted to their enclosures. You will encounter tigers, lions, rhinos, cheetahs, wolves, deer, and many other animals. Some monkeys might also jump at your car as you drive through. Alternatively, you can walk on foot around zebras, giraffes, and goats.

If you are not a big fan of driving on the safari, you can opt for a jungle cruise that takes you in a riverboat. The Safari Bus Tour also helps you explore this exotic animal world. 

Marwell Zoo, Hampshire

Marwell Zoo is among the best locations in Hampshire for a fun day with family, followed by a picnic. The zoo covers 140 acres and has over 1200 animals, including 270 exotic and endangered species. It is the biggest zoo in Hampshire, comprising a café, gift shop, and four playgrounds.


The zoo has rare animals like white rhinos, Amur tigers, ring-tailed coatis, frilled lizards, and snow leopards. Additionally, you can see giraffes, capybara, tigers, meerkats, hippos, and other animals. Wild Explorers is their biggest exhibit showing Africa’s magnificent wildlife.

Colchester Zoo, Essex

While we usually consider the largest zoo in UK when planning a trip, Colchester Zoo is on the other end. It is the smallest zoo or zoological garden in UK, only over 60 acres. You might not find many animals here, but it is an excellent zoo if you are near or in Essex.

Colchester Zoo has 5,000 animals from 270 species. You can find giraffes, sun bears, meerkats, rhinos, flamingos, Komodo dragons, and penguins in the zoo, among other animals. Depending on the time of your visit, you might also see lots of baby animals.

The zoo is one of the best attractions for children in the city, with Jungle Tumble soft play. Despite being small, the Colchester Zoo has numerous animals for children to see and learn about.

Paignton Zoo, Devon

Situated in Devon, Paignton Zoo is considered the biggest zoo in the UK. It has animals from more than 2,500 species and a botanical garden that boasts 1,600 species of gorgeous flora.

The zoo is home to crocodiles, tigers, gorillas, apes, orangutans, and flamingos. You will also see parrots, crocodiles, rhinoceros, and other animals in Paignton Zoo.


Children can enjoy the outdoor play areas and clubs to learn more about the animals. The wobbly bridge is another interesting attraction that captivates visitors. Begin your trip with the Jungle Express Train and walk around the zoo through different trails.

Paignton Zoo is known for its conservation efforts to protect animals and preserve wildlife. So, you will find various endangered species in this zoo.

Howletts Wildlife Park, Kent

If you are an elephant lover, we have just found the perfect zoo for you; we’re sure it’ll become the best zoo in UK for you once you visit it.

The John Aspinall Foundation has two zoos, including Howletts Wildlife Park, near Port Lympne. John Aspinall Foundation works toward the care and conservation of animals. They protect animals and leave them in the wild after restoration.

The Howletts Wildlife Zoo spread over 100 acres is a popular zoo in UK with elephants. It has the largest herd of elephants in the UK. You also get the opportunity to walk with lemurs, feed animals, and join treetop adventures. Howletts Wildlife Park has leopards, Amur tiger, gorillas, and numerous other animals of 390 species.

You might be surprised to know that Steve Irwin once mentioned that the Howletts Wildlife Park has the finest gorillas in the world!

Peak Wildlife Park, Stoke on Trent

This centrally located zoo in Peak District welcomes thousands of visitors every year. It might not be one of the largest zoos in UK. Yet it has numerous activities and animal experiences to make your visit worthwhile.

It is an ideal attraction for people who love penguins; you can walk with the penguins in the Peak Wildlife Park.


Furthermore, experience being a zoo keeper, feeding lemurs, and learning about the animals when visiting the zoo. They also have pigs, zebras, rabbits, meerkats, and deer.

Take the kids to indoor and outdoor play areas and relish the delicious food around the park; their specialty pizza is a favorite!

Whipsnade Zoo, Bedfordshire

Whipsnade Zoo in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, is the largest zoo in UK according to the area. The zoo has over 600 acres of land and houses over 3,500 animals in massive enclosures. Considering the zoo’s area, you can take buses and rail inside the park. It is a part of the ZLS (Zoological Society London) that works toward sustainability and conservation.

The zoo has lions, penguins, cheetahs, rhinos, bears, hippos, Chinese water deer, and more. Children can also see penguins, brown bears, giraffes, Amur tigers, moose, and the UK’s largest herd of Asian elephants. Moreover, the zoo features a beautiful butterfly house and an aquarium with a few extinct fish.

You can stay near the Whipsnade Zoo and roam within the zoo in your car like a safari.

Port Lympne Reserve, Kent

Port Lympne is another safari on the list and a conservation site. Spread over 600 acres of land, the Port Lympne Reserve has 900 animals. You can explore the safari in your car or on foot, depending on what part of the reserve you want to see. Alternatively, get a ride on the safari truck to tour through the park.

Many people consider it the best zoo in UK because of its interactive experience. Port Lympne Reserve keeps and breeds animals before returning them to the wild. Common animals in the conservatory include leopards, bison, langurs, monkeys, gorillas, gibbons, rhinos, etc. So, when you visit the reserve, you can see all these animals roaming around.


The safari is very close to the African safari experience, and the staff shares valuable knowledge with the visitors. So, you will love the reserve if animal protection and conservation interests you.

Port Lympne also has various themed luxury hotels where visitors stay overnight to resume their trip the next day. Choose from 13 different types of rooms and enjoy your stay.

Dudley Zoo and Castle, Dudley

The next mention on the list, Dudley Zoo and Castle, is a unique experience you might not get anywhere else. This location is more than just a zoo; it allows you to see the animals in the remains of the ancient Dudley castle.

The castle is over 1,000 years old and is believed to be one of the most haunted locations in the UK. The third Earl of Dudley converted the castle grounds into a zoological garden, which opened to the public in 1937. The building received the World Monuments Fund status in 2009. The Dudley Zoo and Castle staff gives you insights into the castle’s history, followed by a ghost talk.

The Dudley Zoo has over 1,300 animals from 200 species. They include 30 mammal species, 4 cat species, 20 primate species, 50 bird species, reptiles, amphibians, and many native species. You will also see rare animals like the bush dog, arctic fox, and Sumatran tigers.

The Dudley Zoo and Castle has giraffes, red pandas, kookaburras, orangutans, monkeys, flamingos, spiders, iguanas, and many more.

There is so much to see at the Dudley Zoo and Castle that you’d need a whole day for a complete experience.

The Bottom Line

Talking of the best zoo in UK, London Zoo, Dublin Zoo, Edinburgh Zoo, Welsh Mountain Zoo, Marwell Zoo, and Peak Wildlife Park are must-mentions. Chester Zoo, Whipsnade Zoo, Paignton Zoo, and Howletts Wildlife Zoo are a favorite among those who want to see the biggest zoo in UK.

On the other hand, Belfast Zoo, Colchester Zoo, Twycross Zoo, and Shaldon Wildlife Trust Zoo are smaller than others and are favorites among locals. Additionally, you can explore Longleat Safari, Port Lympne Reserve, Dudley Zoo and Castle, and Bird World for unique experiences.


What is the number 1 zoo in the UK?

Chester Zoo is considered the best zoo in UK, as it welcomes over 1.5 million visitors annually. Moreover, Longleat Safari, Colchester Zoo, Welsh Mountain Zoo, and Dublin Zoo are also favorites among visitors.

What is the most ethical zoo in the UK?

London Zoo is the most ethical zoo in the UK as it provides care and makes an effort to conserve animals despite being close to the City center. Furthermore, Port Lympne Reserve returns animals to the wildlife after care and conservation.

What is the most beautiful safari park in Britain?

Longleat Safari Park is the most beautiful safari park in UK that allows you to experience animals in their natural habitat. If you are not a big fan of driving on the safari, you can opt for the jungle cruise.

Is Chester Zoo the largest in UK?

Chester Zoo in Cheshire is the largest zoo in UK, with over 35,000 animals from 400 species. The zoo has 650 staff members, which reaches 1,000 during summer.

How many zoos are in the UK?

Reports show that there are over 350 licensed zoos in UK. More than 50% of local authorities have one or more licensed zoos within their constituency.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *