Zoo-mazing – Paignton Zoo

Paignton Zoo is without doubt one of the best zoo’s in the UK and I’m not just saying this. We’ve been to many zoos, conservation centres and safari parks and there are several different things which make Paignton Zoo a must visit.

First of all I have to commend the beauty of the grounds. Set in the beautiful county of Devon the expansive grounds took us the best part of a Saturday to explore. We didn’t get to see everything because Arlo at 22m old was insistent on walking and this meant going at his pace and stopping to absorb everything, so we will definitely come back again.

The view from the far end of the zoo, past elephant house and across the camel enclosure gives you an incredible view of the sea and it’s well worth the hilly hike just for this.

En route the grounds are stunning, with botanical landscaping throughout. We visited at just the right time of year to see the bluebells making an appearance, and I was delighted to see wildflowers planted and “bee hotels” throughout – there’s no aspect of conservation untouched.

We always take the time to read the information around the enclosures about all of the animals, and being a passionate animal lover we visit zoos in an attempt to teach Arlo about all of the animals which exist, in the hope that when he is old enough to travel the world there will still be wild Rhino’s and tigers.

Their extinction is a very alarming and real threat and pausing to read about the work the zoo and the trust is involved in is fascinating.

We spent a long time in the giraffe and elephant house, I had read some online reviews about the solitary elephant, however having stayed for the keeper talk and learn about Duchess, and the obvious passion the team have for her, I am entirely satisfied that she is living out her golden years in the best place.

I couldn’t possibly give details about every animal we encountered, but there were many species which we hadn’t come across before. So many varieties of birds, but Arlo spent a while following peacocks around as they roam the grounds freely, and was delighted to be surrounded fed by hens as we stopped at one of the many play parks dotted around grounds.

There were lots of picnic stops, benches and refreshment stores all clearly sign posted for our regular snack stops, even on a busy Saturday during school holidays we never felt crowded.

A couple of stand out experiences include the desert walk through – this vast indoor space was full of birds flying around us, which gave us a chance for some really close encounters, and was a truly unique experience.

My personal favourite was the monkey area – I’m no an expert but the enclosures looked well laid out, lots of enrichment, very clean and the whole area was full of information, educational and interactive displays about issues such as palm oil deforestation, difficult for anyone to miss.

There’s also other environments to explore – we spent a lot of time with the crocodiles, the reptiles, the lemurs and then also wandering through an outdoor wetlands trail/aviary.

It’s certainly worth keeping track of time to follow the animal feeds and talks – the keepers are extremely knowledgable and happy to answer any questions you may have, and all extremely patient with children.

I think aside from meeting all of the new animals – the highlight of Arlo’s day was the little train ride which took us around the lake across to the big cat enclosures for a view you wouldn’t get from the pathways. After a chat with the driver we learned about the local steam railway which we squeezed in time to visit on the last day of our holiday.

We also learned about another site run by the trust in Torquay – “Living Coasts” and manages to visit whilst on this mini break. There are opportunities to receive discounted entry tickets between these attractions if you speak with the teams at reception.

Thank you Paignton Zoo, we will be back again very soon and highly recommend as a must visit to holiday makers in the area.

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