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Superb zoo experience, definitely punches above its weight!
Banham Zoo (Norfolk)
Member Name: k4ssie
Banham Zoo (Norfolk)
Advantages: Perfect size for a comfortably paced day out
Disadvantages: Catering isn't great
OK, for starters i'm going to assume that anyone reading this can get all the basic information (location, opening times, prices etc) from Banham's main website (www.banhamzoo.co.uk) so i won't repeat it here.
If you're anywhere in East Anglia, with or without children, i'd heartily recommend Banham Zoo as a magical day out.
It's the perfect size - big enough to keep you thoroughly occupied all day, but small enough that the staff are friendly and laid back, and you can get around easily.
There's a great selection of animals, birds and reptiles - including the big, exotic animals like giraffes, tigers and zebras which you might associate with larger establishments. Enclosures are large and reflect the animals' natural habitats as much as possible.
I'd advise arriving by about 10am and then using the schedule of talks and feeding times which runs throughout the day, to guide you around the zoo. You'll get to see keepers interacting with the animals, and also have the chance to ask questions or just chat with them about the animals.
My last visit was in April 2009, and the place was just bursting with baby animals of all kinds. They have a couple of young giraffes, three cheetah cubs which could be seen curled up within a few feet of the window into their indoor enclosure, and many tiny babies amongst the various monkey species. If you visit on a weekday out of school holiday time, you'll often have large areas to yourself, and can just sit in the sun and watch the animals - a really absorbing and refreshing experience.
There's also a very good gift shop with a wide variety of good quality, animal -themed merchandise.
The only slight criticism i have is that the catering options weren't great - at peak times there's a kentucky-style fried chicken bar in addition to the minimal cafeteria food, but this wasn't open when we went. It was basically some rather unappetising looking hot dogs, pasta or chilli, or prepacked sandwiches, all at the usual premium prices. I'd recommend bringing a coolbag with a few cans and some nice snacks, otherwise you could easily spend the same again as the entrance fee on a not particularly nice lunch.
Overall though, a very high quality day out - i'd be buying an annual pass and going every weekend to watch the babies grow up, if i lived closer!
Summary: Your inner child will love this place!