“ Antrim Road, Belfast BT36 7PN. For general information please: Phone: +44 (028) 90776277. Fax: +44 (028) 90370578. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org „
I love animals and couldn't resist going to the Zoo as I hadn't been in years! Of course the day I picked to go, it was pouring rain, however I didn't let this stop my adventure :-)
On arrival the car park was empty apart from 3 or 4 cars.. was the zoo even opened? Yes, was the answer but other people had been a little wiser and stayed at home in these weather conditions.
I entered through reception and was a little shocked that they didn't accept my student card. They only took 18years old and under as student age :-( Darn! Full price for me.. The ticket was around £8 which wasnt too bad, however if there was a large number of people it might get a little pricey. Though I'm sure that they do discounts for families and large numbers.
Armed with my umbrella I started my day out around the zoo. It was completely empty and I think there were only about 2 more people in the area, they even could have been the workers. Although I thought no crowds would be a good point, due to the weather I couldn't see any animals either.. Maybe they were even wiser than me and stayed in bed too.
An A4 printed map is given after payment, however I found this useless as it was way too small to make out any details.
There was a wide variety of animals, but I couldn't help from thinking that some of the encolsures were somewhat small and verging on cruel. Maybe this isn't specifically a fault at this zoo, maybe zoo's in general are a little cruel.
I found the tropical birds enclosures way too small, I'm not sure if they could even fly in them.
The best areas I found were for the monkeys and gorillas, their surrounding were fab.
I can't really comment much on a lot of animals because I didn't see many if I am being honest. I think the guy at reception could have warned me that most of the animals would be hidden.. :-(
Overall it was a bit of a disppointing experience, though with different weather conditions and a picnic it would have been an ideal family day out.
I have been a couple times to Belfast Zoo and I think that it is a brilliant day out for all. Belfast Zoo is found on Cave Hill and is around 15-20 minutes from the city centre. If you drive to Belfast Zoo there is a free car park to use, but in the summer months when the Zoo is at it's busiest, the car park fills up very quickly, so I would recommend getting up there early to get a spot. There is also a train station located 3 miles from the Zoo and a there is also a bus service you can get.
For all directions and transport routes, just search Google or goon to the Zoo's website. (I will post the link at the bottom of this review.)
Belfast Zoo opened in 1934 and now has more than 1,200 animals and 140 different species. Belfast Zoo covers 55 acres and is the only Zoo in Northern Ireland.
When you first come into the Zoo, you get a map. This allows you to decided what you want to see first. It also has the routes of the different walks you can take. For example is you really want to see the big cats, then you would take the Cat walk. I think having these walks and routes is a really good idea, as it does take quite a log time going around the whole Zoo, but if you go to the Zoo to see something specific then this would be ideal for you.
The Zoo also offers enclosures and houses for different animals. For example there is a Ape house and also a reptile house. These houses also offer shelter to visitor to the Zoo because they are inside. So if it is a rainy day then and you don't want to plod around in the rain, this you could decided to mainly go to these houses. Also you can go into other place like the Bird park, which is home to many exotic birds. When walking through this, it reminded my of the scenes in Jurassic Park 3, but I thin that's me just being weird! lol.
The toilets in the Zoo are easy to find, as they are all marked on the map. The zoo also has baby changing facilities. Also highlighted on the map are the two places were you can get food and drinks. The Ark Café and the Kiosk. The Kiosk is at the entrance of the Zoo, so you can buy your snacks and refreshments before you set off into the Zoo. Everything in the Kiosk, is what you would typically find in a corner shop, thing like crisps, ice-cream and drinks. The Ark Café serves hot food and teas and coffees. I cant say that I have ever eaten in the Café, as each time that I have been to the Zoo I have brought my own packed lunch to eat. But the last time I was there I did purchase a clod drink from the Kiosk, which I was glad of when I was hiking around the Zoo!
The Ark Café is opened from 10am to 5.30pm in summer (April 1 to September 30)
And in winter (October 1 to March 31) from 10am to 3.30pm
The Zoovenier Shop:-
The Zoo's shop sells just about everything you would want to remember your visit to Belfast Zoo. From stuffed toys to confectionary. When I was there last I bought some stationary, which included a rubber, pencil and I think a ruler. All of them has the Belfast Zoo logo on them. I also bought a chocolate lollypop in the shape of a tiger. What I thought was really great was that the chocolate was fair-trade, which is something I find very important. The lolly was eaten in about 10 seconds because it was so nice.
There is so much to buy in the shop and I think it would be fair to say that that the Zoo makes a lot of money from the shop. Children are running around the shop wanting their parents to buy them everything thing that has a picture of a animal that they have just seen in the Zoo. And I can honestly say that I was one of those children when my parents took me to the Zoo when I was younger.
The shop opens at different time through out the year.
April - June: Monday to Friday 10am to 6pm
July to August:
Monday to Sunday 10am to 7pm
Monday to Friday 10am to 6pm
Saturday to Sunday 10am to 7pm
Summer (April 1 to September 30)
10am to 7pm daily
Winter (October 1 to March 31)
10am to 7pm daily
Adult (18 and above) - £8.50
Child (4 to 17) -£ 4.50
Children under four - Free
Seniors (60 and over) - Free
Disabled - Free
There are also family ticket and members ticket that can be purchased. To check out the full list of ticket, check out the Belfast Zoo website.
I have many fond memories of when I was younger being at the Zoo. Mainly I remember my dad having to carry me up the hill at the very top in the pouring rain, and I was 15. Only joking, I wasn't! But It is very exhausting walking around the Zoo and especially is you have a lot of younger children, as they might get tired out easily. Because of this you may not see every thing, but because you are given a map when you first come into the Zoo, this will help you decided what you really want to see first and then if you have time to see anything else.
Visiting Belfast Zoo is a brilliant experience and is something that can be enjoyed by the whole family.
The Zoo's website - http://www.belfastzoo.co.uk/
If you are planning to make a trip to the Zoo, I would recommend going onto the website, so that you will be able to plan your trip better. On the website you can also download a version of the map, which will give you a good idea of the layout of the Zoo, before you go.
Belfast Zoo, or "Belvue" as it's sometimes colloquially known, is located in North Belfast, about a 15 minute bus or car journey from the city centre.
I won't give the exact directions, as that's what Google Maps are for, but suffice to say if you are on the right road, it's rather hard to miss - with a giant bold "ZOO" sign visible on the left (if you are coming from Belfast). Don't hesitate to tell the bus driver that's where you want off, and that you're not sure where it is - sit near the front and he'll let you know when it's coming up.
Once there, it's a fairly steep walk up to the entrance and an even more steep entry fee at £8.50 for adults and £4.50 for children. In saying that, compared to Dublin Zoo and others throughout the British Isles, this isn't so bad.
But what about it's quality?
First of all, it's quite a spread out Zoo, and some of it can be quite hilly. On a nice, mild or warm day, this might not be so bad, but on a cold, wet, overcast, or even icy day - it could very well be a chore. Just bear in mind Belfast's habit of delivering poor weather.
Getting beyond this, the upside is that from the top there are some nice views over some of Belfast and towards Cavehill. But i'm guessing it's the animals most people come for, so what about them?
Put simply it's quite an average zoo which is slowly improving. There is definitely a good array of animal enclosures IF THEY DON'T HIDE THEMSELVES AWAY.
Some enclosures will provide views of the animals year round - while with others you'll struggle to see anything if it's a poor weather day.
Examples of the animals on show include your normal contingent of Giraffes, Elephants, Zebra's, Gorillas and Chimpanzees, along with the perhaps more interesting (but also elusive) Cheetahs, Lions, Tigers and Meerkats.
There are plenty more than that - but check their website http://www.belfastzoo.co.uk for a more thorough list.
In short though, any animal that any child or adult could realistically hope to see at a Zoo is on display somewhere here - it's really just a matter of whether they show themselves.
For kids there is the added bonus of a farmyard section, where all ones favourite farmyard animals can be viewed and even petted.
There is only really one place that jumps to mind if you're talking eating facilities, but it is probably sufficient for a casual lunch or afternoon snack.
Overall I think Belfast Zoo is definitely improving all the time. It is a bit pricey, but then so are all Zoos these days, and quite honestly for the same price you could go to W5 instead which I don't think delivers as much value for money - it really depends on what you or your kids are into.
Belfast Zoo is so underrated. Its an absolutely brilliant small zoo. Of course you wont see as many different species as some of the larger zoos, but it has a nice a variety and a decent amount of space for each animal. Its generally not at all crowded, and the children can really get a good a view of the animals for as long as they like without jostling crowds ( the exception being Easter Week when its packed).
The zoo has now become an elephant retirement home and offers a comfortable place for former circus elephants. This is all the more reason to support the zoo with a visit or membership. It also boasts rare barbary lions, penguins, sea lions and a number of other interesting creatures. I especially like the prairie dogs that have escaped their enclosure and live loose on a hillside. We loved the Lemurs running loose too, but these seem to be confined now. One jumped up and stole my sons lunch, which he found amusing, but I suppose others might not. thankfully I was able to snatch back the sandwich as it had clear wrap on it.
The zoo also has a nice play park for the children. It is basic, but always a hit with our boys. It has a farm area where you can pat some of the farm animals near the park. there are several children's events as well throughoout the year such as a teddy bear picnic and a chance to wrap gifts for chimpanzees. More details can be found on their website.
We've had a membership for years, and frequently visit. We still enjoy ourselves every time, and the membership is money well spent for locals.
You can bring your own lunch, or buy one in the zoos cafe ( the one at the bottom offers a great deal more variety). Prices are reasonable for food and the gift shop, staff very courteous.
The only downside is the zoo is quite steep and can be a bit tiring pushing a pram, or could be difficult if not physically fit, although they do have shop mobility scooters available.
It could be argued that modern zoos are multifunctional in a way that the Victorians, (who were largely responsible for developing the concept from private collections) simply couldn't have conceived of. Zoos conserve, protect, educate and maintain. At their most fundamental, though, zoos can be summed up thusly: they keep the animals in. Predictably, it is at this most basic of requirements that Belfast Zoo fails. Spectacularly so, in fact. Less of a zoo, more of a free range menagerie, really. The worrying thing is, their propensity to misplace the livestock is a vital part of what makes this zoo so cheerfully eccentric and worth visiting.
~~"Zoo: An excellent place to study the habits of human beings."~~
Were you going to build a zoo, I imagine you'd take account of at least some of the following things: layout, ease of access, space, and security. Thus, you'd probably build your zoo in a grid layout on a flat expanse of land with easy access to major road networks, and you'd make sure it was a reasonable distance from domestic dwellings. Being eminently sensible, and having some awareness that without the animals you've pretty much got no zoo, I suspect you'd invest in some kind of reinforced metal enclosures as well. All of that seems reasonably prudent, no? Well, here's what happened with Belfast Zoo. First up, they built a zoo around a dance hall. My mother remembers going to 'hops' (yep, she's that old) there and seeing the odd tiger ambling lazily past the window as she watched Pink Floyd. My mother claims never to have done any drugs. Make of that what you will. It should be pointed out that this site is positioned fairly precariously on the side of a mountain. Cavehill, to be exact. You know how the bus teeters over the edge at the end of The Italian Job? Well, that's the kind of structural solidity that Belfast Zoo can only dream of. In terms of where it's situated, the zoo is entirely surrounded by housing and schools. The wolf enclosure backs onto the primary school where I did my teaching practice meaning that breaktime supervision in the playground was often considerably livened up by a five year old heard shouting 'look! Big dog! Big dog! And it's smiling!' Lastly, the enclosures seem to have been inspired by those provided in the Duplo zoo set that I had as a child. Every time I go I expect to see the fence around the lion enclosure held together with sellotape and baler twine.
Like many Northern Irish attractions, Belfast Zoo seduces with promises of greatness and then at the last minute, turns out to be slightly less than impressive. We have a long and glorious history of this. Carrickfergus Castle, for instance, implies that it will be properly castle-y and interesting. What it is, though, is some rubble. Some slippery rubble, a bit of a wall and a fecking freezing sea wind, to be precise. Similarly, the Giant's Ring (go ahead and snigger. Everybody does) promises a Neolithic tomb with evidence of dwelling and ritual sites. And, in fairness, from the nomenclature alone, you would be well within your rights to expect a giant. Or a really tall bloke, at least. In fact, it's just some rocks. They're in a circle, and that, but fundamentally they are...still just rocks. Following this tradition, Belfast Zoo is the proud standard-bearer of attractions that are over-ambitious in their aspirations. That said, calling it 'rubbish' earlier may have been a smidge harsh. They mean well, but it's just that I'm always quietly expecting to see a big sign that reads 'Belfast Zoo introduces its newest exhibit! Come and see the...gerbils! Yes, never before seen these ferocious and wily creatures are in no way the little rodenty type things that Pets At Home sell by the hundred! No; they're ferocious and wily, we tell you!'
~~The Great Escape~~
So, the zoo does have some good points. Chief amongst these is the sheer comedic regularity with which the animals go walkabout. To lose a monkey once is understandable, but twice or thrice begins to look like carelessness. To date, there have been quite a few devilishly cunning escape attempts on the part of felines, simians, and, um, rodents, that have completely outwitted the keepers in a manner that would make Steve McQueen proud. Some of the better escape attempts have included:
Famously, a Colobus monkey vaulted over the fence in 2005 and hung out in a neighbouring back garden for a while. The zoo keepers released a happily anthropomorphised statement which read, in essence: 'he's had a fight with his dad and he'll come back when he's good and ready.' (sub-text: 'oh, he'll be back alright. He's left his XBox and his Radiohead CDs behind.') The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed a distinct lack of urgency about recapturing the errant monkey; indeed, were one not to know better, one might assume that Belfast Zoo's gloriously devil-may-care attitude to keeping track of the wildlife had some kind of Moses-esque 'let my animals go' undertones. It doesn't, though. They're just not that good at their jobs.
Back in 1998 a tiger thought he'd take his chances on the mean streets of Belfast. Unfortunately, the Good Friday agreement didn't recognise Panthera tigris as a political party and the police shot and killed him.
Over the last few years, Belfast Zoo have managed to reintroduce two red pandas into the wild, entirely unintentionally. The first was in 2001 with the second a year later. One suspects them of plotting a cunning escape bid in the manner of Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption. Neither of the pandas ended up married to Susan Sarandon, though, for which they're probably enormously grateful.
In 2003 in a story that's almost too good to be true, a band of Black Macaques broke into the control room adjoining their enclosure one night and turned off the electric fence so that they could wander round the zoo and look at all their fellow inmates.
My favourite story by far, though, is the time a couple of years ago when terrified locals in the vicinity of the zoo phoned police claiming that a huge, sandy coloured beast with a large mane was stalking the streets around Cavehill. The frightened residents cowered in their houses while police and army were mobilised and the keepers checked their animals. Eventually, a slightly shamefaced spokesperson for the locals admitted that, yes, the 'lion' they saw had, in fact, been a big Golden Retriever. Rest easy, Belfast!
~~All roads lead to Rome. Some lead to the zoo.~~
Aim for the Antrim Road and head towards Glengormley. My mum's house is just off the Antrim Road, but she's currently engaged in long-running dispute with some magpies, so she might be too distracted to make you tea and biscuits. Still, if you want to see a pensioner being comprehensively outwitted by birds, go right ahead. Anyway, just after Floral Road on the right and before you come to the motorway flyover you'll see a big sign for the zoo pointing up the hill. Throw the car in second and once more into the breach, dear friends.
Well, now that you're at the zoo, you have two methods of attack. You can either a) start from the bottom and work your way up, or b) haul yourself to the top of the mega-big hill and perambulate downwards via various enclosures. I'd recommend option b, as doing the climb in lots of little stages is actually more knackering. In honesty, it's a steep walk but there are stopping off points and I managed it with an excitable pensioner:
'Look at the bird, Fiona! It's just sitting right there on the pavement looking at me! What kind is it? Is it exotic?'
'It's a pigeon, mum.'
'Oh. Well, look at that one over there! It looks vicious! Is it a bird of prey?'
'It's another pigeon, mum.'
However, with a pram, pushchair or self-powered wheelchair, you are going to find it a bit of a struggle. Electric mobility scooters are available upon request, but I suspect their number is limited so it would be wise to phone ahead and book them.
~~"The quizzical expression of the monkey at the zoo comes from his wondering whether he is his brother's keeper, or his keeper's brother"~~
I'll detail some of the things you can see at the zoo. Or rather, some of the things that I saw at the zoo, as to list them all would be tedious and also because there were a few things we missed due to my mother being easily distractible.
*Flamingos and other big birdy things
Yes, indeed; quite the ornithologist am I. The flamingos are identifiable by being gangly and pink. The others are just generically feathery things. Tsk. What more do you want from me? Who goes to a zoo to see the birds? Honestly.
*Bear type things
There's at least one person going to tell me that many things I've slotted into this category aren't actually bears. However, judging by their ability to evade Belfast's finest zoo keepers, red pandas are smarter than the average bear, so in this category they shall remain. They look nothing like pandas, being quite little and raccoony in appearance. They're notoriously shy, but if you bide your time, wait quietly and don't have my mother with you they will eventually put in an appearance. There's also spectacled bear and they're almost as cute as the red pandas. The reason I like them is not because of any zoological interest, but rather that in Berlin, three years ago, an Andean spectacled bear 'paddled across a moat and scaled a wall before attempting to commandeer a bicycle.' Isn't that brilliant? The idea of a bear commandeering a pushbike tickles me no end. Paddington and Pooh would be proud.
*Lions and tigers, oh my
When I was there the Barbary lion pride had a couple of cubs, but I would imagine they're fairly well grown by now. There was a Siberian tiger, but he sadly died last year. There's now a Sumatran tiger, I believe. Both enclosures are quite distant from viewing points and are densely wooded, so you might struggle to see anything. Given the zoo's history of escapees, though, that's the better option than viewing them at extreme close-up range. We missed the cheetahs as they took one look at my mother and fecked off at high speed. Similarly the wolves were nowhere to be seen (gorging themselves on nearby children, no doubt).
The ring-tailed lemurs had escaped the day we went and were free-ranging all over the zoo. When this was pointed out to the keepers they said they'd let themselves back into their enclosure when they were hungry. The kangaroos and the wallabies we missed because my mother said, and I quote: 'those furry bouncing things? I don't think so. I see enough of them at home.' I daren't risk delving deeper into that statement with her, for fear of what I might uncover.
The penguins were the most unexpectedly ace things I saw all day. They live in a big pool which has an underwater viewing window. They seemed utterly fascinated by this and would follow your hand if you moved it along the window. The sea lions were calming to watch, but there was loads of litter floating in their water which no-one seemed to be doing anything about.
The chimpanzee enclosure is nicely spacious compared to some of the others and they've got loads of informational material around (for the humans, rather than the chimps, one would assume). Two of them were having a fight outside, so my mother shouted at them to 'stop being bad monkeys' and they did. That convinced her she was Dr Doolittle. However, her entreaties to the gorillas to 'stop smelling of wee' fell on deaf ears. Tamarins, langurs, marmosets, macaques, Goeldi's monkeys and the acrobatic and prone-to-having-a-strop-and-running-away Colobus monkeys can also be seen.
The elephant is called Tina and is in an enclosure which looks, to the untrained zoological eye, to be ridiculously small for such a huge animal. We didn't linger there, because she looked miserable and because my mother elbowed a six year old who was trying to throw stones at Tina. Besides, the main reason that anyone comes to a zoo is, obviously, the giraffes, and Belfast Zoo have them aplenty. They're housed with ostriches, which seems weird, and with zebras. Possibly they're experimenting with stripes and squares. Whatever the reason, the zebras gallop around making that odd zebra noise, and the giraffes look cool and lope up to have a look at the visitors. The ostriches are just pointlessness in bird form.
There are many more animals than I've covered here, but lest this turn into one of those mega-long, 9,000 word Tolstoy-esque epics I shall direct you towards their website, http://www.belfastzoo.co.uk/ Here you'll find prices, opening hours and facilities, because they're too dull to write about.
Belfast Zoo is the last publicly funded zoo in the UK and is one that struggles to make a profit every year. It is far from being state of the art, and I wish they'd make alternative arrangements for the larger animals which seem cramped. However, their intentions are good and some of the exhibits are genuinely well-planned. And, if you get lucky, there's a very real chance that an escaped animal will follow you home (my mother was this close to persuading a lemur into her handbag).
*This review is also on Ciao under my username, tallulahbang. I didn't pinch it, honest.
Belfast Zoo is the only zoo in the North of Ireland and is situated on Antrim Road at the bottom of Cave hill. Its is well sign posted from main roads and has a large free car park and an overflow carpark for when it gets busy.
It has recently celebrated its 75th year and seems to be going from strength to strength. Just last year they finished building the new £600,000 visitors centre and giftshop.
I have been a member of the zoo now for 2 years and will continue to be one too as I think it is a lovely place to go and see the animals.
The animals that are in the zoo include the usual suspects such as lemurs, sealions, penguins, different birds, prairie dogs, meerkats and monkeys, 3 elephants, giraffes and zebras etc.
The slightly more unusual animals include red pandas, barbary lions (which are now extinct in the wild), a new young male sumatran tiger, Kabus, has been introduced this year following the death of the white tiger Jack last year and they have plans to bring in a female tiger so they will hopefully mate and breed.
There is a rainforest enclosure which you can actually walk through and this houses 2 sloths and various bats and birds etc. There is also a walk through aviary with a pretty waterfall feature too. (found that the kids quite enjoyed these as the animals where a lot closer rather than behind glass or hedges).
The sea lion enclosure and the penguin enclosures have underwater viewing areas so you can see them swimming around not just on the rocks to the side of the water.
The zoo is built in a very steep hill however and some care would need to be taken when walking around. Although the walkways are wide and therefore you do not have people walking up your back if you need to stop and catch your breath.
There are toilets as you enter the park, in the middle of the park and at the top of the hill which are easily accessible from both sides so you do not need to worry when choosing which route to walk.
there are also quite a few picnic benches - especially around the lake and childrens farm area towards the bottom of the hill incase you wish to bring food with you. There is also a childs play area beside the lake and in the better weather there isusually an ice cream van on hand to offer some refreshments.
There is a cafe in the zoo again this is situated at the bottom of the hill (there was a small cafe at the very top of the hill but unfortunately due to a fire last year it was destroyed)
At the top of the hill there is now a viewing platform where you have wonderfully clear views of the harbour and surrounding areas. It really is worth the trek to the top of the hill.
There is also a war memorial near the top of the hill - I believe this is to recognise the men that died in a plane that crashed there during the war.
The prices I feel are very reasonable at..
£6.90 for an adult (18 and above) and
£3.50 for a child (4 - 17 years old)
under 4's and seniors (over 60) go free
family ticket 2 adults and 2 children is £18.60
(correct as at Feb 2010)
The times for opening are
10am - 4pm in winter (01/10 to 31/03) and
10am - 7pm in the summer (01/04 - 30/09)
The zoo has a website which should answer all queries and i found it very helpful when planning my last visit with family and if you want there is the option to print out a map before hand.
Disadvantages - sometimes the hedges can be quite high and for children this can spoil the viewing. The hill is an obvious disadvantage for ease of walking around the zoo and I have found that often some enclosures are empty or the animals are not out and you cannot see into their houses etc and so can be a bit hit and miss. Understandably animals cannot be made to come out and need their privacy but little ones don't always understand this.
The Belfast Zoo is set in the beautiful Cave hill area,from the top of the zoo there is such a view over the lough and Belfast.When you arrive at the zoo there is quite a steep approach and inside the zoo is quite hilly too which is not great for people with walking difficulties.There is an electric train which travels all the way round the zoo so you dont have to miss out. Prices our reasonable and disabled people go free.
The first things you encounter when you enter the zoo are a kids farm on the left hand side there kids can see a number of animals,donkeys,cows,goats,pigs and piglets snakes,bats,also in this area there are lemurs which run free it is wonderful for kids and adults alike.
Leave the farm and on your right there is a lake with beautiful flamingos and an island with spider monkeys,move a little further on and there is a well equipped kids playground and there are benches dotted throughout where you can sit and rest.
The further you ascend up the mountain the more animals await you in lovely spacious well kept areas.
These are some of the animals your going to meet kangaroos,elephants,giraffes,ape s,chimpanzees also lions,tigers beautiful white tiger,sun bears eagles birds to name a few.
Other convenient things include toilets cafeteria and a shop to buy reminders of your
visit too the zoo. I would highly recommend a trip to the zoo for kids and adults alike.
Last Sunday we all wanted to go away somewhere different than the usual cinema trips and so we decided we would take a trip down to Belfast Zoo. This zoo is located on the outskirts of Belfast and is a great place to bring the kids, though Dublin Zoo is a much larger zoo with more variety of animals and I think next time we decide to go to a zoo we will take the extra few hours in the car and go to Dublin instead.
Belfast Zoo has a decent though not amazing range of monkeys, gorillas, lions, tigers, birds, penguins, sea lions, foxes, bats, reptiles and many other animals, it is a small/medium sized zoo though it involves a lot of walking up steep hills, there is however carts for disabled people to use to get about.
Belfast Zoo is however (apart from the hills) very child friendly, there is a petting zoo with different animals that children can go see right beside a play park and a large lake with different birds including flamingos, swans and ducks.
The animals in Belfast Zoo look quite well looked after, though still I hate to see some of the more aware and intelligent animals locked up and put on show, though alot of them are sadly endangered species and need to be protected.
We paid around £7.50 each into the zoo, which was well worth it as we spent the whole day walking around it and eating lunch, the Zooveiner shop is at the exit and sells all kinds of nice little zoo toys, magnets and bracelts etc.
Overall we had a good day at Belfast Zoo, though I think next time we will go and see Dublin Zoo because it is much bigger and will have more animals.
Belfast Zoo is located about 15 minutes away from Belfast City Centre. It can be reached easily by car or any bus going in the direction of Glengormley. The zoo is currently Belfast's most popular tourist attraction. The zoo is located on the slopes of the cave hill. This has both positives and negatives. The negatives are pretty obvious and are all the steep hills that have to be negotiated. This may be a problem for older party members or people pushing prams or wheelchairs. On the plus side the views of Belfast Lough from certain sections of the Zoo are fantastic and provide a great backdrop to any picnic.
The zoo also has ample and free car parking.
Opening times and admission costs
The zoo is open all year round but the opening hours vary depending on the season. Generally though the zoo is open 10-7 during the summer months and 10-5 during the winter months. The admission for the zoo is currently £8.30 for adults and £4.40 for children. Under fours and senior citizens go free.
Belfast zoo is involved in European breeding programmes and is by all accounts a very successful breeding zoo. Just last year a lion cub was a welcome addition to the zoo. There are 1200 animals at the zoo covering 140 species covering spectacled bears, lions, sea eagles, sea lions all manner of monkeys, gorillas, birds, farm animals and my favourite the penguins.
I have been to the zoo numerous times and have always found it to be a fun and enjoyable day out. Whilst i acknowledge the zoo is not the best in the world it does a very good job with the resources that it has available. On my last visit I was struck by the amount of different monkeys that they had. So much so that I remarked that the zoo could almost be remained monkey zoo. This is fine if you like monkeys. The animals appear to be well looked after and the viewing areas are very good whilst at the same time respecting the animals. There is also a very positive approach to teaching members of the public especially young people about the animals and where they come from.
Throughout the year the zoo organises a number of events from summer bbqs to Halloween fancy dress. I have not been to any but they seem like a very good family day out and create a positive impression. There is a shop at the entrance, a restaurant and a cafe at the top of the zoo. These can be expensive and with a troop of kids you would probably be better of bringing a picnic.
Overall Belfast Zoo provides a good fun day out and gives children a chance to see a wide variety of animals up close. The park is very spacious and encourages family picnic. The facilities of the zoo in terms of bathrooms are also decent. I would be happy to recommend the zoo to anyone visiting Belfast
The summer months, as usual, have been terrible. The kids were off school, but the weather meant that they were really bored. we thought long and hard about something that we could all do as a family, as we have a 2 year old, a 5 year old, and an 8 year old.
Sometimes it is hard to keep them all interested. For example, the cinema would be a non-starter, as little Grace would just not sit at peace. A walk might keep Grace, and Emma at bay, but my eldest Daniel would be bored to the point of tears! So, we sat down as a family and decided that the zoo was a good idea.
We went on to the website, to find out what attractions there were, and more importantly for a family of 5, what price it would be. we found the following information on the site. The first figure is the price for the peak summer months, and the second is off season.
Adult £8.10 / £6.70
Child (aged four to 17) £4.70 / £3.40
Children under four years Free / Free
Disabled Free / Free
Seniors (60 years and older) Free / Free
Family ticket (two adults and two children) £22 / £18
Individual season ticket (adult) £24 / £24
Individual season ticket (children) £12 / £12
Family season ticket £67.50 £67.50
Reductions for parties of 25 or more £7 (adults) and £3.50 (children) £5.60 (adults) and £2.80 (children)
Education rate (bookings necessary) £7 (adults) and £3.50 (children) £5.60 (adults) and £2.80 (children)
Parties of 250 people or more receive a 30 per cent discount on normal admission prices.
So, given that Grace was two, the best value for us would be the family ticket, two adults and two children for £22. Quite reasonable, I thought.
That done, we made up a packed lunch, brought crisps and drinks, and of course a nice flask of coffee for my good lady wife and I. It was with genuine happiness that we loaded all into the Zafira and set off. All the family were looking forward to it, and for the first time in a few weeks, the sun came out. Little Grace spent much of the journey talking about little monkeys. I told her that we didn't need to go to the zoo to see little monkeys, that we had some in the car. I don't think she got it though, because she spent the next few miles looking around the car with a worried expression, expecting a monkey to jump out of the glove box or something!
The journey did not take that long, and we were soon unpacking and getting ready to enter the zoo. The car park was really big, and we managed to get parked close to the gate. We did not have to wait long, and soon we were inside. My first impression was that it seemed well maintained. Although it was busy, there didn't appear to be too much rubbish about. Hedges and plants looked in good condition. The only downside was that there was the remnants of an old hall close to the entrance. It looked like it may have been grand at one time, but had become derelict. I read later that Pink floyd had played there years ago, but it was damaged buring the troubles in Northern Ireland. However, Belfast city council are seeking funding to do it up again. I think that this would give the zoo a better look.
Belfast Zoo is one of the top attractions in Northern Ireland, receiving more than 295,000 visitors a year.
Located in north Belfast, the zoo's 55 acre site is home to more than 1,200 animals and 140 species. The majority of the animals are critically endangered in the wild. I could not possibly list them all, but I will give you a little insight into my families favourites.
New to the zoo, is a little rainforest exhibition. It is a walkthrough, with closing doors at each end. Inside there are a multitude of animals, the best of which was the two toed sloth. He is sooo lazy, and just like to lie there, not very exciting, but interesting nonetheless. Other animals in this exhibition include.
20 Rodrigues bats
two red-footed tortoises
Luzon bleeding heart dove
Fulvous whistling ducks
speckled mouse birds
greater necklace laughing thrush.
Other favourites would be, the white tiger, the gorilla enclosure, the bird exhibition, the various monkey houses, and the large enclosure that holds the elephants, Giraffes and zebras. The sheer size of the animals scared little Grace at times, but she loved it, as did all the kids. When Grace saw the meerkats, she actually tried to climb in with them, shouting about how cute they were, and how she wanted to take one home!
All of the animals seemed in good health, and happy in their enclosures. The only negative that I would have on that front, would be that the zoo itself needs a wee lick of paint here and there. A little bit of a revamp would just make the whole experience fresher, cleaner, and more modern. Dont get me wrong, its not in bad condition, but it could be made so much better, relatively inexpensively.
Overall, the zoo is well worth the money. It is not on the same level as Dublin zoo, but it has some nice attractions, and is very reasonably priced. My kids were really happy with their day, and if my kids are happy, then so am I. We enjoyed our pic-nic (though to my embarrassment, my fear of wasps led me to run away from my family at one point!), and got a really good walk out of it. Thats one thing. If you have small children, or are travelling with the elderly, or disabled, bear in mind that the zoo itself is set on a very steep hill. Its was a hard trek for our, relatively fit family, and you should be prepared for this before you go.
We drove home happier, and the zoo should count its monkeys, because the back of the car certainly sounded as though I had a few extra! We got home, and the kids went to bed early. They were wrecked, but happy. They slept like they had never slept before.....
It was a muggy Sunday afternoon in August when myself, David, Jennie my sister, Johnny her hubby & my adorable, loveable & the apple of my eye niece Lucy visited Belfast zoo. To be truthful Lou was probably too young (she’s only just 12months) to get any real experience from the visit – but I’ll take her again! I love Belfast Zoo and have visited it on numerous occasions – l now even have the pleasure of not living far away from it! I have been able to see the extensive renovations and enlargements made for the benefit of all the animals housed. I can remember visiting the zoo as part of an organised trip by my branch of the Girls Brigade. I know l was under 10 at the time but l remember the polar bears pacing back and forth in these tiny cages with bars and water pouring through. Even to an under 10 l could see the sadness and resignation in the poor creature’s eyes. Now, thankfully things are so much better – for the polar bears and all the other animals housed here. Large enclosures have been erected – polar bears have diving pools and areas to swim, also fake caves have been made for them to hide in. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION The zoo is known to locals as Bellevue – this is simply the area surrounding it. It is etched into the side of Cavehill - which towers over Belfast. From this you may well assume there’s a lot of up hill walking involved in your zoo visit! It is worth reaching the top of the enclosures though – the views across Belfast Lough are spectacular – you can watch the ships & ferries cone in and out or see the giant cranes Samson & Goliath found at the historic Harland & Wolff shipyard. If you are travelling from the Belfast follow the M2 until you reach the “Glengormley” slip road, follow the road until you reach a roundabout and then take the 2nd last turn off. You are now on the Antrim Road, follow this road makin
g no deviations from it and you will see the sign for the zoo entrance – it is about 11/2 miles down this road. If you are travelling from Londonderry or the North West once you hit the M2 follow it until you see the slip road for “Glengormley” You should come upon a roundabout, take the 2nd turn off and this is the Antrim Road. Follow the directions as then given above. OPENING HOURS/COSTS At different times of the year the zoo opens at different hours – obviously the summer months are the most popular times. * April-September 10am – 5pm – Monday to Sunday * October – March 10am – 2.30pm – Monday to Sunday These prices are correct until 30th September 2001: Adults - £5.90 Children (4-14) - £2.90 Under 4’s – free Senior Citizens – free Disabled – free Family Ticket – 2 adults & 2 kids - £16 – you save £1.50 Should groups wish to visit it is advisable to contact the zoo directly, as reductions are available. FACILITIES So on top of seeing the animals what else is on offer at the zoo? Ark Restaurant – overpriced and lacks originality – but if its wet you can get a warm meal! Mountain TeaShop – once you reach this point in the zoo refreshment is essential so this teashop is in the ideal locus! Just what you’d expect – tea, coffee and tray bakes! Sweet/Snack Shops – get your ice-lollies, ice creams, soft drinks or candy floss here – keeps both the young and big kids happy! Souvenir Shop – good marketing here – you pass this shop on your way in and on your way out! Buy soft toys, figurines, masks etc of your favourite animals. Expensive sums it up really. I feel sorry for those parents dragged in here b
y their kids. First Aid – various posts are located around the zoo Toilets & Mum & Baby Rooms – again these are dotted around the zoo. I must say though that l found the toilets vile – they stink and are covered in graffiti – but unfortunately if you gotta go you gotta go! Picnic Tables – just use these – you have wonderful views, there are trees for shade and plenty of waste paper bins around. There are green areas too for kiddies to play. Excellent as long as the weather stays dry! Free Parking – quite a large car park with separate coach parking facilities. It does tend to fill up quickly at weekends and during summer months WHAT TO EXPECT TO SEE…… The Children’s Farm Unfortunately due to foot and mouth this area was closed to the public. We were still able to catch a glimpse of the rare breeds of cattle and sheep etc. Generally this is a popular area as certain animals can be stroked Spider Monkey Island Purpose built for the spider monkeys. They are very agile – you can see them swinging, climbing and playing. There were a few babies with their mummies there on our visit Primate Enclosure This is where the chimps and gorillas can be found. One of our favourite areas! I could spend ages admiring these amazing creatures. The gorillas seemed to be playing tag when we were there and seemed oblivious to our stares! Lucy l don’t think could believe her eyes! At the moment here favourite word (and only one!) is cat – these were big cats in her eyes! Also on view are Columbus Monkeys. African Enclosure This selection of the zoo is given over to some of the larger animals of the animal kingdom. There are special enclosures, which are heated for the animal’s wellbeing. We saw zebras, giraffe’
;s, ostrich’s and camels. There was a baby giraffe there which was amazing – really magnificent creatures. The Elephant Enclosure The elephants at Belfast Zoo are Asian and we have Vishesh here. Vishesh is the 3rd only surviving baby found in the British Isles. She was with her mum and boy was she a cutie! Lucy at this point l thought was going to explode – and again they were called cats! Penguin & Sealion Pools Especially for KathrynE! Here you can see both the sealions and penguins in their surroundings and if you wish you can view them swimming under water! These are only a few of the animals to see at Belfast Zoo. My personal favourites have to be the mere cats – they are real little characters. Belfast zoo is a great day out – although knackering. If the weather is good there are play areas for kids whilst grown ups can relax by the duck pond. One word of advice though – wear comfortable shoes – there’s a lot of up hill walking! Heather