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Belvue - Improving all the time
Member Name: tiaw
Date: 26/05/10, updated on 26/05/10 (42 review reads)
Advantages: More animals coming, better enclosures
Disadvantages: Sometimes the animals don't come out to play, and a bit pricey
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.
Summary: Beats Dublin Zoo hands down!
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