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Chester Zoo. Great place to visit.
Member Name: mcfcdave12
Date: 20/04/13, updated on 24/06/13 (55 review reads)
Advantages: Great place to visit. Great range of animals. Kids will enjoy it.
Disadvantages: Can be quite expensive.
Over the past year Chester Zoo seems to have become my day trip of choice. I have been four times in the space of eight months and have enjoyed my trip every time. Luckily my girlfriends, sisters fiancé is a zoologist that runs his own safari tours and there isn't anything he doesn't know about animals, although I'm trying my hardest to find something.
Not only is Chester Zoo a fantastic day out it is an important educational tool for children to learn about different kinds of animals and the fight against extinction that some of them face. According to my zoologist friend by the time my son is grown up zoos will be the only place that some species still exist.
Whenever I have been to Chester Zoo it hasn't been that busy. The zoo is open all year round from 10am except on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. It usually stays open until 5.30pm giving you plenty of time to get around the zoo and still manage to see every exhibit.
Adult tickets range from £14.50 to £18.00 depending on the time of year. Discounts are available for students or senior citizens. For children that are three to fifteen years old the price varies from £11.00 to £14.00.
You can also buy group or family tickets. A family ticket is for two adults and two children and are priced at £45.50 to £59.00 so they don't really offer a massive saving and don't help if you have more than two children. You can also book in advance if you have a large group that want to visit. If you buy your group tickets in advance you can receive a discount of up to 30%.
Infants that are two and under get in free.
Tickets can be bought online or you can buy on the day. If you want to buy group tickets on the day you don't get as much discount.
Annual memberships are also available. My girlfriend and I bought a joint annual membership for £118 or it is £69 for a single adult membership. If you buy a membership you receive additional benefits. One of those is members days. This gives you the opportunity to invite up to twelve people to the members day and they can get into the zoo for half the price. In 2013 there are currently three members days scheduled.
A membership card also gets you entry to eleven other zoos around the UK.
The zoo is very easy to find and isn't situated in a busy area. It hasn't been busy when I have gone but I have heard of massive tailbacks on bank holidays so if that's when you plan to visit get yourself there early. As you arrive at the zoo parking is free.
After leaving your car and making your way to the entrance you will arrive at the ticket office and the membership and adoptions centre. There is a gift shop (save it for when you're leaving) and there are toilets just in case you have had a particularly long trip. The toilets are always very clean as is everywhere else around the zoo.
ENTERING THE ZOO.
You will enter through the turnstile and will receiver an information leaflet with a map and other info about different events at the zoo. Make sure you keep hold of this, especially for the map. There is a lot to see and it can be easy to miss something and it might be a long way to walk back.
Everybody else on entrance seems to head straight on or go left. We usually head right through the bird sanctuary because it is a little quieter going that way. Going through the bird sanctuary leads you to two of my favourite animal at the zoo. The painted dogs and the black rhinos. Don't forget to pay the meerkats a visit whilst you're around this area as well.
The other good thing about starting your tour through the bird sanctuary is that most of the main attractions will now be towards the end of your visit rather than visiting them straight away.
The Zoo is quite large and can involve quite a lot of walking. Everywhere is quite flat and all attractions are accessible to pushchairs and wheelchairs. All paths are clearly marked and well sign posted. Although there is a monorail that takes you on a birds eye view of the zoo I've never been on it but I'm sure its worth the ride.
THE MAIN ATTRACTIONS.
The painted dogs are always a must see. Sometimes they are up and about and feeding time in interesting but sometimes you will catch them indoors when they are having a bit of a siesta. If they are indoors they can be a little disappointing as the small huy can get quite crowded. Nonetheless I think they are beautiful to look at.
The black rhinos are also a good attraction. Last time I went a baby rhino had been born so I managed to get some pictures of mother and baby together. Again depending on the time of day and sometimes the weather the rhinos can be either indoors or out. Even if the rhinos are indoors you can still get some good pictures.
There are the Asian Elephants. I usually go here more towards the end of my visit. The elephants have a huge paddock to walk around in. Again recently there has been a couple of new additions. It's always nice to see the babies walking around with the huge elephants. Not only can you watch them outdoors there is also a tropical house that you can walk around and get closer to them.
If you don't like the dark or more to the point, don't like things flying around your head in the dark then don't enter the fruit bat forest. Hundreds of bats are housed in here. Like I say it is dark and you can lose your bearings slightly and trust me some of the bats to come a bit close as they fly around you. I would recommend you go in though.
Once you go into the realm of the red ape you can't help but fall in love with the orang utans. Sometimes they will come over to the windows to check out the people that have come to visit them. Access is up a walkway which is quite difficult to walk up if you have a pushchair or wheelchair with you but an elevator is provided. The realm of the red ape also houses a variety of amphibians, reptiles and other mammals. The huge reticulated python is a must see. The ape house does get very busy so take your time going through because there really is so many good things to see in there.
The Jaguar house is an exhibit that I can take or leave because I have been disappointed nearly every time I have been in there. What I will say first of all is that the Jaguar house includes a sloth. I find them fascinating. I don't know why, they really don't do anything but I find them quite calming to look at. They really don't have a care in the world. I have only ever seen the Jaguar once on my first visit. It was running around going mental. An absolutely beautiful creature. Chester Zoo claim that the Jaguar House is the biggest and best in Europe but if you can't see the Jaguar then what's the point. Maybe I have just been unlucky.
Other attractions are the lions, the chimpanzees that can be quite mischievous and make sure you visit the giraffes. There have recently been two baby giraffes born at Chester Zoo and they really are quite beautiful. The red pandas are also a personal favourite of mine.
I have only really touched on a few of the animals around the zoo but there is so much more to see I would be here all day trying to tell you about them all so apologies to all those animals I haven't mentioned.
Chester Zoo belongs to a number of UK, European and international organisations, including the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).
These organisations co-ordinate to create breeding programs for endangered species from all around the world. When you consider that I have already mentioned Orang Utans, Giraffes and Black Rhinos that have been born at the zoo this year you will realise just what good work the zoo do.
It is good to know that not only are you buying entry into the zoo you are helping with conservation work that takes place all around the world. Without orginisations like Chester Zoo a lot of species will become extinct so I think they should be proud of the hard work they do all over the world.
ADOPT AN ANIMAL.
I couldn't finish without mentioning the adopt an animal scheme. At Christmas I adopted the red pandas for a present for my son, you can buy either an adult or junior adoption pack. For the price of £50 you adopt the animal of your choice for the period of one year. This money goes towards the upkeep of the animal over that period. Ajunior adoption pack includes:
* Two Admission Tickets that can be used at anytime during the year of adoption (each ticket is valid for one adult or two seniors/children)
* Cuddly toy
* Your name displayed on a 'Thank You' plaque near your adopted species (by 20th of following month)
* One complimentary copy of our Z magazine, packed with conservation news and zoo updates
* Thank you letter
* Thank you card
* Animal stickers
* Image of your adopted animal species
* Personal adoption certificate
* A fact sheet full of amazing facts about your chosen animal
* A puzzle sheet.
PLACES TO EAT.
Around the zoo there are plenty of places to have something to eat or grab a drink. Unfortunately I find them to be too busy and too slow. Last time I went to the zoo we popped into the main restaurant I it was hammered. People were literally pushing in front of one another to get to tables.
My recommendation would be to take your own food and drink. There are picnic areas and table dotted around the zoo or you can eat on the move. Far more convenient and less chance of getting into a punch up. (I'm exaggerating a little there). Not to mention the money you will save by making your own butties.
IS IT WORTH IT?
Although I think it is quite expensive for a one off visit you can't complain about the variety of animals that are housed in the Zoo. You will definitely spend the full day there and I can guarantee you'll enjoy it. I find it harder to believe that there are many better zoos in the world, never mind the UK.
Summary: Excellent zoo for adults and children.
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