* Prices may differ from that shown
Last week, my sister asked if we would like to go to Edinburgh Zoo as a birthday treat for my niece (who turned 7 at the weekend). She was desperate to see the monkeys as she is obsessed with them so yesterday, my sister and I, her three children (10, 7 and 4) and my son (4) headed off to the Zoo. This was my third visit to Edinburgh Zoo but my last visit was 14 years ago as part of a school group. Here are our thoughts on our trip.
~Edinburgh Zoo - Essential Information~
134 Corstorphine Road
0131 334 9171
Edinburgh Zoo is accessible by car, bus and on foot. There is limited car parking priced at £4.00. Buses stop outside and there are quite a few Lothian buses which service the Zoo. Service 12, 26 and 31 from Waverley or Haymarket train stations stop outside the Zoo as does the 100 Airlink Service. On our way to the Zoo, we got off the train at Haymarket and hopped on the Airlink bus which arrived at the Zoo within 15 minutes. It cost £4.40 for two adults and 2 children (over the age of 5). The two under 5's were free. On the way back, we used the 26 bus service and it cost the same for a trip straight into the City Centre. It is very easy to find the Zoo.
Edinburgh Zoo is open 365 days per year.
*April - September : 9am-6pm
*October and March : 9am-5pm
*November - February : 9am-4.30pm
Last entry to the Zoo is 1 hour before it closes. Edinburgh Zoo is very hilly but fully wheelchair and pushchair accessible throughout. There is a Holiday Inn located directly beside the Zoo and there is the option to hold a conference or even a wedding within the Zoo.
Edinburgh Zoo tickets can be bought online at www.edinburghzoo.org.uk or at the entrance reception. There are various ticket packages available and they automatically include a 10% donation which can be taken off at your request. The prices including the 10% donation are as follows :
*Adult : £16.00
*Child 3-15 : £11.50
*Under 3 : Free
*Concession : £13.50
*2 adults/2 children : £49.50
*2 adults/3 children : £59.95
*1 adult/2 children : £35.00
*1 adult/3 children : £45.50
There are discounts for larger groups. We worked out that the best value for money for us was to purchase the 1 adult/2 children ticket (x2) which totally £63.00 (minus the donation). We arrived at the Zoo at around 10.30am and it was very busy. The Zoo is spacious enough for many visitors to be walking around or viewing the animals at any one time. There are toilets located around the Zoo but some were much cleaner than others.
During our visit, we found the Zoo to be quite well organised. Buying tickets was a simple and straight forward experience as queues are well managed. The staff that we encountered during our visit with friendly, well presented and knew their stuff which we appreciated. We didn't see many staff in the actual Zoo area which I found unusual. We were given a map and asked if we would like to see the Pandas - of course we would!
Edinburgh Zoo is huge and full of (at times) rather steep slopes. It is a little bit like a maze as we constantly turned corners to be met with another enclosure here and there. The map wasn't a great deal of use to us to be honest! There is a lot of walking to do but the views are highly impressive from the top of the hill. There is a safari bus that takes visitors up to the top but we didn't make use of this - the exercise done us good! The Zoo, as a whole, appeared to be clean and tidy which is very important when it comes to housing animals. There are a few feeding demonstrations through the day.
Edinburgh Zoo is (supposedly) home to over 1000 animals of various types. They are located all over the Zoo and there is information plaques at the various enclousures allowing us to learn more about the animals. The enclosures appeared to be spacious and safe enough for each animal which is always a bonus as they have plenty of room to run about and still have shelter from the elements too. The Zoo website promises that you will meet a wide range of animals.
*Mammals - the Asian lion, chimpanzees, the zebra, the Queensland koala and the Sumatran tiger (to name a few).
*Birds - Chilean flamingo, the Gentoo penguin, scarlet ibis and the Victoria crowned pigeon.
Unfortuantely, we were rather disappointed with the animals. We worked out way around the Zoo and whilst it was quite cold, the lack of animals resulted in the kids being rather upset. We visited Blackpool Zoo last year and the range of animals was much better. In Edinburgh Zoo, there are no elephants and no giraffes for a start. We took a slow pace walking around the Zoo but we could have been around the enclosures within an hour maximum.
I was sort of hoping that the Painted hunting dogs wouldn't be out as to be honest, their appearance scared the hell out of me but they were and they looked vicious. Thankfully, there was a rather large fence between us but I was still terrified! We headed up further and were able to see the penguins which we absolutely loved. The penguins aren't doing their parade at the moment as many are keeping their eggs warm. This was an amazing sight and we spotted an albino penguin was unusual. The children particularly enjoyed watching the penguins from a lower area in the Zoo as we were able to see them under water.
It took us quite a while to walk up to the top of the Zoo which is mainly fields and grassy areas. We saw some small, dead mice which looked to have been run over with the safari bus - not pleasant. Whilst we enjoyed the walk up to the top, it was very cold and tiring! We had a rest and the views were just amazing especially as the mountains in the distance still had snow on them. Unfortuantely, we didn't see much in the way of animals. Most grassy enclosures had no animals in them so standing on the viewing platforms proved to be a pointless task. To be fair, if it hadn't been for the impressive views from the top, our walk would have been a total waste.
As we headed back down, we actually jumped with excitement as we finally spotted some large animals - the zebras! Oh they were lovely but we couldn't get anywhere near them as they were at the bottom of the field. The big cats are supposed to be in this area but despite spotting the information plaques for them, they were no wear to be seen. We weren't happy as they didn't appear to be in their houses either - no lions, no tigers. Very disappointing.
We did see some other animals but were unimpressed that the bigger animals were no where to be seen. My son was delighted to see the flamingo enclosure as he absolutely loves the 'mingos'. The pelicans were equally as gorgeous. The children are fans of the meerkats and enjoyed seeing them in their enclosure (which they could escape from no ploblem). One particular meerkat put on a fab show and we half expected it to start talking like in the advert!
The Sun bears were absolutely stunning and only babies by the looks of it. There were three pygmy hippos lying snoring in their enclosure. The real reason for our trip was the monkeys and they didn't disappoint. Edinburgh Zoo is home to various monkeys including the squirrel and capuchin monkeys, the small monkeys and also the chimps and gibbons. They were fabulous to watch and so comical. We witnessed a rather playful drill monkey annoying a female drill and getting a ticking off from the Daddy - cute and very funny!
We were looking forward to seeing the giant pandas as we had watched them on the panda cam on the Zoo website. Visiting them is included in the price of your ticket but you do need to book a time slot to see them. We were lucky that on arrival. we were able to book a 2pm slot to see them. We arrived at 1.50pm and there was already a large queue. The pandas are a big hit in the Zoo. They arrived at the Zoo in December 2011 and came directly from China on loan to the Zoo.
Tian Tian (translated as sweetie sweetie) and Yang Guang (translated as sunshine) are nearly ten years old. We were informed that Tian Tian has her own extra space at the moment as she is preparing to breed so she may not feel like coming out to play. We were guided through the viewing room and I found that it was a little cramped as they took quite a lot of people through at a time. The guide told us a little about the pandas and this was informative. Unfortuantely, Tian Tian didn't make an appearance and Yang Guang decided to jump into bed for a snooze just before we arrived - he looked very comfortable and super cute. Well worth the wait.
Okay, so there was a good range of smaller animals to see at the Zoo but more focus could be on the larger animals in my opinion. We didn't even see the rhino. I would understand if the larger animals were hiding in their little houses but they were not visible at all. We did witness a few lovely birds in our journey through the Zoo but spent very little time in the controlled climate, bird house as there wasn't much to see at all. The children became a little bored with not being able to see many animals and didn't enjoy it as much as we had hoped. The animals did look happy though some areas were quite smelly as you would expect.
There is a lovely picnic area outside the estate house which looks beautiful. We had planned on taking a picnic but it looked to be rather cold. There are vending machines dotted around the Zoo but they are expensive. We had a small tub of Ben and Jerry ice cream (£2.60) from a machine. There are kiosks around the park but there didn't seem to be very many open. I would have expected them to be open as the schools were on holiday and the park was busy.
For hot food, there is a Grill place which was closed. There was a Penguin Coffee Shop which we didn't go in to. The Jungle Food court is located approximately 1/3 of the way up the hill and features a small (well, tiny) play gym which costs £2 for 30minutes. It was absolutely heaving with diners when we arrived and the queue was too much to handle as there was no guarantee of a seat! The food court offers pizza, fish and chips etc and also sandwiches. Prices were around £3.75 for one slice of pizza or £14.50 for a family pizza. Expensive but typical of this type of establishment.
We headed to the Grasslands restaurant which is beside the estate house. As it was classed as a restaurant, we thought it may be a little more 'upmarket' than the food court. We couldn't have been more wrong. It was like a school dinnerhall and looked quite dingy. The floor under our table was covered in food as it was clearly too busy for staff to comprehend sweeping up. There was a small deli counter but we chose to eat from the main food counter.
I found the choice of food on offer to be very basic. The fridge offered lots of juice options and kids boxes (£4.50). The hot food on offer included macaroni cheese, chips, pizza and curry with rice. There was also the choice of baguettes and soup. Very limited. We ordered some pizza with macaroni, macaroni and chips and some extra bowls of chips for the kids as there wasn't much else for them in terms of hot food. We picked up a few rolls too and some drinks. The bill came to an eyewatering £36.00 - extortionate. I had the macaroni and received a small portion. The chips had to be paid for seperate which meant that my meal cost nearly £8.00. It wasn't overly hot and was pretty bland. We were disappointed but the staff had very limited English and it would have been pointless complaining. It filled a rather small hole.
There are a few play areas within the Zoo and we spent quite a while in them despite it being cold. Two play areas were only suitable for children over the age of five which was fine for half the brood we had with us but left the other half bored silly. We found a larger play park near the bird house and the older children were able to play around whilst the little ones had a rather small play frame to play on. They had fun. There is also a huge wooden frame which children and adults can walk along whilst supported with harnesses. My sister, being overly protective, decided that neither of the elder children would be participating but it did look safe and well supervised.
This wouldn't be a Zoo without a gift shop. Conveniently located as you are heading out the exit doors, the shop is spacious and crammed full of expensive treats for children and adults. There is a huge section dedicated to the the giant panda and you can buy a panda with a tartan kilt on! Clothes are available but quite tacky looking, sweeties, stationary and lots of mugs, snowglobes (£3.00 for a gorgeous snow dome) and books etc. Plenty of teddies too. The children had some spending money from their grandparents and I had promised my niece that she could pick something for her birthday treat. I spent £15 on two cool bottles for Boo and my neice and a gorgeous monkey teddy for my niece. My sister spent a little too. They accept cash and card.
The Zoo allows you to adopt an animal and information can be found on their website. There is an educational hall within the Zoo and I can remember going in for demonstrations and talks when I visited with the school. The website is very informative and they also have an online shop if you want to buy Zoo treats.
My sister bought the tickets to the Zoo and the train tickets but we split food etc and managed to spend quite a bit of money. It was an expensive day out and whilst the children found some aspects of the Zoo to be appealing, they said they wouldn't rush to go back - the bank balance can rest easy then! I can't say that I would hurry back either. We spent around 4hours in the Zoo and were rather bored at times. We were quite eager to head back to the City Centre for some shopping as we had seen all we could at the Zoo.
It scrapes four stars as I would like to see more bigger animals and better food.
Thanks for reading :)
When my mum and I planned our trip to Edinburgh, we had a list of things we wanted to do. Edinburgh Zoo was not on that list. However, as I found myself getting up quite early and going out for a wander on my own once we were in Edinburgh, it occurred to me that instead of just having a walk, I could actually go somewhere specific for the morning - such as the zoo.
Edinburgh Zoo is in the Corstorphine area of the city, not far from Murrayfield stadium. There are a few buses which stop at the entrance to the zoo, which you can catch from Waverley or Haymarket stations.
I had got up really quite early to ensure that I got to the zoo for opening time. There was one reason for this: having checked prices and how to get there on the zoo website the day before, I discovered that in order to see one of the zoo's main attractions, the giant pandas, you had to pre-book tickets for a set time. These tickets had to be printed at home, and this was a problem as I didn't have access to a printer. The website stated that a limited number of panda tickets would be available at the zoo every day, on a first-come first-served basis - and I was determined to be first there. Adult entry to the zoo costs £15.50, but there is no extra cost for the panda ticket. I was waiting outside the door when the zoo opened at 9am, and I got a ticket to see the pandas at 9.30am.
One of the most important things to note about Edinburgh is that it is on a hill. And I don't mean that there's a bit of a gentle slope in the middle - the whole place is a hill, and very steep in places. The paths are all quite wide and in good condition; I saw a lot of parents with pushchairs who seemed to be managing fine, but I think pushing a wheelchair up that hill would be very, very difficult. Equally, anyone has mobility problems but does not use a wheelchair would struggle to walk round the zoo. Fortunately, the zoo runs a Safari Bus which takes you round quite a lot of the zoo, including to the very top point, but it doesn't pass all the animals. I didn't take the bus, and I don't recall using it on my childhood visits either, but I think it is a good service to allow everyone to enjoy their day out.
Speaking generally, I have mixed feelings about zoos. Most do very good conservation work and raise awareness, but on the other hand I feel animals shouldn't be kept in captivity. Saying that though, I have always seen Edinburgh Zoo as being a particularly good zoo, with good enclosures and doing a lot of good work. The animals mostly have appropriate enclosures of a reasonable size (obviously nothing compared to the space they would have in the wild, but reasonable for captivity). The enclosures are all in good condition, and there are a lot of visible staff, either caring for the animals or undertaking maintenance. The only exceptions are the big cat enclosures. I think they are really quite small, and the Amur Leopards pace back and forward under the viewing glass all the time; they were doing that on my recent visit, I have a vague recollection of seeing them like that on my last visit 6-7 years ago, and someone else has mentioned seeing the same.
Edinburgh Zoo has a wide range of animals to see, ranging from the popular big cats, pandas and rhinos, to lots of cute little ones you might never have heard of. I won't go through everything I saw, but just mention a few of the highlights for me.
The giant pandas are obviously the star attraction these days; I wonder how the penguins feel about that, after years of Edinburgh Zoo being famous for its penguin colony (which, incidentally, is a bit scattered at the moment - the penguin pool is being upgraded so the famous penguin parade is off, some of the penguins are elsewhere in the zoo, and others have gone for a holiday at other zoos). With the timed entry to see the pandas, you get about 20 minutes. The area around the enclosure has a Chinese theme, but is fairly tastefully designed. When I saw them, the pandas were in their indoor enclosures - they were just waking up. Yang Guang, the male, rather obligingly sat down facing the viewing windows and proceeded to give a display of how they eat bamboo, while Tian Tian, the female, stayed in her bed in what the keeper said was a typical panda pose. All the time the group was looking at the pandas, the keeper was talking to us - he was excellent, engaging, very informative and full of interesting information about the species in general and the quirks of these two in particular. The keeper showed us the outdoor enclosure as well, and explained that although bamboo has been planted all over the zoo to provide a future supply (currently it comes from the Netherlands), they can't plant it in the pandas enclosure, because as soon as a shoot appears above ground, the pandas eat it without giving it a chance to grow. When the pandas arrived there was a lot of talk about the research projects which would be undertaken by the zoo in conjunction with their Chinese counterparts, but what I saw on my visit was awareness being raised of these beautiful animals. All the visitors were really interested in what the keeper was saying about the pandas, and there were plenty of questions for him, from young and old alike.
I was determined to see absolutely everything in the few hours I had, so having finished with the incredibly cute pandas, I set off at a brisk pace, armed with my zoo map. On my way from the entrance to the pandas, I had seen the African Painted Hunting Dogs, which were fascinating to watch. They loped around their large enclosure pretty quickly, and with a surprising grace. Their markings are beautiful. But what really stole my heart was when I was in a little glass walled hide watching them run around, one came to a halt at my feet and had a really good scratch at his neck with his back leg, just like any pet dog (or cat for that matter) would do.
Edinburgh Zoo doesn't have elephants or giraffes, but they do have rhinos. It being a cool October morning, the rhinos were nose deep in their heated indoor pool when I saw them. They looked very comfortable, and you could see the steam rising off the pool. A couple of days before I went to the zoo there had been an item on the news about the keepers at the zoo using an app on an iPhone to measure the rhinos heartbeat, but there were no iPhone-wielding keepers around when I was there. Maybe mornings are when rhinos should be avoided...the smell in their shelter was ripe shall we say, and there was an explosion of bubbles and noise from the rear end of one of them while it was lounging in its pool.
The meerkats are, of course, among the cutest animals in the zoo, and very popular with kids these days. But because I was walking quite swiftly I reached their enclosure before any families did, so I got to admire them all alone. They are fascinating little creatures, always alert, with sentries looking in all directions.
As always, I was keen to see the big cats. The tigers have an enclosure which probably really suits them, with lots of things to climb and hide behind, but which doesn't make it easy to spot them. The male rather obligingly went for a stroll while I was trying to spot them, and he really was a beautiful animal; I love tigers, they are so graceful. The lions also had a reasonable sized enclosure with plenty of trees and so on, but it is more open than the tigers one so they were much easier to spot: having a nap in the sunshine, looking very like large versions of domestic cats.
The remainder of the big cats are in much smaller enclosures, as I mentioned earlier, which I don't like. Still, I did enjoy spending some time admiring Mowgli, the male jaguar, who was lounging on a wide branch and looking very like a slightly overgrown Snoopy, my black cat who likes to think he is a jaguar.
The zoo is a nice place to walk around, with plenty of plants and trees, posters and educational exhibits for children. The paths and open areas are all very well maintained, and all exhibits are easily accessible, with plenty of viewing space. I really enjoyed my walk around the zoo, although I was really tired later from what was a brisk climb up a steep hill. The hill is worth trekking up to the top though (or taking the Safari Bus); not only will you see the African Plains area with animals such as zebras, and then continue on to the giant anteater and lion areas, but you get a fantastic view of the city.
I didn't have breakfast before I went to the zoo, thinking I'd get something there. That was easier said than done. Following my trusty map, I tried a cafe and a couple of kiosks at around 10am - which were all closed. I then traipsed through the Budongo Trail, the chimpanzee house (which has loads of interesting and educational exhibits for kids), to find the cafe on the other side of it; I didn't see any chimpanzees, and the cafe was shut. I had been avoiding the largest food place, the Grasslands Restaurant, which is smack bang in the middle of the zoo, thinking it wasn't going to be somewhere for a snack, but eventually I gave in and went there. I got myself a tuna panini and bottle of 7up for around £7; the panini was good, but it was more than I wanted and cost more than I wanted to spend.
I went into the gift shop on the way out, and I was pleasantly surprised by the prices. Half the stock is panda-themed, so I bought a very pretty panda keyring for myself, fudge in a panda box for my partner, and a smart panda pen for my mum - each was only £3. I would have expected the keyring to have been £5 elsewhere; later that week I saw a keyring of similar quality for £10. I collect keyrings in case you're wondering about this fixation on them.
I really, really enjoyed my morning at Edinburgh Zoo, even though I was there on my own. It was definitely one of the highlights of the trip for me, and I am very glad I decided to make use of my early mornings. I have enjoyed Edinburgh Zoo as a child, in my early twenties with my partner, and now on my own and perilously close to turning thirty. I also know that my mum and gran really enjoyed it when we were there years ago; Edinburgh Zoo is a fun day out for all ages.
Whilst in Edinburgh I purchased an Edinburgh pass, which I think, was great value for money. We purchased the two day pass for £39.00 each this allowed us access too many different attractions around Edinburgh. Pretty much everywhere I wanted to go was included in this pass and top of my list was the zoo!
Like I said the zoo was on the top of my 'must see' list to get there it was only a small bus journey from Waverly Train station. It was around 15 minutes on the bus and it also dropped you right outside the zoo and when you needed to be picked back up it collected from outside the zoo too. The buses run every 10 minutes or so, so there isn't much waiting around. There really is so much to say when it comes to the zoo, so will try my best to fit it all in!
Once arriving at the zoo it really didn't look all that big from the front entrance, to gain access you either walk up the ramp or take the stairs. Then it is through the main glass doors to the ticket booth, like everywhere I had been in Edinburgh the welcome was lovely. The lady attendant was very informative, she told us about the giant pandas and that we were only 10 minutes from the next showing so she booked us up there and then at no extra charge.
So all we had to do was have our passes scanned and we was all set to go, she gave us a map of the zoo and wished us a pleasant day around the zoo. Stepping out into the zoo for the first time it was raining! So on the map we took the undercover route to the pandas. From the entrance it was almost a 10 minute walk to the pandas so we got there just in time for the showing, it was clearly sign posted which made it so much easier.
I didn't know what to expect, I was just excited to see them! The panda tour is guided and the gentleman there told us all about the pandas. Sadly as it was cold and wet the pandas where locked in the rooms because it would have been to cold for them out in the enclosures. There is one male and one female panda at the zoo and we were able to get a close look at both of them. Seeing them in real life just shows the beauty the television misses.
The panda tour lasted around 15/20 minutes all of which was very informative, once all finished it was time to explore the rest of the zoo. Cheerfully the rain had slowed down so out came the map so we could follow where we going, as it may have looked small from the outside but inside the place was massive! As it was still drizzling we took the route with the most shelter.
Due to the cold weather I was expecting most of the animals to be tucked up in their shelters, however surprising most of them were out and about. (brave fella's!) The park wasn't busy at all which I really enjoyed as we could walk around in our own time and stay looking at animal enclosures for as long as we wanted.
Walking around the park I took note of how clean and well kept it all seemed, there were plenty of seating around the zoo. Only some of them are undercover or less you go sit in one of the eateries.
There were also a good amount of toilets jotted around too, all of which had disabled facilities and baby changing access. During our walk we spotted a few attendants making sure it was clean, they were also getting the leaves up to hopefully stop anyone from slipping. Outside the leopard enclosure there was a member of staff sweeping the leaves up, the animal was just watching him and drooling! I guess he must be the one that feeds him too?
After around an hour around the zoo the rain had completely stopped which was good for us as there was still so much to see! The zoo offers a safari bus that you can hop on which will also take you around the zoo. Brilliant for some of us that are less mobile, or if you have younger children this is a great way to explore.
One thing from the zoo I will never forget was the Lions den; he wasn't out in his enclosure but sat in his den. There was an opening you could look through to see him. He was huge! Again the television just doesn't capture this and he let out an almighty roar, so loud that everywhere went slight. This really did send shivers down my spine, despite how cute he looked!
If you are planning a trip to Edinburgh Zoo I would fully recommend comfy and sensible footwear. As it is hilly and one patch in particular is on the steep side which is where I almost went I my bum! It's the top side path coming down from the lions.
Another part of the zoo I really liked and spent a little time there was the African Plains exhibit, this is a large field where you can watch the animals go by. There is a walkway and a mini hut look out centre at the end. It is lovely to just sit and watch the animals be free (well as much as they can) the animals that wonder there are Grevy's zebras, some different types of deer's and some cattle.
I was also looking forward to visiting the reptile house as I really love snakes but sadly this was closed for refurbishment. However there was still so much to see so I wasn't all that disappointed and I think my partner was happy about it!!
The zoo itself it set over 82 acres of land and has now be running from July 1913, they work hard with helping conservation work for endangered and rare animals. Which I think zoos should do, as much as we would like to see animals in there natural environment sadly it is not always possible.
There are three main places where you can get food from if you are feeling hungry -
Penguin Coffee Shop
Jungle Food Court
All of which have been themed to suit its name, there are also kiosks around the zoo where you can get sweets, popcorn, burgers, flatbreads etc if you didn't fancy a full meal you can snack from the kiosks. Please note that kiosks only run weather permitting and the day I was there I couldn't find any of them open.
The animals within the zoo are broken down into three sections - mammals, birds and reptiles. Now I can't really list every single one so here is the link where you can see all the animals they have. www.edinburghzoo.org.uk/animals/ I personally was surprised they have so many! All of which look like they are being cared for well.
At the zoo they run a few attractions -
Giant Pandas - Tian Tian and Yang Guang, these are at the moment the only two giant pandas within the uk. This was the first thing we did when in the zoo and it was lovely to see them up close.
Brillaint Birds - I really liked this one, it is a walk through bird aviary. I loved seeing the colourful birds just flying around, certainly not like the ones I see in my garden.
Budongo Trail - This is where you can see the cheeky chimpanzees, I must admit as lovely as it was seeing them. They must have been on a mad one so to speak as they was running around like crazy and making so much noise!
Sun Bears - This really wasn't much of an attraction if I'm honest it is just seeing the bears in the newish enclosure. But still there was super cute but smaller than I thought they were going to be.
White-faced saki Monkey - This is another newish walk through enclosure the zoo has done. Pretty much my least favourite as I found them a little freaky!
Living Links - from the web site it states an indoor/outdoor facility that houses capuchin and squirrel monkeys. I guess I missed this as I don't remember seeing it.
Around the zoo it also has 'Zoo Gardens' which sadly was closed off at the time of our visit, but after I came to see the animals more so!
As with most places there is a gift shop! I really liked the gift shop here; yes it was on the pricey side but the items were just beautiful with all the different animals! I treated myself to a few items one of my favourite being a chimpanzee bookmark which changes and you move it.
There really was just so much to see, we spent just over four hours walking around the zoo but could have easily stayed the whole day. They were doing activities for kids in one of the eateries while we were there. It is well worth checking their website if you can before visiting as it will tell you what special activities are on.
An adult ticket costs £15.50 and a child ticket which is ages 3 to 15 years will cost £11.00. I personally feel the price is about right from what they offer around the zoo.
The Zoo operates different times through out the year normally 9am till 6pm but closes earlier during the colder months so do check before going. Another thing it is always worth checking daily events as they offer different items to do through the day at different times.
I personally loved my time at the zoo and would fully recommend it to all if you are ever in Edinburgh. Everything was well sign posted, so it was easy to find what you wanted to see. Lovely and clean around the zoo and all in all the animals seemed to be cared for well and seemed happy.
Five out of five stars from me!
If needed you can also hire wheelchairs from reception.
The Royal Zoologicial Society of Scotland
134 Corstorphine Road
OK, so first of all I ought to put this review in context.
My wife and I are Platinum card holders at Colchester Zoo which I think is probably the best zoo in UK.
Why, may you think did you even bother with Edinburgh then? Well, Pandas for one and because as a platinum card holder of Colchester we get to go to Edinburgh Free once a year. We were up in Scotland so we thought we'd give it a go.
As we arrived the Scottish summer was doing it's usual worse. Rain was falling in biblical style. Not the Zoo'z fault and entrance is clearly designed with this in mind (you can get undercover very quickly). We got in quickly and were booked into see the Panda's quickly too (10 minute slot's), but first the toilet was need. Very impressive loo's by the entrance. Nautical theme like something out of a posh hotel.
My little girl was now bursting at excitement to see the King penguins (a model of which is outside the zoo - and they are incorporated into the logo) and the Panda's (thanks Kung Fu Panda!) so we legged it up the super steep hill that the Zoo has been built on.
We got to Panda's and were ushered straight in. Great except it was just "Panda" (one was having medical checks - did the guys on reception not know this?) and all we got to see for 10 minutes was the Panda's dirty bottom. The viewing is from one side only, so we couldn't move around for a better view.
Disappointed, we moved on to find the Penguins, but...No Penguins! What! One panda and no Penguins and NO WARNING!!! Grrr! We went to get a coffee to get out of the rain in (as if to taunt us) the Penguin cafe. 2 girls with little idea what they were doing served us at a snails pace (whilst chatting amongst themselves). A queue of other frustrated customers formed behind.
Having seen very little we moved again to look at something. Wild Boar wahoo! We've seen something! Then up past the education centre which is surrounded by vending machines with all the evils of the world for kids to buy, to look for more.
I think the main problem for us is that we are spoilt at Colchester. They have Lions, Giraffe, Rhino, Penguins, Tiger, Wolves, Elephant etc etc etc. At Edingburgh they have Panda's and a whole gift shop seemingly devoted to them - A one trick Panda!
If animals are not your thing (and I'm being serious there) then Edinburgh Zoo is very well kept. Beautiful lawns, house etc, but if you're looking for animals you might be better off at Loch Ness!
The weather was cold and dull on the day that me and my partner in crime decided to go to the zoo!! I have really enjoyed going to zoos in the past so I got my wellies on determined that the rubbish weather wasn't going to spoil our day. It was easy enough to find a car parking space and we walked straight up to a counter so there were no long queues to wait in. We were allocated a time to see the pandas 2 1/2 hours after we purchased the tickets. I wasn't sure we would still be there because from the outside the zoo seems rather small. It's a little bit deceptive because it was fairly small at the bottom of the hill. When following the paths it seemed to go up, up and up further right to the very top of the massive hill! This is what filled out the time for us because I am not very fit.
We seemed to be looking into quite a few empty cages that supposedly had animals in. And other cages where there were animals, they looked like their life and souls had been drained out of them. At times I actually felt cruel and sad paying to look at these poor caged animals. In that respect it was very different to the other zoos I have been to. The spaces they were kept in were small and confined with not much for them to do. What shocked me the most was the monkeys. They were so unresponsive and tried to ignore people, turning their backs to passers by or avoiding eye contact. The monkeys didn't even seem playful with each other.
Out of all the animals the pandas seemed quite happy in their environment and the staff had plenty of information to give about the pandas. It's unfortunate that their breeding attempts for this year failed.
After seeing the pandas we went for a warm cup of tea and a chocolate muffin in the Cafe. The muffin was expensive but worth every penny!! The centre was filled with runny soft chocolate. In the cafe was a kids play den, I think it costs £2.00 to get in. For one little boy the temptation was too much, his mum left him at the table whilst she was paying he made a break for the play area. It didn't take her long to figure out where he had disappeared. The Zoo has a few outdoor play areas for kids too so its quite family friendly on a warmer day.
I personally didn't enjoy this experience for the reason that I genuinely don't think that the animals there are happy. It just doesn't seem like much of a life, they are just existing. I doubt they would display some of the behaviours that they did in the wild.
*This review is based on my personal experience at the zoo and will not just be a list of animals that they show. I'll be talking about my favourite parts and bits that I wasn't too keen on, if you want a list of animals then it is easily accessed on the Edinburgh Zoo website - www.edinburghzoo.org.uk *
My boyfriend and I have a bit of a tradition where we take the other away for the weekend for their birthday instead of buying a gift. We're much more into experiences and memories than gifts anyway, so it's always something that we look forward to. This year, he decided to take me to Edinburgh for the weekend (back in February). He decided on Edinburgh because they are famous for the zoo and he knew I'd never been to a zoo before, but had always wanted to go to one. He booked our tickets and time slot for the Giant Pandas and then before we knew it, Saturday February 18th had arrived and it was time to set off for the zoo!
The zoo couldn't have been easier to find, our hotel was on Princes Street in the centre of Edinburgh and only a short 2 minute walk to the bus stop near Waverley Station. After waiting a minute or two for the bus, we hopped on and informed the driver that we weren't sure where we were going. He pointed out that buses in Edinburgh have screens with all the upcoming stops and how long it should take to get to them, so we seated ourselves infront of it and 10 minutes later, we were at our stop!
The Zoo currently has many banners outside that are covered in pictures of the Giant Pandas. These are obviously a new, very exciting edition to the zoo and I'll admit that I squealed like a little piggy when I saw them!
We walked up the 15-20 stairs into the ticket hall/gift shop and handed over our ticket printouts. The scanned us in, handed us a map and told us that we would have to be at the panda enclosure 20 minutes before our allotted time because there would still be a large queue to wait in.
We had a quick look at the map and decided on heading right first and just making our way round the zoo, ending at the panda enclosure roughly an hour and a half later.
To start off with, it seemed like my excitement was a bit overdone and it was going to be a slow day. We came to a sea lion, some flamingos and a lemur enclosure that all seemed a bit dull. As beautiful as the animals were, they didn't seem to be doing much while the child inside of me was crying out for them to play and jump around! I was actually saddened by one of the lemurs in particular, it was kept alone in a darkened hutch. It was one of the cutest little things I'd ever seen and after paying him some love and attention (through the glass, mind you), he became a bit more active and we got some great photos. We had a good laugh at the little guy and then decided to move on up the trail. Don't skip out on the solo animals though, they just need a bit of love!
We then came to one of our favourite enclosures, the Gibbons. I had no idea what a Gibbon was and just thought they were monkeys, but they were the most hilarious, endearing things I've ever seen. There must have been around 20-30 of them all kept in the humungous cage enclosure decorated with ropes and trees for them to play and swing on. Luckily, we had a beautiful day of sunshine so looking up at the Gibbons swinging around was made even more pleasant. They are fast little animals that throw themselves around without a care in the world and I highly recommend paying them a visit.
It was then that we went through the Chimpanzee trail, it included a little education centre that you could walk through and learn about the species, but it was more aimed towards children so after reading a few plaques, we headed upstairs to get the best view of the chimps. Unfortunately, we just got a glimpse of all their bums because they were all resting on their platforms, but they were lovely to see nonetheless!
After leaving the chimp trail we realised that we were just in time for the penguin parade, so we hotfooted it over to the penguin enclosure just in time to get a good spot for viewing the parade. The zoo keeper that was narating the parade informed everyone that it was complete voluntary and they couldn't control how many, if any penguins would come out for the parade. Luckily there was one teeny tiny little penguin that wanted to do the parade on the day we were there, so we got to be up close and personal with a penguin! The particular type of penguin he was was only around 1ft high and had some beautiful orange and yellow markings on his face. As I was standing right at the front of the crowd, the little penguin came toddling right up to my feet and I managed to get a perfect photo of him, just as if he was posing for me!
After the little parade we carried on back to the trail we were following, stopping at every enclosure on the way. It was at the capuchin monkey enclosure that I thought I was going to internally combust. These beautiful little monkeys were so incredibly playful and loving towards one another that I just couldn't cope! There were 3 in particular that stood out, we assume it was the mummy, daddy and baby monkey, but maybe it could've been auntie monkey and brother monkey? Whoever they were, they were doing everything for the sweet little baby monkey who was being a bit of a cheeky devil! The bigger monkeys were running off to get food for the baby and then coming back and giving him a piggy back to get him to another part of the enclosure. It was so sweet to watch! I never wanted to leave that bit.
I was very excited about seeing the Koala bears too, unfortunately one of them was out for feeding when we arrived at their enclosure, but just as we were leaving, they brought him back in and we got to him toddling about the trees wiggling his cute little bum!
After climbing a huge hill, we came to the big cats and zebras etc. I can't say I was too excited about these as I have a phobia of Zebras and the big cats had enclosures so big that you could barely see them! This is obviously a good thing for the animals wellbeing, but I was little bit miffed that I couldn't see the lion.
The top of the hill (and by hill, I mean the mountain that the zoo is situated on!) had some toilets and a cattle enclosure. We stopped at the toilets for a widdle, took some photos of the view over Edinburgh and then made our way back down the tremendous hill. I'd be lying if I said my legs weren't sore. I had no idea that the zoo was on such a hill and considering I have problems with the anatomy of my feet and walking downhill, this was going to be quite troublesome!
We realised at this point that we were cutting it fine for getting to our panda time slot, so we just headed straight there, having a quick look at each animal on the way.
After arriving at the Giant Panda enclosure exit, a kind zoo keeper pointed us in the right direction where we queued for roughly 15 minutes. The panda enclosure is directly underneath the penguin enclosure, so we still got to see all the penguins swimming underwater and giving us a bit of a show while we waited. There were also zoo keepers giving brief talks on the pandas which helped pass the time too.
After scanning our panda tickets again, we were granted access into the panda enclosure along with around 30 other people. Our group was assigned a lovely zoo keeper who took us into the indoor enclosure and gave us a long talk on the pandas while we all "oohed," "aahed" and took plenty of photos. The flash must be turned off when taking photos of the pandas due to their sensitivity, and we were surprised to find that they are actually in two separate enclosure across from one another. We then found out that they are actually solitary animals so they would only be together when Tian Tian (the female) was fertile, which is only 36 hours out of the year! They perform a urine test on her every morning to check her fertility.
After seeing Yang Guang (the male) playing with his bamboo and rolling around the floor, we were shown outside to their outdoor enclosures. This time, the outdoor enclosures are next door to one another, separated by a wall which has a tiny metal fence in it that they can go up to if they want to interact.
It was here that we were told how the male pandas show their manliness and sexiness if you will. They get on their front paws, do a handstand and pee as high into the air as they can. The higher the pee, the sexier the panda!
We were allowed to spend around 25 minutes in the panda enclosures, looking at them and learning all about them before being moved on to let the next group in. We then decided that after taking some photos of the penguins we would just head back to the gift shop and get some souvenirs and a bit of warmth - as beautiful and sunny as it was, it was incredibly cold!
We purchased a few keyrings and magnets then left the premises just before closing time, very happy with the day we'd just had. We were both like children on the bus back into the city centre, giggling and smiling at our photos of the animals and remembering all the silly little things they did!
I highly recommend a visit to the zoo if you've never been before, or even if you have! Just be aware that it is on a steep hill and people with walking issues may not be comfortable with this. I give the zoo 5 stars as it was a great day out, even for us at 19 and 20 years old. I did feel a little bit sad for some of the animals in the smaller enclosures, but overall I had an amazing time and was kept all giddy and excited by the playful little buggers!
My boyfriend paid £15.50 each for our tickets, which included a time slot to see the pandas. This was great value for money in my opinion as all of the money goes towards upkeep of the zoo and the animals. Children of 3-15 years old are £11 for entry whilst under 3s are free! There is a concession ticket for £13 too.
You're able to buy family tickets and discounted group tickets, but this information is all available on the website given previously.
I also found out that there are zoo keeper experience days to be had at the zoo, we didn't do any of these but I would absolutely love to do one in future! Maybe for my next birthday :).
Thanks for reading!
I want to go to the zoo my daughter kept asking me so I booked up to go to Edinburgh zoo for my birthday as my daughter wanted to go. It was quite expensive at £13.95 and a child aged 3-15 £9.90.This is cheaper than alot of zoos such as blackpool so its not really that expensive plus when money goes towards animals welfare im never against paying abit more. There are quite afew buses that go to the zoo and take about 20minutes from the city centre.When we got off the bus there was a huge que to get in so i thought wow it must be brilliant to be so busy but i was disappointed. There are a variety of animals to be seen but they dont have elephants or giraffes. You can either get the shuttle bus round the zoo or walk and i would recommend if your going with children or elderly relatives to get the shuttle bus as theres alot of gradient walks round the zoo and it can be very tiring. We went when the weather was quite cool so in the hot summer weather it would be draining and exhausting. I didnt get the shuttle bus so Im unaware of how much it is but from the price of a coffee being afew pounds i cant see it being cheap. I think we went on a bad day as there was only the little rockhopper penguins as the large penguin pool was being cleaned. I do feel the layout of the zoo is abit higgledly piggledy as the animals were never able to be seen as the viewing areas were in poor locations and after walking up big hills to get to them it was very disappointing especially for my daughter.The high light of the zoo and what made it worth going was the pandas,you have to book the panda viewing online in advance which some of our party didnt do so they missed out on the amazing experience of seeing the pandas which was a shame but the panda viewing is free so be sure to book a place. I have the female panda in her pool as my profile picture it was totally lovely to see them. When leaving the zoo if you have children and arent wanting to page large amounts of money on souveniers then by pass the gift shop because although its large it doesnt contain a variety of prices for different budgets so everyone could get a little something its not its all expensive.
Now i love all animals from the every small like my pet cockroaches to the very large like a sperm whale but when i first went to Edinburgh zoo when i was only 6 years old it wasn't the cheerful experience it should have been. Every 6 or so years since i have gone with my partner and it the care the animals get has steadily gotten worse granted the cafes,talks,shop etc are miles better each time but the animals that should be in huge enclosures are stuck in tiny cages (like the jaguar and lynx) while the animals that don't need a massive amount of room(like the pygmy hippos) have a enclosure twice the size of the larger animals.
Thankfully the polar bears are no longer at the zoo because i have never seen a more depressed animal in all my life it was kept in a concrete enclosure with a moat of murky,dirty water with bits of rubbish floating in and generally just lay there looking very depressed.
The zoo does have its good points the painted hunting dogs and lions both have very large enclosures with viewing platforms and the African plain at the top of the park is huge with zebras and other African originate animals. The 2 main good points about the park is the world famous penguin parade where the emperor penguins take a leisurely stroll around a field near their enclosure to the delight of young and old, the bodongo trail is the other fantastic feature along with the living links they study primates and explain the links between us and them. Seeing the primates playing is a bonus aswell.
To end i wouldn't recommend Edinburgh zoo there are definitely better zoos in the uk that have more suitable enclosures for the animals and Edinburgh is on a hill side so if you are going wear the right shoes i advise that on experience.
I absolutely love going to zoos and Edinburgh is one of my favourites. My now boyfriend (and long time best friend) lives in Stirling which is just over an hour away from Edinburgh so once a year when I go to see him, we always take a trip to the zoo. I'm quite sure he's bored of going now every single year but he knows it makes me happy so doesn't mind taking me. My most recent visit was in April this year (2011) so all information is correct at the time of this review going live. As there are so many different animals at the zoo, I wont go over all of them as it would take forever!
== The Animals ==
== Large Cats ==
The large cats section of the zoo is one of my favourites and remains so each time I visit. This section can be found quite far up the hill but this makes it possible for the cats to have large enclosures with plenty of space for them to roam around. The lions are the only cats which have an enclosure surrounded by fence instead of glass. I was quite lucky and got to witness a little bit of a lion fight between females and the male lion roaring really loud and trying to stop them. Everyone watching was fascinated, just as I was. Usually the lions are just lying around so it made a change to get a bit of action.
Other big cats that can be seen are jaguars, tigers, leopards and Asian golden cats. Due to the foliage in the enclosures, some of the animals couldn't be seen which was sad but the leopards were quite entertaining. One came right up close to the glass and stayed there for quite some time. Unfortunately, there were a lot of children banging on the glass with their parents not doing anything to stop them so the leopard got a bit scared and ran off. There are clear signs all over saying not to bang on the glass and the leopard was beginning to look really agitated. It's a real shame when some people cant follow zoo rules as it spoils other people's experiences.
== Penguins ==
Every day at 2.15, there is a chance to see a great penguin parade. Even though I have been to the zoo many times before, this is the first time that I was able to see this. I have always been in colder conditions so the parade has been cancelled a few times due to this but the weather this time was lovely and I was excited to see what all of the fuss was about.
The penguin parade is voluntary so there is never a guaranteed number of penguins that will actually take part. I think this is great that they are not being forced to come out of their enclosure. For the parade I witnessed, about 10 penguins came out and had a stroll around and some even tried to wander off away from the others. A couple of members of the zoo staff walk the penguins around a circular path and talk about them at the same time.
The actual enclosure for the penguins is massive and split into two halves. I think the penguin enclosure is probably one of the best in the whole zoo due to the size of it. On each side, the penguins have a large area of flat land as well as a large amount of water for them to swim in. On my visit, many of the penguins were laying around keeping their eggs warm so there wasn't too much activity from them and I guess this had something to do with the amount of penguins taking part in the parade.
== Koalas ==
Edinburgh Zoo is the only zoo in the UK that is home to Koalas and they are part of a breeding programme. The zoo holds male koalas that are too young to be in the breeding programme as well as koalas that are now retired from breeding. The koalas can be found in the Australian exhibit and while we were there, a staff member was stood outside explaining all about the animals and their habits. Although this is not available for all exhibits, I was glad that it was for this one. The koalas are one of the reasons why I love Edinburgh Zoo so much because you cant see them anywhere else in this country so it was nice to be able to learn more about them.
== Other Animals ==
The zoo offers a large selection of other animals such as birds, ocean animals as well as a large amount of mammals. Most of the animals are extremely interesting but there are also some less entertaining exhibits such as the zebras. I didn't go and see these this time around although I have done before. They are situated right at the top of the hill and to be honest, I just couldn't be bothered to trek all of the way up there this time around.
The monkeys are a great species to visit as there are quite a few different varieties housed in the zoo. The Bundongo Trail is where the monkeys can be found and this was another area where staff were educating visitors about their habits and about the species in general. The Bundongo Trail has both indoor and outdoor enclosures so you are able to see the animals in a variety of settings and doing different things. There are also interactive games and displays to help visitors learn more.
One of the newest additions to the zoo are sun bears. These can be found where the polar bears used to be and their enclosure is really big. Again, this is another exhibit which has both indoor and outdoor parts as well as a heated pool for the bears, a waterfall and toys for them to play with. These are fascinating creatures and has insanely long tongues. There is also an interactive zone here to do with that.
If you would like to see the full range of animals that this zoo has, you can find an A-Z list here: http://www.edinburghzoo.org.uk/animals/a-z/
== Shopping at the zoo ==
Edinburgh Zoo offers many things to buy while you are there. In the gift shop, you are able to buy a large range of souvenirs such as post cards and soft toys but you are also able to adopt animals and become a member of the zoo. There is something available to suit all price ranges and I think that if I lived closer, I would probably become a member. I would love to be able to go here a couple of times a year.
Dotted around the zoo are small kiosks that sell snacks and drinks but there aren't many places to get a real meal. In fact, there is only the Jungle Café that serves meals but I have never eaten here before but they do offer a range of both hot and cold foods. If you fancy a small snack like a cake and a coffee, you are better off heading to the Penguin Coffee shop which is situated right near the penguin enclosure. Prices for food and drink are quite expensive as is normal for anywhere like this. I try to not buy any food or drink while I visit the zoo and always try to get something beforehand to save on money.
== Admission ==
Child 3-15 years: £11.00
Children under 3: Free
2 adults, 2 children: £47.70
2 adults, 3 children: £57.60
1 adult, 2 children: £33.70
1 adult, 3 children: £43.60
All tickets include a donation which you are able to opt out of paying at the till. Even though I went on the Easter bank holiday and the zoo was very busy, I only had a 5 minute wait until I got through the queue. The staff at the tills are extremely quick and efficient and it was so good that I didn't have to wait long at all.
== Opening information ==
Edinburgh zoo is open every single day of the year from 9am, including Christmas Day, which is fantastic. Not everyone celebrates Christmas so I think its great that some places are still open and especially places as fun as this. The zoo opens at 9am all year round but has different closing times for the different seasons which are:
April - September: 6pm
October and March: 5pm
November - February: 4:30pm
The last entry to the zoo is an hour before closing time although I could never do this. There is no way I could see everything in such a small amount of time and it just wouldn't be worth the entrance fee.
== Contact Information ==
tel 0131 334 9171
fax 0131 314 0384
== Overall ==
Edinburgh zoo is huge but still very enjoyable. You do need to make a fair bit of time to get around this zoo due to its sheer size and the fact that it is on top of a massive hill but so long as you don't rush around it, it can be a relaxing day. Edinburgh zoo has a lot of great animals to see but there could still be some improvements. There are other animals that I would love to see like a reptile house in addition to everything else but overall, the entrance fee is very fair for what you can see here.
One of the times i visited was when poor Mercedes the polar bear was still here and that poor old soul was one of the most miserable looking bored creatures I have ever seen.
They are particuarly bad for breeding animals to work as a vistor draw and then culling them. google red river pigs edinburgh to find out more on that one.
Only this year it is working on getting the giant pandas in to be a real money spinner yet at the same time it has been threatened with the removal of its operating licence after inspectors found it had failed to address a series of animal welfare and safety failings that date back at least five years.
At the same time it is spending a fortune on pandas: the big cat enclosure is in a terrible state of disrepair; the sea lion enclosure has several animals were suffering from eye infections; and the main food store was infested withvermin.
In additon to that just what you need when bringing in the worlds rarest bears with tricky needs - problems with the zoo's veterinary hospital.
All of the above inspection findings are fully verifiable via freedom of information documents and other publications.
I recently visited Edinburgh Zoo with my other half and our little boy for his second birthday.
I hadn't been to the zoo for about 10 years at least and so it was a shock to see just how much it had changed.
Everything is uphill even going into the car park. The charge for parking is £3.50 whether you are there an hour or 5 which isn't too bad although with the price of the tickets it can make for an expensive day.
The opning times vary on season April - September is open until 6pm, October and March 5pm and November - February till 4.30pm. Last entry is an hour before closing time.
The car park is large and there is plenty space even for the busiest of days. Once parked you have to walk around to the front of the building which is a nice backdrop for a photo.
On entry to the lobby you can smell the animals which isn't at all pleasant but can't expect much seeing as it's a zoo.
The entry fee is pretty expensive although it does include a gift donation on top of the fee so for adults it costs £15.50, Children from 3 - 15 £11, concessions £13 and children under 3 are free.
However there are exceptions such as if you have a yearly pass you gain free entry and parking. They have family pack tickets at a reduced rate as well as voucher codes on certain websites whci can give you a discount. For anyone who works with Edinburgh Council and has a staff benefit card 20% can be saved by presenting it on arrival.
There are seperate tracks for wheelchair and pram users which takes you round the back of the park to view the animals. I found using this trail that a lot of the enclosures were empty or had birds enclosed.
To see any more interesting animals you had to walk a long way uphill just to catch a glance. The monkey house smells really bad and is hot and sticky making it not too much of an enjoyable experience however you can get a close up of the monkeys if they are in the pen.
The penguins have a parade on where they walk through the park although we didn't see that this time. They were cleaning out the penguin area which was really dirty and being hosed back into the lake, possibly the reason why the underwater camers to view the penguins wasn't too clear.
The rhinos are kept in a small enclosure with only a small wooden fence encasing them. I didn't feel safe with that small amount of protection, if they had tried to ram the fence it would have came through on the first blow and no-one would have been able to stop them. As it was they were sleeping.
The new sun-bears were a bit of a dissapointment. The window which allows you to view them was covered with trees meaning that nothing was visable. From the bottom end of the pen however you could see them a little more clearly.
By the time you hae walked all the way up to the viewpoint to see the lions the exhaustion will have kicked in. It is a very steep hill and trying to push a buggy and toddler really gives you a workout. The viewpoint itself isn't very impressive as the lions tended to stay down the bottom near the enclosure window but it's a decnt view of their whole enclosure..
There are plenty of cafes but the prices are extortionate and when I was there last time and we had the food it was greasy, cheap and badly made and so we took our own packed lunchh and there is plenty of outdoor benches to eat it. There are drinks machines, ice cream stands and toilets dotted throughout the park so you are never too far away from them.
There are also sign posts detailing where the various animals are and you can check the map given to you on arrival to see what you can do.
At various times throughout the day there are activities such as feeding, penguin parade and a touching area dependant on the season. There are various other activities to be explored.
Since my last visit they have removed the reptile house which my other half was dissappointed about.
They perform weddings and birthday parties at the zoo in the manor within the grounds. Information is providedon request but around the bad smell I can't see it being an enjoyable experience!
To exit the zoo you have to go through the gift shop which has a lot of little knick knacks to remember the day out. They are generally over priced but a nice way to end the day.
I think for the price it isn't as clean, well kept or stocked as it could be. With a lot of effort it could be a fantastic day out but for now I feel it just isn't quite there.
Edinburgh zoo is open every day of the year roughly till about 5 or 6 oclock depending on the season, but the last entry is often an hour before this. Overall the zoo is a great day out. Sometimes the animals are hard to see and you may get the impression that there are many empty cages. One part you won't be disappointed with is the Budongo trail with the largest chimpanzee enclosure in Europe. Within the last few months 11 new chimps from Bergen zoo have arrived. This is providing a huge level of interest and excitement due to the introductions between the two groups. This is well worth a visit even if your not too interested in the chimps I'm sure you will be when you leave. Some of the chimps are great with people and often Cindy and Ricky will come say hello at the windows. This enclosure is definately a highlight of the zoo, but the penguins, tigers and leopards are also well worth a visit.
I visited the zoo with two other adult friends , it has been some time since I ha visited ( childhood) and now returned some 30 years later
First of all I was shocked at the entry price £15.00 each which included a donation , however if your taking a family its all ready mounting in price
There are toilets after the payment area , but there will be a long wait as its only one cubical each for both sexes
it should be noted that the zoo grounds are very hilly and although there is a free 'bus' which takes you around , I didnt feel the zoo was very disabled friendly , however its mainly a terrain problem rather than access
We went to a cafe near the penguins on the grounds where processed food is the name of the game , hot dogs chicken nuggets and burgers galore , they offer a 'meal deal' which includes french fries and a soft drink for 4.99 which in my opinion was a total rip off , the staff were obviously not prepared for a busy day as every one had to wait for french fries , they seemed to have only one fryer
imagine then 3 x 4.99 £14.97 for the majority of it to go in the bin !!
My best advice is take a pick nick if going as there is plenty grassy areas to sit on a nice day and save money
Some of the animals are very hard to spot , this can be due to the fact they are either sleeping or camouflaged to hide
The penguins have to be of course every ones favorite and I was pleased to see they still have the parade , however on speaking to some of the keepers I was shocked to find that some irresponsible parents allow their brats to hit the penguins not how I was brought up
Many people would say that zoos are detrimental to the animals , however when you go round and see just how many animals are near extinction , through poaching then , the fact the zoo cares for the animals can only be a good thing
There is a wide range of animals to be seen , and it can be a good day out with some stunning views from the hill top view point , but be aware it is quite a walk as I mentioned
Parking is available at the hotel next to the zoo at £3 .50 per car
The gift shop is small but has an adequate range of animal related ( and expensive) in m,y opinion toys and gifts
The zoo is a must visit for young and old but not as I remember it as a kid
Back in July my partner and I took a trip to Edinburgh for a concert, it was the middle of summer yet it rained constantly almost putting a dampner on the whole weekend yet we tried to keep our spirits up with a trip to the zoo.
I had read about the zoo long before our little holiday and on hearing that penguins were present, well that was it! we had to visit. I'm a huge penguin fan and would travel miles to see them in the flesh so to speak.
We visited the zoo on the Saturday taking the bus from the City Centre. Now we knew it wasn't going to be a cheap day out but even we were shocked at the entry prices once we got there. £14 each! Still we were there now and thought it was surely going to be worth it and a fun day out.
The zoo as others have said looks wonderful from the outside and still does as you step inside and excitely collect your tickets. The zoo itself however wasn't quite the wonderful day out I had hoped for, we did the whole zoo within about 3 hours which for the money we paid didn't impress me much.
It was easy to find your way around the zoo, it has to be said, with clear sign posts and a map handed to you on entry to help you find your way around. I find it odd that the zoo was built on a hill. Walking up it was a killer on the knees and we gave up near the top when the rain started again.
Not all the animals advertised were easy to spot, we do indeed wonder if some of them were actually there at all! I also agree with other posters that the polar bear seemed to be in a sad and depressed state.
The highlight of the trip for me of course was the penguins, we spent a good hour there watching them and also staying for the famous penguin parade. This was very well organised with the staff holding back the crowds in a calm and steady manner to allow the little group of penguins who choose to come out, have their walk. It was magical to see them so close up and bought a smile to my face for days.
We had some food and drink at the zoo, in one of the cafes that was absolutely packed with families naturally being the middle of the holidays. This wasn't a problem though we did have trouble for a while finding a seat. The food was decent enough (we had a sandwich each and chocolate) and cost what we expected for such an establishment, around £10 for the two of us.
When we were ready to leave, having seen most of the zoo and starting to get a little annoyed with the weather, we headed to the gift shop to collect some souvenirs of our trip, after all we live in Dorset and don't know if we'll ever visit the zoo again)
I bought a toy penguin, a penguin note book, a penguin fridge magnet....can you see a pattern here?! which we cost me £16, not cheap by any means but I think it was worth it to have a nice reminder of our day.
We had a nice day out, yes nice, not fantastic. For the money we spent we would have expected something a lot better but we're not complaining. We have some good memories from our visit and the wonderful experience of being so close to the penguins will stay with me forever (though it will never beat the day I had in Berlin Zoo in 2003 with my Dad, when I got to stroke a baby penguin in it's enclosure)
A trip to the zoo is one of those days out that kids always love, the last time I visited Edinburgh zoo was 10 years ago with the toddler group. The toddler group used to go there every year, on my first visit I became upset at the conditions of some of the big cats, especially the snow leopard which paced back and forwards in its enclosure looking utterly miserable. The animal was still there pacing a year later and I decided to boycott the zoo afterwards. I had read in the newspapers that the zoo had made massive improvements over the past few years especially to the big cat enclosures so I decided to put my misgivings aside to accompany a group of friends to the zoo for the day to celebrate a friends birthday.
The first thing that anyone visiting Edinburgh zoo needs to know is that the zoo is located on Corstophine Hill which is extremely steep. There is a free bus which runs from the entrance to the top of the zoo every half an hour but we missed it and decided to walk instead. My legs were aching by the end of the day but the view from the top of the zoo is stunning and worth the walk as you can see the whole city of Edinburgh and over to the Pentland hills.
Edinburgh zoo is best known for the penguins and since my last visit the penguin family has grown in size with bigger enclosures. We particularly enjoyed viewing the penguins swimming underwater through a viewing window set into their pool. We also saw the daily penguin parade where the birds are led through the zoo and enjoyed the talk by the keepers. They have three species of penguin at the zoo, the king, gentoo and rockhopper penguins, the rockhopper earning the nickname of the punk penguin from us because of the brightly coloured feathers that spike from its head.
The big cats were one of the most memorable parts of our visit, the enclosures seem to have doubled in size in the last ten years. The pallas cat looks like a massive fluffy housecat, the tigers look content and my friend managed to use the body language she uses with her domestic cat to lure one of them from his resting place to the front of the enclosure to say hello. The problem is that snow leopard is still there (either that or it is a very similar animal) and is still pacing the same path along the front of its enclosure
Another animal we enjoyed seeing was the wolves which live in a huge enclosure at the top of the hill and there is a viewing shelter to let you see them up close. Other animals of note are the comical little bushdogs, the huge rhino, the tapir and the animals in the African plains reserve like the zebra.
A part of the zoo I had really looked forward to seeing was the new Budongo trail which is a chimpanzee enclosure also used to study the behaviour of these animals, it was of special interest to me because I am currently studying evolutionary psychology and I find the cross species insights fascinating, as they say we are just monkeys in shoes! The trail is a fantastic building with state of the art lecture theatres and glass fronted indoor enclosures and a huge custom built outdoor habitat. The problem was that on the day of our visit the only event was a video, there were no chimps inside to watch through the glass and the chimpanzees outside were so far away from the public viewing areas that we could not see them clearly.
There is another smaller monkey house near the main entrance, I seem to remember when I last visited that the building used to be the reptile house. The enclosures seemed small here, the animals being held behind glass but it was nice to get close to the animals.
Something that was really disappointing was the number of empty enclosures within the zoo including the enclosure for the painted hunting dog, Mercedes the polar bear has now been moved to the Highland Wildlife Park and the Scottish wildcat and beavers were nowhere to be seen. There were signs apologising for the empty enclosures, I estimate approximately 15% or more of the animals listed were not present.
There are various eating and drinking points dotted around the park as well as picnic areas where you can eat food you have brought yourself. The toilets are few and far between and even in November we had to queue to use them. The gift shop is brilliant with several funky low cost gifts to remind you of your day.
Overall I was not too impressed by Edinburgh zoo and it will probably be another ten years till I visit again. It is an expensive day out with an adult ticket costing £14 and a child ticket £9.50 and for less money you can visit Blair Drummond safari park and have a much better day. I did enjoy some aspects of the zoo like the penguins but with so many empty pens and difficulty seeing some animals because of the design of the enclosures there were many more we missed. If I compare Edinburgh to Blackpool zoo which I visited earlier this year then the former is pretty poor and does not have the same laid back feel or focus on giving the visitor a great day out. Our day at Edinburgh zoo was simply ok but not brilliant and I think there are far better family attractions in the area.