Newest Review: ... kids being rather upset. We visited Blackpool Zoo last year and the range of animals was much better. In Edinburgh Zoo, there are no elep... more
I want to live like a koala!
Member Name: marymoose
Date: 28/04/09, updated on 28/04/09 (497 review reads)
Advantages: Koalas, lots of animals, well maintained
Disadvantages: Very sad seeing the larger animals, expensive
On 24th April 2009 I was supposed to be walking on fire at Edinburgh zoo. Unfortunately with less than a week until the event it was postponed until October due to low numbers.
---So why was I going to do a firewalk anyway?---
Although I'm not a member of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) I do support them having adopted the four moose at the Highland Wildlife Reserve in Inverness which is affiliated with Edinburgh zoo. I haven't yet met these moose as Inverness is a bit of a trek (although I will get there eventually) but I have a silver adoption and apparently my name is on their enclosure.
As a result I get invitations to various events, and the firewalking challenge was one of them. Was very disappointed though to hear it wasn't going ahead having raised about £200 for the RZSS - oh well, fingers crossed it does go ahead in October and that I can do it then.
---We're going to the zoo---
Although the firewalk was cancelled I was still very eager to visit the zoo, because I really wanted to see the koalas. Edinburgh zoo is the only place in the UK which has koalas, and I've not been lucky enough to get to Australia yet. I wasn't really bothered about anything else, it was only a couple of months ago I went to Chester zoo.
So, I decided that hubby and I would visit the zoo as soon as we arrived at Edinburgh before checking into our hotel.
To find the zoo follow signs for City Centre Attractions - basically you'll get to the zoo before you get to the city centre. It all seemed a bit confusing getting us into Edinburgh as one of the lanes disappeared on a roundabout with no warning leaving us in the wrong lane so we took a 10 mile detour (as we then took another wrong turning as hubby was in a bad mood!)
The postcode for your Sat Nav (if you have it and if you want to trust it) is as follows - EH12 6TS
We had to pay £3.50 to park, although got a car sticker for the privilege - not that hubby would want stickers on our cars windows though. The Car park is on a bit of a slope, so you might want to leave your car in gear. It's then a walk down again to the entrance (unless you're a member and can go through a special door - Oooooh!
We entered the admissions area, and were greeted by a member of staff who wanted us to get the special (more expensive) admission rate - however she was in no way pushy about it.
Currently (April 2009) normal admission costs £12.60. However, if you spend £14 you are giving a donation to the Budongo Trail, and can also Gift Aid your money. Now usually I would have done this, but having already been quite let down by the zoo (with the firewalk cancellation) I just wanted to pay the standard price. And really £12.60 isn't cheap as it is! I should have looked around for some discount vouchers I think!
Admission is free for the under 3s, and currently standard admission is £8.50 for 3-14year olds. Up-to-date prices and concessions can be found on the website.
Information about opening times can also be found on the website - they are open every day of the year except Christmas day!
We didn't see all of the animals in the zoo by any means. We weren't trying to. I imagine that when we have children we'll make more of an effort to make our money's worth, and to see everything!
The main priority was the koalas, so we headed up towards them, seeing various animals on the way - Flamingos, Sea Lions, Ring-Tailed Lemurs, Pygmy Hippos among others. The walk towards the top of the zoo (it's on a hill) can get a bit steep at time, so those who don't want the walk might prefer to go up using the Hilltop Safari which goes from the bottom to the top at various times. I imagine that at peak times there would be quite a wait for this though!
While the zoo has evidently tried it's best to make conditions as good as possible (and clearly a lot of money has been spent on the zoo's upkeep), the saddest thing I think was seeing the polar bear, and that really put a dampener on the whole of our visit. The poor bear was just pacing up and down. Apparently in the Autumn she (Mercedes) is being moved to a 4 acre enclosure in the Highland Wildlife Reserve (to be near the moose) which will be a lot better. However, I think the damage has already been done. Similarly the tiger looked so depressed, as did various other larger animals (hubby decided we wouldn't even look at the lion). It sparked conversation between hubby and I (a rare thing!) about the pros and cons of zoos. At the end of the day it's probably better for children to watch a documentary about Tigers in the wild than to see one behind some glass. I think zoos can be very valuable for research and conversation, but where the bigger animals particularly are concerned it just seems wrong.
Many of the enclosures appeared to be empty. On closer inspection many of the animals were just hiding. However I can imagine that some children might get a bit frustrated!
When we arrived at the koala's enclosure (there are two of them) we found that they were asleep. So, we (I!) decided we'd go back at 3pm when they were giving the koala talk. I wasn't going to be satisfied just seeing a sleeping koala hidden behind a Eucalyptus tree!
Meanwhile we walked to the top of the hill (there's a good view from the top!), seeing various animals including wolves, and zebras, then made our way back down towards the penguins seeing camels and reindeer (among others) along the way.
The penguin enclosure was pretty big with various different types, and hubby got some nice pictures of them - I do like my penguins! Then we looked round the monkey house, before heading back to the koalas.
For more details about what animals the zoo has then visit the website - I should mention perhaps that there are no elephants or giraffes (probably for the best with space issues), so don't visit if that's what you want!
There are various talks and feedings throughout the day - probably well worth making a point of seeing these when visiting with inquisitive children. We caught part of the penguin talk although missed the parade. The only thing I was bothered about was the koalas though. Two of the zoo's staff gave a talk about koalas while another was feeding them - it was great to see the koalas up and eating - apparently it's the most active they ever are, and we got a couple of nice pictures. Honestly, I could live life as a koala, looks fantastic - sleep, eat, sleep more! Anyway, I was happy after that, and hubby and I decided to head off to our hotel.
We didn't go into the Budongo Trail which is the big new feature at the zoo, although we did see some chimps from the outside, it does look like it's quite a big enclosure. In retrospect we probably should have gone in as it is the zoo's big thing! Mind you sometimes (no matter how good the conditions) it seems that much sadder seeing Chimps in captivity as they are just so similar to us. I certainly felt a bit like that in the monkey house - it's when you see their eyes I think. But anyway, hubby wanted to head off!
At peak times there will be lots of little refreshment booths open. However, not while we were there. We found we had started to get a bit peckish, so we visited the Oasis Café. We both had burgers £2.50 each), a packet of crisps(£1), and soft drinks (about £1). Burgers weren't wonderful, but they hit the spot! There was a nice indoor play area for small children in there.
Mansion House which is a big house (unsurprisingly!) at the zoo has a restaurant apparently. It is also available for weddings and functions - I imagine that would cost quite a lot!
There were lots of activity areas for children, and I imagine that it gets absolutely packed in the summer months. We were wise to go during a school day I think! Mind you I imagine it would be nice to take a picnic to the zoo on a nice day (not to mention then not having to fork out for zoo priced food!)
There's a nice gift shop with your usual overpriced gifts - I bought a koala magnet for the fridge for £1.50 (with my pocket money from hubby).
Although we weren't actually there very long (probably 2 hours if that) we could have spent longer - in fact I would have spent longer if it wasn't for hubby - I do feel for him with the amount of zoos I've dragged him round! You could easily spend a full day there if you were going to see everything, and make a point of listening to the talks. So, while it is expensive, you probably could get value for money. However, despite the koalas, I wouldn't say it's the best zoo I've been to by any means, and I have to say that we both left feeling a bit uneasy about it all really.
I realise I could have said more about the zoo and what it has to offer, but this review is based solely upon my experience there!
For more info visit www.edinburghzoo.org.uk
Summary: Worth a visit, but hubby and I are rapidly going off the idea of zoos...