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
Could Have Been Better..
Member Name: angelboouk
Date: 10/04/13, updated on 10/04/13 (104 review reads)
Advantages: clean and well maintained, play parks, lots of lovely animals to see, pandas, monkeys and penguins!
Disadvantages: the bigger animals were no where to be seen, food not great, expensive
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 :)
Summary: we won't rush back
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