Zoological and botanical garden. Totnes Road, Paignton, Devon TQ47EU
tel: +44(0)1803697500. Check the website below for more information. „
A few days ago my wife had two grandchildren (my step-grandchildren), boys aged 7 and almost 3, to stay for a few days. Having lived in south Devon since childhood but not having been to the zoo at Paignton since I was quite small, when they said one morning that they were going, I fancied the idea of accompanying them on a long-delayed second visit. We accordingly planned a day out to Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, to give it its full title.
PRICES AND OPENING HOURS
As it was a sunny day soon after the start of the school holidays, we took the precaution of booking tickets online. The admission prices were £15.60 (adult), £10.95 (child 3-15), and free for under 3s. Opening hours vary throughout the year. Discounts are available to visitors with disabilities and to groups of 15 or more. When we went in August, they were 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with last admissions at 5 p.m. - though anyone coming that late would have seen very little for their money. It is open every day of the year except Christmas Day, but has shorter hours in winter, so if you are not going in summer, check the website before deciding on a special trip.
Having left the car in the overflow park at the top of a hill above the zoo, we walked a fair distance, luckily all downhill. The path we took was suitably lined with fenceposts and small mounted speakers playing assorted jungle animal and bird sounds until we reached the ticket office. As we had pre-paid, we were able to bypass the queue, and swiftly marched the youngsters past the inevitable array of badges, cuddly zoo-themed toys and overpriced knick-knacks. It's only fair to mention that a proportion of the proceeds go towards worthy conservation causes, so perhaps I should try and spare any comments about eye candy for children being overpriced tat. There was a guide book for sale at £2.95, but having looked thoroughly at the website beforehand we decided this was probably unnecessary.
THE ZOO ITSELF
The first wild creatures we saw were large numbers of Flamingos on the river and on the banks. The sight of so many in the water and on dry land was quite astonishing. Next we went into the reptile house, where we were fascinated by several tiny species of frogs, mainly the Green and Black Poison Dot, and the Yellow Bonded species. Crocodiles, Iguanas, Pythons and a Malagasy Tree Boa made up the rest of the number in there.
Next we went into the desert area, where we were greeted by the sight of several tortoises and giant cacti. This led us to the island restaurant, where we did not go in but sat outside on the grass with a picnic which we had brought to cut costs. While eating we narrowly avoided being dive-bombed by a hungry seagull. After the children had cast longing glances at the Jungle Express or miniature train around the lakes, we treated ourselves to a ride. This cost 80p per person, regardless of age. There was a ten-minute wait for this, as it is very popular, and the seats were quite cramped but the five-minute ride was fun nonetheless.
Most of the animals are in enclosures and fields or paddock areas of some kind, protected from the public (or the other way round?), but an exception was the Ring-Tailed Lemur - or rather, several of them. Several of these little creatures with their long stripey tails and large eyes were running wild across the ground and up the trees. It was a marvellous experience being able to get close to them, particularly as they are an endangered species, confined in the wild to a small area on the island of Madagascar. Naturally there were notices warning people not to try and touch them, or else risk getting bitten.
Next we saw the large apes, including the Orang-Utan enclosure. A baby had been born there only a few weeks earlier and we did not see him, although his parents both came out on view at different times. In the Ape Centre the Gorillas were equally impressive, although at one stage I had to tell off a bunch of idiot youngsters by pointing out that the signs placed in front of us saying 'Please do not bang on the glass' were placed there for good reason.
From this point it was mostly animals along the way. We also saw the Ring-Tailed Coati, a couple of Hartmann's Mountain Zebras grazing on a hillside mini-park with three ostriches nearby, a Collared Peccary, and several Red River Hogs. Next in separate enclosures there were Camels, African Elephants (who had just done their business - someone's roses were in for a treat), and a rather sleepy Cheetah.
I was particularly interested to see the aviary with some rather exotic species of birds, including Hornbills, Trumpeters and Toucans. The latter made us (well, not the kids) think that on a day like that, a can or two of Guinness would have gone down well. But soft drinks and ice creams are readily available, as you would expect.
Next we saw the Tigers, and a family of African Lions, including four cubs which had been born at the zoo fourteen months previously. Finally there were more wetlands and more birds, mostly Egrets and Ibises. Incidentally there are no seals or penguins here; for those you need to go to the nearby companion attraction, Living Coasts, which calls itself Torquay's Coastal Zoo and Aquarium. A joint saver ticket, obtainable at the zoo ticket office, will give you entry to both.
In order to see more or less everything and get the best out of your day, it is advisable to arrive early. We were there just after midday and managed to do a full circuit without rushing ourselves, including a break for lunch, within about five hours, and finished just as the staff were beginning to close up the shops and stalls near the entrance. In addition we had the advantage of a fine, sunny but not excessively hot day. As you can imagine, there is a good deal of walking involved, so wear comfortable rather than smart footwear, and if the weather is very hot, a bottle of water or two in your backpack might be advisable.
A map of the zoo with 'You Are Here' sign is displayed at regular points along the route. In addition to other background information, the website includes a planner which you can print off to help you make the best of your visit. I would recommend it as a very worthwhile day out for the family, especially for anybody interested in wildlife - but booking in advance to get in at once is recommended, as is arriving in reasonable time.
Paignton Zoo, Totnes Road, Paignton TQ4 7EU
Information line 0844 474 2222
We have recently returned from a long weekend in Brixham, Devon and rather than spending the whole weekend on the holiday camp, we made the most of our time to explore the area. Already being the possessor of a Colchester Zoo Platinum card that gave me free entry to various other zoos, we decided that a visit to Paignton Zoo was in order. Paignton Zoo is easily accessible whether via car or public transport and is situated on the Totnes Road, between Brixham and Paignton. We travelled to Paignton Zoo by bus and while we would have been able to get a bus direct from Brixham on a weekday, we were visiting on a Saturday when we had to get a bus to Paignton and then change for the Zoo. One thing that I did appreciate, which is nothing to do with the Zoo itself, is that the buses were all disabled and buggy friendly, meaning I didn't have to remove my two year old son from his stroller.
Paignton Zoo is situated right next to a large supermarket (Morrisons), which is extremely handy for buying snacks and even lunches, meaning that although there are various snack bars and eateries within Paignton Zoo, we did not use them and so I will not be commenting on them. The entrance to Paignton Zoo is well signposted and there is free car parking available for disabled visitors (other visitors can park in the supermarket car park at their own risk), while the bus stops less than five minutes walk from the entrance. The day before we visited Paignton Zoo there had been heavy downpours, meaning that while the Saturday we went was dry, everywhere was more than a little damp and muddy (this is relevant I promise). The majority of this review will now focus solely on our visit, although I will be adding some information about the animals we didn't see.
Entrance tickets can be purchased online, in which case you can enter through a fast track entrance, or on the day at the zoo. We visited on a damp Saturday at the beginning of October, and I must admit I was surprised at the length of the queue to pay. We were in this queue for at least ten minutes, with our general impatience not helped by the fact that only one out of a possible two cash desks were open. Credit and debit cards are accepted for payment along with cash and there was no quibble about accepting my Colchester Zoo Membership card for entry. As well as my two year old son, we were joined by my older daughter, who I did have to pay for. Entry to Paignton Zoo costs £14.45 for an adult, £10.29 for a child (3-15), £11.90 for a senior citizen or student, £45.40 for a family (two adults and two children) and children under the age of three are free. These prices include a donation to the zoo's conversation work and unlike many attractions are the same whether you pay on the day or in advance online.
Although Paignton Zoo opens at 10am each day that it is open (every day except Christmas Day), we arrived a little later than this, with it coming up to mid-day by the time we had made our way through the shop to a door leading to the zoo itself. The fact that this door was not automatic really should have alerted me to the fact that this zoo was going to be neither wheelchair or buggy friendly. With the zoo mainly being set in a wooded area, with some rather steep slopes, rather than being paved the majority of the paths are of the stone chip variety. While this would be perfectly acceptable during extended periods of dry weather, the downpours the previous day left these paths rather muddy and quite slippery in places as this mud combined with fallen leaves. I'll be the first to admit that I did struggle at several points pushing the stroller around the different exhibits and was grateful that two year old Freddy is no heavier than he is. I found that these paths also made it a little more difficult for me to allow Freddy time out of the stroller, he has difficulty in walking and the uneven surface meant that he struggled to keep his balance. Some of the exhibits were under cover, but the doors to these were of the manual variety, meaning that had I been on my own with Freddy then I would have had to struggle to get through them. There is, however, a decent amount of seating, in the form of wooden benches, dotted around the zoo, with many of these benches conveniently placed to observe different animals. Toilets are a completely different story, while there are a few dotted around the zoo, there are nowhere nearly enough and they are not very well sign-posted. In fact, I found the whole of the sign posting to be less than adequate and more than a little confusing.
As we are regular visitors to Colchester Zoo, we did concentrate on looking at animals that were not on display there, which means we missed many out. Some of those we missed out, we did actually want to see, but due to the less than adequate sign-posting we missed them out. Included in these were the elephants and giraffes, which was a little disappointing but I feel that Freddy would have been even more disappointed by the fact that, unlike at Colchester, you cannot feed either of these without paying a rather high supplement. There were many other animals that we missed, including kangaroos, cheetahs, camels and rhinoceros, but I really do think that we would have needed more than one visit to see everything. Paignton Zoo is split into a total of six habitats, desert, forest, tropics, wetlands, savannah, and Primley, with there being different types of animal housed in each area. I cannot comment on any of the animals in the savannah habitat as we didn't get that far, but I believe that we experienced at least some of the animals in each of the other habitats.
By far the most natural habitat would be the forest habitat, with the exhibits being displayed amongst the native Devon forest. Within this habitat there are a huge number of animals and birds to discover, but the highlights for monkey obsessed Freddy, were the Gorillas, Oran-Utans, Gibbons and various other monkeys. For me the gorillas were definitely the highlight of the day and I was very impressed with both their indoor quarters and outdoor enclosure. Within in the indoor quarters there were several of the smaller females, who were actually seeming to be enjoying the attention and even posing for photos. The outdoor enclosure appeared to be a forested island and the Silver Back was strolling around this area. The Oran-Utans have indoor quarters next to the gorillas and then have their own island, which has quite dense undergrowth. I had been warned that if the Oran-Utans were outside then I would be unlikely to be able to see them, but (possibly due to the horrendous weather the day before) they were inside and so we could see them. Also within the forest habitat are the Asiatic lions, which didn't look that much different to the African lions we regularly see at Colchester, except that there are a total of four cubs, who are extremely cute and we watched these feeding from their mother while we ate our lunch sitting on a convenient bench.
The wetlands habitat is where you will find many water birds, including geese, pelicans, ducks and flamingos. I have to be brutally honest and state that Freddy does not have the slightest interest in birds, so we passed through this area fairly quickly, but does include a walk-through aviary, that we did indeed walk through and if Freddy had been more interested then I'm sure we would have found lots to see.
While Freddy is obsessed with monkeys, my favourite animals by far are reptiles and the majority of these are to be found within the tropical habitat, which is an indoor area, that is both hot and very humid. While I have to say that the heat was welcome on that not so warm October afternoon, it did become a little oppressive after a while and I would imagine would be almost suffocating on a hot summer's day. Within this building there are several species of crocodile, including the smallest (Dwarf Caimen) and the most impressive, which is the Salt-water Crocodile. There are also several species of snake and lizards. Seeing as I love reptiles so much, I could have spent all day in here, as I was so impressed with all the animals and their enclosures and what impressed me even more was that among the information boards there were pictures describing the Makaton signs for the animals. This really did impress me, because Freddy is virtually non-verbal and we use Makaton signs with him.
The desert habitat was actually far more impressive than I thought it was going to be, somehow I got the impression that it would be little more than a few cacti. This habitat is actually a very large greenhouse, filled with a huge number of different plants, representing rocky ravine, dry plain and desert oasis environments. Yes there are lots of different cacti and succulents, some impressively tall and some tiny, but there are also lots of lush plants. There aren't that many animals within this habitat, but there are some guinea pigs hiding among rocks (very cute), tortoises and gila monsters in glass enclosures and a vast number of birds flying freely overhead. While neither Freddy nor I are usually impressed by birds, we did appreciate the feeding stations dotted around and the fact that the birds were not afraid of humans and allowed us right next to them.
The Primley habitat is the oldest part of the zoo and far easier to manoeuvre with a stroller or wheelchair than the rest. For monkey lover, Freddy, there were more monkeys to look at, including spider monkeys , but his favourite exhibit in this area had to be the baboon troop who lived on a man-made mountain (that looks similar to the one that used to house mountain goats at London Zoo). This was quite a large troop that included adults, juveniles and babies and it was a lot of fun to watch them all clambering about and interacting with each other. As with all the habitats, there are several information boards at each enclosure, giving information about the animals housed within, their natural habitats, status in the wild and what they eat, all in simple enough language for most children to understand.
As well as the animals there are a few other attractions at Paignton Zoo, but I do have to be honest and state that we did not sample any of them. There is an education centre for school visits, an indoor play area (Jungle Fun), outdoor play areas, a nature trail, miniature train ride and bird displays. There are also many plants around the zoo, including some rather impressive looking giant rhubarb, which is not an edible variety, but if it was one stalk would be enough to feed a family of six or more. There are also several keeper talks held throughout the day and it is possible to meet and feed certain animals at an extra cost, but I must say that I feel the prices for these experiences are a little on the steep side.
As far as eating goes, I really would recommend taking a picnic (or buying one at the supermarket next door) as they is plenty of seating where you can relax and enjoy a meal. If you would rather buy your food at the zoo, then there is the Island restaurant that serves hot and cold food, the Café Bar which serves alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and various snack bars dotted around the zoo. The gift shop is rather unusually placed, being passed through both on entering and leaving the zoo. There is a good amount of Paignton Zoo themed gifts available, with prices ranging from about £1 upwards along with generic zoo gifts and crafts. I bought Freddy a gorilla soft toy along with a postcard and keyring, with the gorilla being a little pricey at a touch under £12, but a much loved toy nonetheless.
As with the majority of Zoos today, Paignton Zoo is not just an attraction where we can see animals, but also somewhere that carries out conservation work, both in this country and abroad and research. In an ideal world there would be no place for zoos, but with so many species endangered and close to extinction, zoos such as Paignton provide an essential resource in both research and breeding.
I'm a little in two minds over Paignton Zoo, I have to admit that the way that they've transformed the native woodland into a habitat for so many different animals is fantastic. But this also makes it quite difficult to see many of those animals and it also makes much of the terrain a little tricky when pushing a wheelchair or stroller or if you have mobility difficulties. While I do genuinely appreciate the amount of thought that has gone into providing the animals as pleasant a home as possible, I do think that with a zoo a balance needs to be made between giving the animals a natural habitat and catering for the humans that have come to see them. As far as I'm concerned, Paignton Zoo has not quite got this balance right, with it being not quite as disabled/buggy friendly as it could be. Even so I am still recommending a visit if in the area, just be prepared for the hills and less than smooth pathways and be prepared to need to take regular breaks if pushing a stroller or wheelchair.
I grew up near Torbay, so many of my childhood memories involve going to Paignton Zoo for day trips, family birthdays and school trips. Everytime I was remarkably impressed, particularly when I compare it to other zoos I have been to.
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, the welfare of the animals is clearly at the heart of everything that the zoo does. The enclosures are large and none of the animals seem miserable or 'captured'. Paignton runs several conservation projects with endangered species; the main purpose does seem to be the preservation of species rather than our entertainment.
However, it is also a brilliant place to go from that 'entertainment' perspective. There's a fantastic range of animals and information about each one, so it's also highly educational. The zoo is well laid out, meaning that one can either plan to see area by area, or wander around aimlessly; either approach works. For more regular visitors, they can focus on one part of the zoo on different occasions, as it is divided up by habitat.
Asides from the animals themselves, there is also an indoor children's play area, with a cafe area for grown ups, several outdoor play areas, an education centre, a well-stocked shop and several food outlets.
All in all this is a perfect place to go for a day out, even for people who are normally made to feel uncomfortable by the concept of zoos.
(From my own review on tripadvisor.co.uk)
Visited for the first time in several years yesterday and found the zoo to be an enjoyable 6 or so hours. The prices had risen a lot since my last visit around 3 years ago, with an adult and a student costing £20.20 in total (we had a voucher from the Totnes Tourist Information Centre and also chose to NOT give the 10% 'voluntary' contribution).
The zoo was quite busy on arrival at 10 o'clock, but it is large enough such that the crowds were fairly spread out after leaving the aviary/lions sections. The majority of animals were out in view, and the majority of cages are spacious and well looked after. There were some new animals - Barbary Sheep for example, but we felt there was a decrease in the amount of monkeys. The information signs were good although we felt it was a bit cheeky to charge £2.50 for a map - fortunately we know our way around anyway. We were slightly disappointed by the new crocodile swamp - it seemed a bit of a waste of space for what was in there.
We had a double beef burger and chips to share for lunch - costing £4.70 which we felt was good value and tasted fine. Later on we had an ice cream costing £1.60 which we weren't so sure about. It was OK but I have had a lot better.
The shop was good and we felt much improved from our last visit. The one part of the zoo we miss is the aquarium section which used to be really good. I would like Paignton zoo to reinstate this or prioritise this as a new attraction. Overall though we still enjoyed the visit and would go again.
I just had a lovely day out at Paignton Zoo. We stayed in Torquay and the zoo was just an 8 minute drive, easy to find with the Tom Tom and signposted well.
There is plently of free parking available. The tickets cost £13.10 for adults and £9.25 for Children (3-15 years old), Children under 3 are free. There is a giftaid ticket option available too. We found some £1 off per adult ticket vouchers in a local free tourist guide, so it might be worth having a look in a few if you are in the area. There is a large gift shop, and places to purchase refreshments throughout the Zoo.
I found Paignton Zoo quite different to any zoo I've been to before, as the animals appear to have much more space and freedom, and the visitors are less likely to see 'caged' animals. The animals all seem happy and well looked after. You do have to be prepared to walk though, although there is a small train to help you get around, you are more likely to see everything if you walk, and it can get bit hilly in places!
The zoo is divided into zones to guide you around the park, these are Primely, Savannah. Forest, Wetland, Tropical Forest and Desert. We did find it a little difficult to get around the zoo in terms of directions, as we didn't buy a map and some of the signposts are a bit inaccurate/confusing.
There are many different types of monkey and loads and loads of birds, giraffes and elephants, rhinos, camels and zebras. The tropical houses have many snakes and lizards, and lots of cute little birds running free, and the new croc house is brilliant, and has loads of information and activities. There are feedings and other activities planned throughout the day, advertised on the noticeboard as you enter the zoo.
I have to say that my favourite animals were the Red River Hogs, very cute and friendly and a little different to what you usually see!
Paignton Zoo... one day just isn't enough! I took my godson who is 1 and a half years old and his brother of 3 years old there today. Thankfully it was a lovely day and the kids were so well behaved that I enjoyed every moment of it. But unfortunately there was so much we missed (animal wise) due to kids taking somewhat longer to walk and look around than us adults as well as them asking to go to the toilet when we are on the furthest part away from any toilets to be seen!
***Where is Paignton Zoo?***
Paignton Zoo is in the lovely place of Torbay in Devon. It was opened in 1923 and has expanded more and more over the years into 80 acres of land full of such an amazing number and variety of animals. It has encompassed the charity of Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust and has the utmost respect for its animals and their surroundings.
***What animals does Paignton Zoo have?***
* Every type of bird you can imagine from small parrots to flamingos and peacocks
* It has lions, tigers, cheetahs, goats, camels, zebras, kangaroos, panda, rhinos
* Bats, small rodents
* Elephants, giraffes
* Crocodiles, tortoises, snakes
* Lots of different monkeys
* And virtually any other animals you can think of (except ones which obviously couldn't survive in such a place like polar bears!)
***Our day out***
What the kids loved the most was the petting zoo and the indoor play area. To be honest 3 years old and under are not terribly interested in many animals unless they are right up next to them in their cage or against the glass.
This consisted of a small enclosed area where children could get up close to small animals and touch them, for example, goats and rodents. Not my sort of thing though as I'm petrified of most rodents!
***The indoor play area***
This consisted of two areas, one for over 5 year olds and another for under 5 year olds and there are tables in doors for the parents to watch their children play. There is an outside play area with slides but this was for older children.
***The miniature train***
Harry (the 3 year old I took) begged me for us to go on the train so despite not wanting to pay any more money for four of us for the day I agreed. It was 70p per person, but after we went on it, I realised it was definitely not worth 70p each since it literally took about 3 or 4 minutes to go around in a small circle and we didn't see any animals on our way around it. Also I had a buggy with the 1 and a half year old (Sammy) so I had to go to all the trouble to take all our bags off it and fold it up! Not worth the effort at all.
***The Crocodile House***
Now this was something I was quite looking forward to. It is relatively new and I haven't been in there before. However I was a little bit disappointed because despite seeing crocodiles, I did not see any one of them move! For all we knew they could have been fake! But I know they weren't.
Dotted around the zoo were very conveniently tempting ice cream places and takeaway booths with your regular chicken nuggets and chips. You can imagine what it was like when the two boys wanted an ice cream each, what mayhem! And to top it off when I saw Sammy in his buggy with ice cream all down him I realised one of his shoes was missing so I had to retrace our steps in order to find it... luckily I did or else it would have been an even more expensive trip to buy him some new ones.
There was also a gift shop placed for on your way out... not a good idea when the fury toys the boys wanted were £8.99 each!!! But in order to prevent any upset I bought them with gritted teeth! The zoo must make a ton of money!!
***And I am sure you are wondering the prices per person into the zoo***
There are two lists of prices depending on whether you are paying an added donation of gift aid which is about £1.50 more per person. But this is the regular list of prices:
Family Ticket (2 adults and 2 children) = £37.50
Adult = £11.90
Children (3-15 years) = £8.40
Senior citizen = £9.80
***My overall opinion***
A nice, enjoyable and full days experience but an expensive one at that! If you want to get around the whole zoo I'd allow a good 6 hours.
To find out more about Paignton Zoo and for directions and a map go onto: www.paigntonzoo.org.uk/
Set in sunny Paignton (in Torbay, aka The English Riviera), there could be no better location for a zoo. This is certainly amongst the best zoos in the country - if not on a world-wide scale. Each year there is something new to look at - this year (2009) saw the birth of three beautiful tiger cubs. Great viewing spots with plenty of space to see them play. See the monkeys swing in a comparitively natural environment, some close enough to touch, although not recommended! There's everything for all ages at this zoo - all my family love it from my 12 month nephew who views from his pushchair to my 78 year old nanna who whizzes around on her mobility scooter (hired from zoo). It is accessible to all. There;s a pretty good, basic restaurant - even better picnic areas which helps cut the cost and is more enjoyable amongst the peacocks and bunny rabbits. Supermarket (Morrisons) right next door - good for buying fresh picnic essentials.
Some parts of the zoo have sea views. Whilst you can spend all day there - it is also in easy reach (2mins drive) from a gorgeous beach and waterpark, (4mins drive from town). Living coasts in Torquay is also worth a visit - and is discounted with your zoo pass.
Entry is £13.60 for adults and £8.80 for children but you can easily make a whole day of it, making it worth the money. Membership is also available which offers free entry anytime once signed up £40.90 / £28.80.
Paignton Zoo is located in a beautiful area of Devon and is one of several excellent attractions in the area. There is plenty to do at the zoo with regular activities such as animal feeding and the bird show which is an absolute must. There are a vast array of animals and provides an educational day out for the children with a lot of information about the animals displayed on boards around the park.
Be warned, you need to wear comfortable shoes, the park is spread over a fairly large area, and even though it is level access (no steps) it is quite hilly. The zoo houses almost every animal you can imagine, including the more exotic, elephants, giraffes, lions and gorillas. There are plenty of places to eat scattered around the park or plenty of benches and tables if you prefer to take a picnic.
In addition to the animals, there are children's play areas, include two soft-play areas, one of which is dedicated to under 5's. There is a good gift shop at the park though it is a little expensive.
Entry pricing is quite complex, Adult is £13.60, child 3-15 £8.80 and under 3's are free. These prices include a voluntary 10% donation so that the zoo can claim gift aid on your entry fee. They do offer concession prices for students, OAP's and Family tickets.
My last visit to Paignton Zoo was about a year ago, it is a great place to visit and unlike some of the other zoos I've visited more than once (like Bristol) it is continually trying to improve.
The latest improvement is a completely new indoor crocodile house with a number of tanks which is well worth a look.
It has a nocturnal house, zebras, rhinos, Indian elephants, lions, tigers, tortoises, monkeys, a reptile house, indoor desert area and a big lake area.
Years ago, (when I was a child) my favourite part was the train ride that took you aroud the lake and saw the other side of the big cat enclosures, nowadays, it's just interesting viewing all these different animals.
There's a study area and several times a day, there's a display of various birds near to the crocodile house which is fun and entertaining.
This is a great place to visit despite being extremely hilly. On my last visit, another improvement that other zoos have not yet developed is that they now provide mobility scooters which can be hired from main reception (but are limited in number). For those that use them, they do get slower during the day as the slopes drain the batteries - and there are a number of bends to watch where you could tip over.
Like the zoo, the car park is on a very steep slope, so it might be worth contacting the zoo first to check parking.
The zoo has a cafe/restaurant and a number of ice cream stalls, and there is a Morrisons supermarket just outside the entrance if you fancy something different.
Paignton Zoo is fantastic value for money - we paid around £25-£30 last year for 5 - for 2 adults, 1 student, and 2 children (one disabled adult), but looking at their website prices have gone up - adults are £13.60, children £8.80 (including 10% support charge). Like many other attractions there are concessions for disabled visitors, students, senior citizens and family tickets.
I love the zoo, but after 3 hours it can be very exhausting - enjoy your visit.
Me and a few family went to Paignton Zoo this week for 4th birthday treat for my niece and what a fab day out it was. Its been a few years since I went to this zoo & it has certinaly grown since I was last there.
The zoo is 80 acres so if you are planning on going then flat shoes are a must, there are also quite a few hills to walk, the zoo offers use of wheelchairs (electric & normal) so if you dont think you can walk around all of it then this is a very good solution.
If you are heading to the zoo you def need to set aside all day, you will never see everything in a couple of hours (we arrived at 10 and didnt leave until 4).
Once you enter the zoo you can choose which route you want to walk (there are several to choose from), we went through the reptile tropics & dessert first, this is where you find the snakes & spiders etc, then onto the crocodile swap (which has not been there that long), then it was the elephants & monkeys & we saved the apes & tigers for last. We where hoping to see the new cubs but they are not on show yet.
There is also a jungle railway which goes around the lake so you get to see all the ducks, swans, pelicans and other wet land birds as well as the tigres & gorillas. Im not sure how much it is to go on this train as we did not use it, I cannot imagine it cost a lot & looks like a fun way for the kids to see some of the animals.
If you keep your eye out when you are walking around you will see information boards telling you about what activities are going on in the zoo that day, feeding times & talks etc, this gives you a chance to see the keepers in action & to find out a little more about the animals.
There are plenty of places to stop an rest your feet, there are also plenty of picnic ares so you can take packed lunch & usually by these are as are play parks so the kids can go and have a run around whilst you relax for a moment.
There is also a restaurant at the zoo is called the Island Restaurant the food there is excellent quality and not over expensive (which sometimes you expect from these places). There are also a lot of snack shops dotted around the park that sell drinks & hot & cold food, these tend to get very busy at luch time so expect a bit of a wait for food.
Once you are ready to leave the zoo you have to pass through the gift shop, this shop sells some very nice expensive items & it also sells some cheaper stuff so you can treat the kids, most of it is of a reasonable price & I wouldnt say any of it is tat.
Overall I think this is a fantastic fun family day out & well worth a vist, its a nice clean & tidy well laid out zoo with loads to see and do.
Child (3 - 15 years) £6.60*
Child under 3 years FREE
Senior citizen & Student £8.05*
Family (2 adults + 2 children) £30.70*
(if you dont want to give a gift aid donation to the zoo the prices are £1 cheaper)
Paignton Zoological Gardens have been open to the public for 86 years so they must be doing something right. If you like animals this is a fantastic zoo to visit because the animals look so well cared for. They also have a very successful breeding programme.
The zoo is situated close to the centre of Paignton and is easily accessed by car from the ring road or by bus from the town centre.
The zoo is well laid out but be warned, it is hilly and if you have mobility problems it can be difficult to get all the way round and if you are taking little ones then take a buggy because they will get tired by the end of the day. There are plenty of places to take a break as you walk round, the restaurant, children's playgrounds with benches for mom and dad and open air places to sit and have a drink or ice cream. There is even a small train so you can have a ride on that.
There are some fantastic animals at the zoo from apes to big cats, crocodiles to camels. It isn't a cheap day out, the current prices are
Child (3 - 15 years) £6.60
Child under 3 years FREE
Senior citizen & Student £8.05
Family (2 adults + 2 children) £30.70
These prices do include a 10% voluntary donation and you can ask for that to be removed so get a slightly lower price. If you are in the area for a few days or live locally it is also worth considering buying a cheap ticket to re-enter during the current year. I'm not sure of the current price but I think it was about £2.50 last year so makes the second day good value.
The zoo is an interesting and educational experience, it is one of the most attractive zoos I have ever visited.
I have been to Paignton zoo quite a few times over the past two years. It is an amazing place to visit and what they do for the animals there is fantastic. Each enclosure is specifically designed to be as close to the animals natural habitat as physically possible.
As you getting around the zoo it is very wheel chair, push chair and child friendly, but a lot of walking/pushing is involved.
All the animals seem happy and lively. And i would definately say they are well looked after. You can book days with the keepers and help them out too.
Park is situated across the road from the zoo - and this is the only bad thing i can say about the zoo. The car park is very steep and stoney! But really not that far from the Zoo!
I would recomend a day out in Paignton Zoo to anyone - it is a great day out for adults and children alike!
The best fun I have had from a day out has been at Paignton Zoo. It is great there. It is fun for all the family. I even know someone who had their wedding reception there and apparently all the guests has a great time.
There are lots of different sorts of animals to see and you can get quite close to some, especially the small monkeys that run around the pathways where members of the public walk.
there are lots of different walks to go on and different areas to explore like woodland, green open spaces, humid environments, wild bird areas etc - I could go on. There is something for everyone.
It is a conservation zoo and so they have extensive breeding programmes for certain endangered species so even if you aren't a fan of the zoo concept, you can reconcile it with the fact they are helping the species.
The animals seen happy and well cared for in roomy enclosures NOT cages.
It's about £10 for an adult and £8 for a child. Well worth it! Also, remember to gift aid it. It won't cost you anything additional but it means Paignton Zoo can claim the tax back from the Government so make some extra money.
My fiancé bought be a gibbon for Christmas...well when I say that he sponsored a gibbon. I was so pleased when I read the letter as love monkeys and gorillas. Last time I visited the zoo ages ago on a college trip I went home really wanting a monkey.
I am always a bit funny about zoos. I hate the thought of these creatures being locked away for entertainment. I feel quite guilty about pointing and laughing at the funny things they do, however Paignton Zoo really care for the animals well and they are happy. I am pleased that the money from my fiancés sponsorship for my gibbon will go towards conservation work at the zoo. Many of the creatures are endangered in their own countries and by preserving their species in zoos they are being protected.
I couldn't wait to visit my gibbon like a child so I nagged my partner day and night about going so we did.
GETTING THERE AND PARKING
The zoo is very easy to find situated close to the town centre of Paignton. The zoo is situated on Totnes Road (A3022) and is well signposted by brown signs with an elephant and 'zoological gardens'. I will say now that obviously children will have as much fun looking out for these signs as my partner and I had.
There are ample car parking spaces for cars and enough places for coaches, which is ideal if you plan a group visit. If you want to avoid that car parking nightmare there is a bus that goes from Paignton town centre direct to the zoo. The Stagecoach (service 200) runs a regular and reliable service.
There is another service, the 66 that runs from Brixham (popular with tourists) and Torquay (also popular with the tourists) to the zoo. I did notice signs there that if arriving by bus you can save 10% on the entrance to the zoo, which is good to know. This is probably something to do with the environment and the fact they are 'hot' on car sharing and public transport in Devon.
OPENING TIMES AND COST
The zoo is open everyday from 10am to 5pm (maybe later during the peak season). The zoo is closed on Christmas day, so you can imagine my disappointment when I couldn't go straight away!
I have always been led to think that going to the zoo is expensive, as I have only been as part of a group deal, or a special offer for local residents. On my visit this time I had a quick look at the prices and was pleasantly surprised. The prices are confusing as the zoo is claiming 'gift aid' to prevent being taxed. So you can either choose to not donate an extra 10% on your admission and pay less or help pay towards 'conservation' and pay a little extra.
Adults - £11.35 without gift aid - £10.30
Children (3-15 years old) £9.60 or without gift aid - £7.60
Concessions (e.g. students OAP's) - £9.35 without gift aid - £8.50
Family - £34.10 witjout gift aid - £31.00
Children under 3 go free
Disabled visitors can save extra money on the above prices also, or if you plan to have more than 15 people in your group you can also save money on entry.
After paying the entrance fee you go through a corridor with a shop on the right hand side. Out through the corridor is a small information booth where you can purchase guidebooks and collect leaflets about show times, feeding times and special events in the zoo.
I was fortunate enough to have a free ticket with the adoption but my partner had to pay.
The zoo was first opened to the public in 1923 by Herbert Whitley and was known as 'Primley Zoological Gardens'. Not long after the opening of the zoo he has an argument over 'entertainment tax' claiming that the zoo is a place of conservation and learning not entertainment.
During World War 2 the zoo took in evacuees from London and rescued animals and zoo keepers from Chessington Zoo in London. Not long after the War the Zoo changes its name to 'Paignton Zoological and Botanical Gardens'
When Herbert Whitley died in a conservation trust is set up in his name 'The Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust'. Not long after this is Paignton zoo declared a 'registered charity'.
WOW... there are so many animals to see and I learned so much about each one. They are separated into areas or 'habitats'. The habitats reflect each animal's natural environment. I was quite disappointed that the animals are not 'grouped' into these areas and at one end of the park you can see animals from one habitat and then at the other end completely a different animal from that same habitat.
On entrance to the park you pass through the flamingo and Duck enclosure (as part of the Wetlands. Next to this part is a small 'jungle railway' which circulates the 'wetlands' including animals such as storks, pelicans, geese and swans. The train also passes some of the 'forest' creatures. Over the wetlands is a 'dodgy' suspension bridge. It is quite an adventure getting from end to the other without falling off - but very funny to rock and bounce on. Some of the bird enclosures are protected by nets and the birds fly free which can be a slight shock when walking through.
The forest area contains many animals such as lions, tigers, owls, gorillas, monkeys and orang-utans, mandrills and gibbons as well as a wide selection of forest birds. My favourite part was sseing my gibbon abd my plaque I also liked the lion and tiger enclosures and as they were positioned next to each other so we didn't have to walk far to see them.
The monkeys were really funny, I am always fascinated at how 'human' these creatures really are. I loved seeing them eat and interact with each other. One lovely monkey decided to pick his nose and eat it; they reminded me so much of some of the kids I teach. Unfortunately the gorillas were a little inactive today they didn't want to come out from behind the trees which was a disappointment.
This section includes all the big animals such as rhinos, ostriches, cheetahs, bison elephants and giraffes. These creatures are very interesting, I love too see animals like this as they are a little 'different' to your average animal. It's not everyday you can say you have seen an elephant or giraffe.
THE TROPICAL FOREST
The tropical forest has creatures such as birds, snakes and lizards. It was interesting to see the basilisk as it reminded me of Harry Potter. The Tropical Forest is in a 'green house' type building and is very hot. I was a little squeamish in this part as I am a little funny with lizards and snakes. Plants such as bamboo and cacti are in the tropical forest, showing that they need hot weather to grow. I was slightly creeped out by the free roaming shelled insects.
Ah I loved this section as I love camels. I am used to seeing camels against a volcanic backdrop and this made a real change, but it was nice one. I loved the desert birds and the tortoises. Again some of these animals lived in a 'green house' type building where it was very hot and sweaty, which was Ok on such a cold day but the jump between very hot and very cold was rather unpleasant. The birds roam free and can fly very close so be warned.
This section contained all of the animals such as parrots, owls, prairie dogs, tortoises, monkeys, giant tortoises, kangaroos, tapirs (those creatures with the weird noses) and bats. These animals take up most of the zoo and are the sort of animals you would expect to see in a zoo. The owls live up in the trees and parrots in huge aviaries. There is a lovely little picnic area near to the Primley habitat where you can sit and eat near the animals. There is also a lovely little ice cream shack nearby although the ice creams are really expensive. I loved the Brown Spider Monkeys as they were so entertaining to watch.
Also in Primley there is an area for children and adults to 'get up close' to the animals. We did notice one family having a few problems with their push chair the goat wanted to climb in. the other was more interested in the child's packet of crisps. It may be best to leave food outside this enclosure.
The baboons were rather cute. They were highly amusing to watch as they interacted and played with each other. One cheeky baboon tried covering his bottom from the crowd, there was a large uproar of laughter.
I think the funniest sign I spotted on my way around the zoo was the sign asking visitors to 'adopt a plant'. On reflection however I suppose it is just as important to conserve and protect our plants some of which are becoming rare in the countryside. The plants are arranged as part of an 'accurate' landscape for the animals to feel 'at home'. I personally didn't really appreciate the plants as much as my other half did. On the way around the zoo I had "oh aren't they beautiful" or "oh they would look great in our garden".
He proceeded to walk around the zoo reading every bit of information on every plant "oh they have over 5,000 specimens in the zoo", "look at that one it originates from Brazil" we had this for almost every plant. In fact it started to sound more like a biology lesson but hey he got me a gibbon I couldn't really complain!
The hotter climate of English Riviera means that local people can grow banana plants, palm trees and exotic varieties such as cacti. A trip down the road to the town centre yields many examples of 'exotic plants'. The zoo is not different in anyway, the warm South West climate means that these plants can be placed in enclosures to make animals feel 'at home'.
THE KEEPERS AND VETS
You can pay to be a 'keeper of the day' or 'vet of the day'. This involves a days work (yes that you have to pay for) similar to a keepers/vets day. I saw these amazing experiences on sale in the shop and thought it would make a great present for someone who dreams of working in a zoo. The day involves a memento (probably a photo) and a 'deserved' lunch. If I had £150 spare I may spend the day as a keeper/vet.
I am sure this experience will enable visitors to see what a tough day the keepers have. Come rain or shine they are out in the enclosures feeding, cleaning and tidying. In the searing heat or pelting rain the work has to be done. The early start and late finish is quite an admirable job and they all seem so jolly and happy.
The veterinary department is responsible for all the animals in the zoo. They are not only responsible for making sick animals better but ensuring that they are fed, cleaned and exercised appropriately. They advise on health care and disease prevention. They basically keep the animals in the zoo healthy and happy supported by the keepers.
There is a great little education centre build on the site of the zoo and in here trained educators give talks and impart their own knowledge. The education centre is aimed at education for children from 5 all the way up to those in further and higher education. Therefore for local schools this is an excellent resource. The zoo also have residential courses for schools and colleges. This is quite useful these days when many schools chose to take pupils on residential trips.
I briefly remember attending the centre for a quick A2 level biology session. Not long after this we all went off to get our faces painted and didn't do a lot of research. I am sure however that for most people attending for educational purposes the centre is very useful.
On my way through the zoo I found little A4 activity sheets with questions, observation tasks and word-search /crossword puzzles. It is just as educational for adults as every enclosure has a bit about the animal such as habitat, diet and behaviour. I also had a new video camera for Christmas so really enjoyed filming the animals then the information plaque to make a video of the day.
FOOD AND DRINK
There are a few food outlets dotted over the park. Compared to other tourist attractions the prices are 'average'. Near the aviary there is a selection of food outlets including a restaurant, play area and picnic area. This is a lovely place to sit if you have brought a picnic.
If you do fancy stopping off for a nice hot meal the restaurant sells a wide selection of meals. They are well priced in comparison to other 'touristy' places. The food from the 'tree tops' café (a hut) looked good but theer were long queues. The food was reasonably priced with Chicken Nuggets and Chips for £2.60, pasty and chips for £3.00. The prices were reasonable with a portion of chips costing £1.30. Drinks started at 95p for tea, coffee and water. A small cola was £1 a large £2. We ate in the restaurant where the prices were slightly higher but in the freezing weather it was nice to sit and eat a hot meal.
The play area is a place to keep the kids occupied whilst you have a quiet sit down with a snack and drink. You may also be pleased to know that there are public conveniences (toilets) available for you also. If you plan the route of the zoo before hand you should be able to time everything correctly to stop here at lunchtime and then go off on your way without missing anything out.
The shop is great place to go with affordable souvenirs. You can adopt animals at the zoo here for a gift for someone. I have always wanted to adopt a lion or a monkey. The shop sells great novelty items such as nuggets of Devon clotted cream fudge but marketed as 'monkey poo' or chocolate covered raisins as 'bird poo'.
I bought a novelty mug with a lion on; its tail formed the handle of the cup. There are many great things in here to remind you of your day at the zoo without breaking the bank. Postcards of the animals you have just seen are quite reasonable and great to pop in a scrapbook/ photo album. There are reasonably priced t-shirts, hats, jumpers and cuddly toys that are excellent for that little treat for someone. You can also buy Ice creams and ice lollies in the shop.
What a fabulous day out...I would recommend Paignton zoo for a great family day out. It is great for kids, teens and adults alike. If you plan to visit the English Riviera in the near future Paignton Zoo is a must for a great day out. The price is very reasonable for all the things you get to see and do. I will certainly be going back when it's a little warmer to revisit my gibbon!
If you are ever in the area of Paignton I would recommend a visit to Paignton Zoo. It is one the best zoos that I have ever had the pleasure to visit. I intend to tell you about our day there, but I won’t go into details about every individual animal as this sort of information can be found on the website at www.paigntonzoo.org.uk. Instead I shall endeavour to give you a feel for the place by describing my own day there. I had visited Paignton Zoo many years ago and had enjoyed my visit enormously so, while we were on holiday in Sidmouth last week, Dave took me for a return visit. He had never been before so was going on my recommendation. The zoo is a little way inland from Paignton itself, which is on the couth coast of Devon in between Torquay and Brixham. Stagecoach buses run regularly from both Torquay and Paignton. It is also easy to find by car – just follow the brown tourist signs from the centre of Paignton. There is a large free car park just outside the entrance. I will just say before I begin to tell you about the facilities and animals that Paignton Zoo is set on a hillside which means that some of the footpaths are a bit of a steep climb. Wheelchairs are available to borrow free of charge but booking for these is essential. As we walked around we came across plenty of places to get snacks and drinks including a large restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating. There were also plenty of toilets scattered about the zoo and all were well signposted. It is open from 10am until 6pm in the summer and from 10am until 5pm in the winter. The entrance building is quite impressive housing the shop, information about the zoo, the payment counter and turnstiles. The admission costs were £7.20 for adults and £6.20 for students and OAP’s and £5.50 for children aged between 3 and 15 years old. Check the website or telephone the information line on 01803 697500 for up to date prices of discoun
ted family tickets etc. We went from the entrance building across the disinfected mat put there as a precaution against the spread of foot and mouth disease. This made the disease suddenly very real for us ‘townies’. Paignton Zoo is an Environmental Park dedicated to protecting some of our most endangered species, and it is certainly a far cry from how zoos used to be when I was young! The zoo itself is split into six main areas – Savannah, Wetland, Dessert, Primley, Forest and Tropical Forest, so you get to see the various groups of animals in the company of the natural neighbours. To be fair, we sort of wandered around and saw what we wanted to in the order we wanted so this opinion will be a bit mixed up as regards those groupings. Our first encounter with the residents of Paignton Zoo was somewhat unusual, well, we thought so anyway. We walked through the bird enclosure! At each end was a ‘door’ made of vertical pieces of heavy duty plastic so we could push our way through, but the birds would not be able to get out. It was fascinating to watch them flying about freely and there was plenty of information to tell you what they all were. If you’re a bit concerned about this, I will just say that they did not fly anywhere near to us. Our next stop was the lions. I love all the big cats – they have always been my favourite animals. The zoo has a lion and a lioness both of whom were fast asleep having just been fed. They were in a lovely big enclosure and they looked very healthy and contented. I was a bit disappointed not to see them prowling around though! We moved on to the Siberian Tigers, again the zoo has a pair of these. One was fast asleep in the sunshine and the other was walking round the enclosure. We stood first near to the fence and could see the tiger walking past, but then we moved down the side of the enclosure to stand next to the glass window to get a be
tter view. It was quite a feeling to stoop down as the tiger walked past and looked through the glass, so that I was literally face to face with him separated by a couple of millimetres of what I hoped was well reinforced glass! I get a bit hazy about the order in which we visited the other animals so you’ll have to excuse me if I get it a bit wrong! If you go there yourself don’t be surprised if I have got two animals next to each other in my opinion who were nowhere near one another in the zoo! Anyway back to the zoo – the elephants again had a huge enclosure, but I was quite surprised to find that the zoo has two elephants but one is African and the other is Indian. I would have expected them to have a pair of either one or the other type. By the way I could never remember which was which until my sister (aka Pagan) told me that one of the children in her class had told her this way of remembering. The Indian elephant has small ears like the size of India and the African elephant has large ears like the size of Africa. I have never forgotten since. Next to the elephants was a pair of beautiful giraffes. I do think that these creatures are so majestic. Opposite this was an enclosure containing zebra, and further down was a pair of white rhinos. The next thing we saw was a family of bison, an adult pair and a baby. Now these were the only animals in the zoo that looked unkempt and scruffy, but I challenge anyone to tell me that they have seen a tidy looking bison! All the other animals in the zoo looked well cared for and happy in their lovely surroundings. The gorillas were inside a huge gorilla house while their enclosure was being cleaned, and re -landscaped. They had climbing nets, ropes on which to swing and plenty of food and drink so they all seemed quite happy indoors. Notices around the place requested that no flash photography be used as it disturbed the gorillas. Let’s face it
– we do not want a disturbed gorilla do we? The penguins were all outside but were sheltering from the sun under the trees in their enclosure. We tried to tell them that they’d be much cooler in the water but they weren’t having any of it! My absolute favourites of the day were the two cheetahs. As we arrived at their enclosure they were both asleep, but as we stood watching them they woke up and one began pacing around. They are such graceful animals with beautiful markings on their faces. I could have stood there all day watching them. On the way out Dave bought me a small cheetah to sit on the shelf in the car! Not a real one you understand! There was a nocturnal house, which housed bats and sloths (in separate glass fronted cages). There was very little light in here, but it was easy enough to see everything once your eyes had adjusted. The bats were much larger than I expected, as they were fruit bats and I had only ever seen the little ones that fly about at dusk before, but it was great to see them flying around. The thing that made me angry in here was the fact that the sign outside said no flash photography and no noise so as not to disturb the animals, and children were shouting to one another with no word of rebuke from the parents. Another house to walk through was the ‘Rain Forest’. This again had birds flying freely and we stood watching them building their nests. The lizards, snakes etc were all safely inside glass cages – except for one small lizard sitting happily on the top of the cage – how he had escaped we didn’t know. We just hoped that the snakes didn’t know the same escape route! From the ‘Rain Forest’ we walked into the ‘Desert’ to see the animals and birds native to this area of the world. Again they were housed in glass fronted cages, with extra precautions where the inhabitant of the cage was particularly poisonous!
The only area of the zoo that we did not visit was the Primley area, which contained more birds and reptiles together with the kangaroos, and small monkeys. Neither of us was particularly interested in any of those so we decided to give that area a miss. We visited the shop on the way out, which sells a wide range of souvenirs including ties, tee shirts, books, stuffed toys (as mentioned above!), toys, ornaments, postcards etc to name but a few! They accept all major credit and debit cards too. Well, that’s an account of our time at Paignton Zoo. We both really enjoyed our visit and would heartily recommend it to anyone thinking about going.