Yesterday Roo and I took advantage of the beautiful weather and headed off to Twycross Zoo. Twycross is a great zoo and is in fact a world primate centre and has an amazing collection of primates, wetland animals, giraffe’s and elephants. I took advantage of booking online and saved 5% on the price of the tickets and also beat the queues at the gate because I was able to print my ticket off in advance.
When we arrived, the car park was heaving and we were right down in the bottom car park. It was a refreshing change not to have to pay for parking like other major theme parks and I hope that this continues as it always annoys me that I have to pay to park the car when I’ve just used my diesel to get there as well. Plus with zero public transport links from my house to the zoo there isn’t an alternative.
We walked in through the new Himalayan exhibition which was a really smart looking coffee bar and restaurant and large gift shop (every parents worst nightmare on arrival). Himalaya is a 300 seater all day restaurant with views of the spectacular snow leopards. Roo and I sat and had a reasonably priced coffee, juice and danish pastry before setting off and it was lovely to watch the snow leopards, even if they were sleepy enjoying their beautiful enclosure.
As I suspected the queue to get tickets was pretty busy but thankfully the fast pass lane was well manned and we were through in five minutes. Big thumbs up. Roo ran straight off in the direction of face painting, and at £3.50 this was reasonably priced but it was too hot and the last thing I wanted was a face full of running paint in an hour or two so instead we went off to see the first sets of the primates. The gibbons were up to their usual tricks of swinging for show and Roo took delight at the quirky meerkats peeking from their dens. The terrain was quite hilly and I am glad I took the buggy as Roo’s little legs got tired.
Despite the the crowds though we weren’t penned in and it was easy to get to see the animals in their enclosures as nearly all the sides are open for viewing and there are even viewing tunnels for you to walk through in case the animals do their usual trick of hiding inside on hot days.
One of the best primate exhibits is the orangutans. Roo had never seen these before and there was a baby in the family who was rolling everywhere and doing some comical moments with it’s mum and dad that had lots of the kids giggling away.
Slightly disappointing was the fact that the penguin enclosure was shut for refurbishment. Roo likes penguins and was keen to see them in the water and once we had navigated through the badly signposted park we came upon a muddly puddle and a wooden house with 6 rather forlorn penguins staring at their puddle as if to say “can we go home yet’. I know it’s a temporary enclosure and I know they won’t be there long but they really did look pretty narked off and Roo was not in the slightest bit interested in this display after all.
Next was a quick bathroom break and if you go to the bathrooms in the park take your hand sanitizer sprays and antibacterial wipes. The bathroom’s were quite frankly disgusting for a family attraction in 2012. The floors were filthy, the toilet lids hanging off, dirty toilets with un-flushed contents, cobwebs hanging in dank corners and dirty untidy sink areas. If was a new mother looking for a baby changing area then I think I’d have been better off changing on the floor outside. I find it totally unacceptable that simple facilities such as washrooms cannot be maintained to a decent, clean level and when you’re charging around £40 for a family ticket I fail to see why money can be distributed to essential facilities such as these.
Thankfully I took my own picnic so didn’t have to shell out for food. Generally my experience of theme park food is never good. It’s always overpriced and mass produced and whilst I don’t mind packing treats in the picnic bag a lot of the meal options are too calorific to be considered healthy for a toddler of Roo’s age so we sat under the shade of a big tree and had our picnic followed by a game of hide and seek. Thanks to the wide open spaces it’s great for kids to run around in and burn off some energy in relative safety.
Then we took a stroll back past the magnificent elephants and beautiful giraffes (definitely my favourites) and headed up to the small amusement and play area Roo had spotted with her eagle eyes when we arrived. This small fun park area has a few rides, game stalls (at an extra cost), a train and a small animal petting zoo. The rides are a bit old and some of them missing their safety chains but the staff do a good job of making sure the kids are safe and secure on the rides and they manage their little queues well. Even stopping the rides when one or two children got upset or frightened. So big thumbs up there. The rides themselves don’t cost any extra gut the little side stalls were extra and I thankfully managed to negotiate these and the lure of neon animals in lurid fabrics.
We stopped for a quick ice cream – when did three ice creams manage to cost over £5! And after recovering from the shock of this made our way through to the park exit and the gift shop run. No matter how hard you try as a parent you can’t avoid the gift shop, and admittedly we do have a ritual of buying a pencil and rubber for every place we visit for Roo for a collection for her. This time she was under strict instructions to choose one gift. Surprisingly she opted for the wooded eco instruments and chose some seed maracas. I quite liked these and was impressed with her choice. At £4 they weren’t horrendously priced and she did walk out the shop as good as gold.
We’d spend a good 6 hours at the park and the three tickets for one adult, a concession and a toddler had cost me £30. I had spent £5.20 on ice creams and £3.75 on coffee and juice. Whilst we couldn’t afford to go every week to the zoo Roo had a great day out and there was a lot to see, no doubt we missed areas, and with the tiger attraction coming soon I know we will go back for another visit once that opens.
You can visit the Twycross Zoo website and purchase tickets online before your visit and save 5% on gate prices, as well as checking out events that are happening on the day and I would say it’s definitely worth a day out with the family and a great one for burning off energy and learning about the fascinating creatures in the world around us. As you can see from the photos Roo really enjoyer her day out.
Our Twycross Zoo Adventures