Best Zoo Scotland

David Lawrence
• Sunday, 17 January, 2021
• 7 min read

But while adult animal lovers would be happy to spend a few hours standing around in a windy nature reserve if it meant they got a glimpse of a rutting stag going full-on Barry White, kids tend to lack patience and stamina. Supporters of zoos say that they encourage public interest in wildlife and conservation, while some critics maintain that it's always indefensible to confine animals in enclosures.

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Until 2014, one of the highlights of Edinburgh Zoo was its Big Cat Walkway, which featured among other magnificent animals a pair of jaguars and a spectacular male Amur leopard, but the zoo decided that the Walkway, with its relatively small enclosures, was too high a price to pay in animal welfare for its educational purpose. Scotland has a lot of nature reserves, but places where you can get closer to the animals are a little thinner on the ground.

Admission isn't cheap, but if you're planning to go more than a couple of times in a year, family membership will soon pay for itself. This zoo is privately owned and run by Brian and Shirley Currant as a non-profit organization, and has a focus on rescuing animals that have been held in poor conditions: in May 2018 it took delivery of two brown bears, Hank and ESO, which had previously been living a miserable life caged outside a roadside restaurant in Albania.

Handling sessions can be booked, in which you may be able to touch or hold a royal python, a leopard gecko, a tortoise or other small animals. There's nothing about Gorge City Farm which is just for show: a sign on the premises cheerfully informs visitors that its animals have ended up going to some of the finest restaurants in Edinburgh.

Home to several pigs, chickens, goats, sheep and some handsome cattle, the farm opened in 1982 and receives some external funding as well as earning money from the sale of produce; entrance has always been free. A cashflow crisis in 2016 led to an unprecedented flood of donations from the local community, and now it has a robust business plan and operates within renewed enthusiasm.

It features such attractions as a walk-in camera obscure, a vegetable garden, Livingston Mill and the Scottish Shale Oil Museum. But it's also a farm, with horses, donkeys, ponies, sheep, pigs, geese, ducks, goats and chickens.

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Older kids can have fun on the zip line or explore the Adventure Zone in the converted shale oil refinery, while for ages 3 – 8 there's a soft play area. Marie Farm Park has some more exotic beasts, including llamas, an alpaca and Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs, as well as Shetland ponies, horses, donkeys, pigs and goats and a range of fowl including peacocks, ducks, chickens, turkeys and quail.

The result is that the Park is now home to some of the most impressive animals in Scotland, including a pair of Amur tigers, three Bactrian camels, three polar bears, two snow leopards, two wolverines and a small herd of yaks. The main reserve is drive-through, but there are still plenty of walkable areas and there aren't many other chances to see such a variety of creatures in something like their natural habitat.

Open Apr--Jun and Sep--Oct: 10am--5pm; July--Aug 10am--6pm; Nov--Mar 10am--4pm. The traditional farm buildings and working watermill are home to many friendly farm animals, including highland cattle, rare breed sheep, and… E Edinburgh Zoo Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, 134 Corstorphine Road, Edinburgh, EH12 6TS Set in 82 acres of sloping parkland, Edinburgh Zoo is home to over 1,000 rare and beautiful animals and the UK’s only giant pandas.

Or spend your day learning about brilliant birds, mischievous markets, super strong sun bears and more with daily keeper talks! You can experience and explore the animal walkthroughs bringing you closer than ever before to monkeys, lemurs, wallabies and pelicans.

Blair Drummond is only an hour’s drive from Glasgow and Edinburgh, and offers a great day out for all the family. There is a drive through section of the safari park that takes you past some animals that the kids will love, from Elephants and Rhinos to Lions and Giraffes.

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Highland Wildlife Park is owned by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (ROSS) and was founded in 1986. Become immersed in the natural surroundings of the park while looking out for some of its most famous residents, including snow leopards, European gray wolves and Scotland’s only polar bears.

Daily keeper talks and animal feeds hosted by an expert team give visitors a unique opportunity to find out about endangered species like Scotland’s elusive wildcats, and how you can help to save them in the wild. The Black Isle Wildlife Park is located close to North Cassock and only a short drive from Inverness.

Located in Dundee the park gives you a chance to get close to many animals and birds including the European brown bear. The park provides an excellent family day out, and also holds an education program for private groups, schools and colleges.

Apart from the animals the center offers great facilities for the family, featuring an indoor play barn and mini golf. For those who enjoy fishing there is also a fishery on site where you can hire rods and bait for a great day catching trout.

Deep Sea World is only 20 minutes from Edinburgh and located in North Queens ferry, just under the Forth Rail Bridge. The aquarium offers the largest collection of Sharks in the UK, and you can have the chance to dive with these magnificent creatures, if you are brave enough.

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(Source: perceptivetravel.com)

The rain forest exhibit gives you the opportunity to experience life in the Amazon, with tropical frogs and the chance to see piranha and electric eels. Discover Amazonia is Scotland largest indoor tropical rainforest and home to over seventy different species, from parrots, monkeys, snakes and butterflies.

Located in Strathclyde Country Park, Mother well, the center offers an experience of a tropical climate, together with the animals and birdlife for a great day out. You can see the Humboldt Penguin from South America or visit some of Scotland’s Harbor Seals, but if you prefer something more exotic you can view some tropical fish like the Lionfish or even an Octopus.

Set only 30 minutes from the city of Glasgow, and situated on the lovely shores of Lock Lomond, this sea life center is a great day out for everyone. Other creatures you can see are the octopus and the black tip reef shark, if you prefer the more gentle fish you can see the clownfish also known as “Nemo”.

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland under which the Edinburgh Zoo functions, houses over 1000 rare, unusual and endangered animals in the world. Reviewed August 11, 2012, Me and my wife and 11-month-old daughter went today, and it was great, you get up close to all the animals and my daughter was smiling all day, we will be back when she is a little older, price was very good and the picnic area was lovely and clean.

We had a fantastic day and felt this was the best place for our daughter as the attractions weren't only aimed at older kids and adults. There is a great swing park and an also few fairground rides which were very reasonably priced.

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Reviewed August 11, 2012, went here with my 5-year-old daughter she loved it especially the bears. Great play areas didn't manage to visit the indoor play area as it was really sunny and spend all day outside.

Reviewed August 10, 2012, We love this place and would always choose it over Edinburgh zoo ! This is a complete nightmare when there are big queues, and we are struggling through with a double stroller.

Reviewed 18 November 2018 via mobile An absolute rip off, the place is a dump, more animals in the average local park. Totally disgusted do not waste your time and particularly your money. We have an extensive animal collection including pandas, penguins, chimpanzees, lions and tiger, amongst many others.

If there were particular species that you were expecting to see but couldn't, please could you email us and we can reply to you more specifically. Reviewed 18 November 2018 via mobile Full disabled facilities.

Very child-friendly but could be a bit pricey for food and drinks. Advise you to bring picnic. Has playground. Reviewed 18 November 2018 via mobile Great Time for all ages.

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(Source: www.telegraph.co.uk)

Totally worth it £16 ticket bought though Groupon.Wee, description on each bigger display, wee 15min acrobatic show at certain times, few stops on the way to buy food(overpriced in my opinion) so backpack with sandwiches and thermos with tee is worth consideration. Was ca 2h walk so please check weather forecast and wear appropriate clothing.

During our four-day trip to Edinburgh we found all other attractions to be well presented and interesting, but the zoo proved to be VERY disappointing and poor value for money. The keeper who presented the talk on insects was, however, very interesting and enthusiastic.

A recommendation would be for a CCTV camera to be set up in the female panda's sleeping room to enable visitors to see her. Reviewed 16 November 2018 via mobile Pay a lot to see very little.

Second trip and thought cooler climate would make a difference but sadly no. Spend the best part of the time wandering around looking at empties enclosures or animals that are as far away as eye can see or sleeping.

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