Reviewed by Katie Allen
We haven’t been to Paignton Zoo for a few years and now my daughter is 5 I felt it was the perfect time to go again.
I was a bit worried about visiting during the hot, summer, school holidays but we were pleasantly surprised that there were plenty of far flung parts of the park that my mum, daughter and I practically had to ourselves.
The website helpfully suggested we arrive just before its opening time, 10am, which meant we could park in the closest car park and only had a short queue while we waited for the doors to open. We joined the prepaid queue but annoyingly as soon as we reached the front our cashier disappeared leaving our line frustrated. We ended up having to barge into the queue next to us to get in. Not the best start but we were in and on our way.
As soon as you get into the park you can see a map and timetable of the day’s events. My daughter wanted to see tigers, the elephant and meerkats. We noted that the elephant was at the far end of the park so we went straight there which helped separate us from the crowd at the entrance. I note now that you can download a zoo map to your smart phone or even use their app. We didn’t do this but it wasn’t a problem as there are plenty of maps around helping us find toilets and specific animals for example.
We picked up coffees en route (I was pleased that decaf was available) and noted possible shady locations for our picnic lunch while my daughter memorised the ice cream options and play park spots.
There are over 2500 animals spread over 80 acres and categorised into six habitat zones – Savannah to Wetlands. We were there for 5 hours, walked over 5 miles and didn’t see it all. It’s a pity the expensive ticket is only valid for one day but you are able to pay an additional £7.50 to come back again within 6 months.
All the animals seem to be content in their environment and the zoo works hard to enrich their surroundings. It’s also great to see information boards about conservation, how to protect the animals in the wild and how the zoo helps.
I would recommend the zoo as a great family day out if an expensive one – £60 for a family of four (including gift aid). To reduce costs I would recommend booking tickets online, take a packed lunch or visit Morrison’s next door and avoid the gift shop if you can! The train is good fun and only 80p per person but it does only last 10 mins.
Tickets cost from £14.25 to £60.
For more information or to book tickets visit www.paigntonzoo.org.uk.
Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, Totnes Road, Paignton, Devon, TQ4 7EU