Colchester Zoo | Kidadl

Colchester Zoo

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  • Explore 30 animal exhibits around the park, sectioned off to feel like you’re travelling the world.
  • Eat and play amongst the animals on your trip.
  • Get interactive and make your own creations come to life.


Colchester Zoo is a zoological garden in Colchester that opened in 1963. It is an animal sanctuary to rare and endangered creatures from all over the world, with over 200 species in the park. Spread over 60 acres, with around 30 areas to explore, there’s plenty to do at this brilliant zoo.

With over 200 species, it’s hard to know where to start. Explore the world of Komodo dragons, as Colchester Zoo is one of the only zoos in the UK approved to keep them. Elephant Kingdom is home to a herd of four African elephants; one male and three females. At certain times of day, it’s even possible to feed these majestic creatures. If you want to try and spot some babies, Colchester Zoo is fortunate with its breeding programmes. In 2020, the Tamanduas Oreo and Ruth, in the World’s Apart area, gave birth to a new baby, their second. The endangered crowned lemurs Triksie and Ala, in the Lost Madagascar Area, also gave birth to a baby in 2020, as did the Kirk’s dik-diks Daenarys and Demetri, who can be found on the Edge of Arica area.

Want to feel like you’re an animal yourself? There are several outdoor play areas around the park to help blow off steam. The Kids’ Safari is themed around the park with towers, slides, and bridges of all kinds. The Waterhole Play Area is near the elephants and giraffes so your cheeky monkeys can feel like they’re right up close with the animals. The fun doesn’t stop there. The Colchester Zoo face painting station means your kids can become the animals themselves. Hopefully none of the keepers get confused!

Colchester Zoo is brilliant for interactivity. The Interactive Area includes a sand pit to help you create different habitats out of sand. You can even create a mythical land if you prefer, and with the ability to turn children’s drawings into reality on the screen, any creature can come to life.

The Lost Madagascar Tain riding around the park.

The Lost Madagascar Train is a great start for any visitor's journey around the park. Taking visitors across countries and continents led by a ranger guide, before disembarking at Lost Madagascar, this is an incredible way to start the day. The train is located near the tigers.

Want to buy a souvenir of the day? Soft toys and t-shirts are available, as well as animal sculptures and personalisable trinkets to help make the end of the best day less sad. If you need somewhere to get a quick meal, The Outpost Coffee Lounge has a variety of hot drinks and light bites. Luckily, if nothing there suits your appetite, there are 10 more places to get food and drinks across the site. Whether it’s a hot day and you’re looking for an ice cream, or feel like a delicious vegetarian wrap, there’s something for you. The Southern Kitchen or Penguini’s Restaurant are both a little more expensive but are great full meals if you’re happy to splash out a little more.

If you’re looking for incredible events, one of the best is the Starlight Safari Night and feel like you’re in a safari park during a magical twilight. See animals in a whole new way, whether they’re going off to bed or just waking up. See exclusive feedings and hear talks about all of your favourite animals, like bears, chimpanzees, Komodo dragons, penguins and more. Colchester Zoo offers many special opportunities for budding vets and conservationists. Feed elephants and giraffes by hand. Become a zoo keeper for a day and see the animals up close, with three packages offering different animals to choose from. If you’re passionate about one particular animal, keeper shadowing allows you to focus on that keeper’s day, and to ask all of the questions you have been desperate to. The Kids Zoo Academy is perfect for introducing aspiring zookeepers to how the zoo works. With two hours up close with the animals and a whole day’s access to the zoo, you’ll be able to tell plenty of interesting facts and make tons of unforgettable memories.

Of the many things to do in Colchester, the zoo is its main attraction, though Essex has plenty more family-friendly days out and even some brilliant beaches to explore just a drive away.

What to know before you go

  • Colchester Zoo opens at 9.30am every day except Christmas Day, but closing times vary.
  • Children under the age of 16 years must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Lockers are available to rent.
  • All 13 toilets are accessible for disabled guests. 11 toilets have baby changing facilities. There is an adult changing facility near the entrance.
  • There are wheelchair accessible routes throughout the park.
  • Buggies can be used at the park.

Getting there

  • Parking is free at the zoo.
  • Take the A1124 exit (Junction 26) off the main A12. Colchester Zoo is situated on Maldon Road in Stanway.
  • Cycle racks are provided near the entrance.
  • Colchester Main Train Station is a 10-minute bus ride away, and is an hour from London train services.
  • All bus services to Colchester Bus Station connect with the number 75 for Maldon or Tiptree and Colchester Zoo. The best for the station are 8, 61, 63 and 64.

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