ZSL Whipsnade Zoo | Kidadl

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

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  • Explore the UK’s largest zoo, with over 3,000 animals to see at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire.
  • Meet the incredible and endangered species that call the zoo home, including tigers, elephants, and rhinos.
  • Drive through the amazing “Passage Through Asia”, where you can see different species up close - from the comfort of your car!

Somewhere in the rolling, green hills of Bedfordshire, you can find an amazing menagerie of animals large and small. This place is the brilliant ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, a fantastic day out for all the family. See some of the most incredible animals on the planet at the largest zoo in the UK.

Formerly known as Whipsnade Wild Animal Park, Whipsnade Zoo was opened in 1931 and is one of two Zoological Society of London (ZSL) zoos, alongside London Zoo in central London. As one of the best zoos in the UK, Whipsnade is well worth a visit.

Baby elephant amongst its herd at the zoo.

From tigers and lions to giraffes and elephants, there’s so much to see at Whipsnade Zoo. The zoo is stretched over a 600-acre site near Whipsnade, Bedfordshire and is home to 3,626 animals. With such a large site, it would take many hours to walk around the entire zoo. However, you can tackle this by taking the car inside the zoo, or choosing which areas to visit before you arrive. The four-hour slots in place are a good estimate of how long the zoo takes if you want to see as much as possible.

While there are many brilliant animals to be found behind the glass walls of the zoo’s large and spacious enclosures, for some animals you don’t even have to go that far. A few friendly species roam free around the wildlife park, including peacocks, wallabies, and mara, a sort of large guinea pig. 

The zoo also acts as a safari park, where you can choose to drive your car through the “Passage Through Asia” section of the zoo. This space is open with no barriers between you and the animals, which makes for an unforgettable experience. This area is a large paddock where the animals roam freely. The animals in this section include camels, yak, and deer.

There are many incredible experiences on offer at the zoo. You can interact with beautiful animals like never before with the Meet the Elephants, Tigers, Lions, or Giraffes experience. These experiences are not included in the regular ticket price and do cost extra.

What to know before you go

  • Whipsnade Zoo opening times are from 10am - 6pm during the summer months. In the autumn, the zoo is open until 5pm, and until 4pm in the winter.
  • There are many different options for food and drink across the wildlife park. Grab a burger or hot dog at the Base Camp Barbeque, a sandwich or snack at the River Cottage Deli, or a hot bite to eat at the Visitor Centre Cafe. There are also a number of smaller sites selling things to eat and drink around the zoo.
  • There are plenty of toilet facilities dotted around the site, all of which have baby changing facilities too. The toilets are open but there are increased cleaning sessions currently so they may be closed for short periods during the day.
  • The park is mostly accessible for buggy and wheelchair users, with tarmac pathways in the pedestrian sections of the zoo. Wheelchairs are also available for hire on a first come, first served basis.
  • With such a large site, it’s a good idea to bring a buggy for younger kids. There are buses that can take you between the different areas of the park. The Whipsnade railway can take you to the different ‘continents’ within the park too.
  • As well as the free bus service, you can also choose to pay £25 to take your car inside the park. By doing this, you can drive round most of the areas of the park, including the car-only “Passage Through Asia” section. It also helps with being able to park closer to the zoo exhibits.

Getting there

  • Whipsnade Zoo is off Junction 21 on the M25, and between Junctions 9 and 12 on the M1. The zoo is well signposted on these roads and other major roads in the area. It's a little over an hour’s drive away from London.
  • Parking at Whipsnade Zoo is easy; there’s a large car park by the entrance, and parking is free. The car park is open from 8am and closes at 7pm during the summer.
  • You can also get to Whipsnade Zoo via public transport. The 40 and 40A bus services run from nearby Dunstable directly to Whipsnade Zoo. You can reach Dunstable by taking the train to Luton, and then taking the B bus to Dunstable town centre.

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