While in Essex on our lovely Haven holiday at The Orchards, we wanted to have a day out offsite and explore. As Colchester Zoo is only around half an hour away, it seams like the perfect choice for a family friendly day out.
Parking and Entry
The parking at the zoo was some of the best i’ve seen. Their were clear rows and ways to work out where you’ve parked for later, but the spaces weren’t marked, meaning you could easily leave a bit of extra space for those who needed it, perfect if you are traveling with children in carseats or have a disability.
Once we walked into the entrance, we could see it was going to be an exciting day! Luckily for us, there was a very small queue and we were served really quickly, the tickets were cheaper if we booked in advanced but as we hadn’t we were stuck with the slightly on the expensive side on the day prices!
Once we had our ticket, we walked though to the gate area. Just a quick note if you are planning to grab lunch from you car, you’ll need to go to the gift shop and get a wristband to get back in, your ticket won’t work. It’s also a long walk, so if you can take everything you need with you, then do.
Animals and Experiences
There are so many animals at Colchester Zoo and surprisingly other experiences too. We went right and around, which worked out really well as most people went left so we had many areas to ourself (which made for a fun private tour!)
Mini Zoo Keeper – Free Experience!
As we walked around we found an area called Mini Zoo Keeper, we joined the queue (with no clue what we were queuing for – how very British!) and waited until we got to the tent. Once we were invited in, the girls were offered a pet carrier with an animal* in it. The choices were Comodo Dragon or Bats as the other animals were taken.
Kairi chose the bats and Naminé decided to take on the Comodo Dragon. The lady showed the girls to their areas which were mini versions of zoo enclosures (complete with the glass window, all the bits inside (minus the animal) and the information. We were told the instructions were on the wall and we could take our time.
Naminé (Just turned 3) walked up to her inclosure and grabbed the sponge in the bucket of soapy water. Her first job was tow clean the window so the visitors could see her animal! Next she had to dip a long feather in ‘hormones’ and spread it over the floor so her Dragon would be able to follow the scent once home. Lastly she had to find the rats and hide them under a log for her Comodo Dragon to find.
Once her enclosure was all set up, she carefully took her dragon out of it’s carrier and placed it under the tree in the enclosure to have a photo with. She was so proud of her work and I just loved the experience!
We then walked over to see what Kairi (almost 5) was up to. In that whole time she had spent brushing the logs down for her bats, she was doing a thorough job! Next she had to put the ropes up for the bats to hang from and spray the leaves with water so they are moist.
Once she had finished Kairi had to take her bats and put them onto a log, then have her picture with them. At the end, both of the girls were given a certificate and a sticker.
*Just to note the animals were actually teddies and the enclosures were mini versions so not used for real animals, but the experience was so real and amazing!
Up Close with the Animals – Free/Paid
Colchester Zoo has a few wonderful walk through areas where you can get up close and personal to the animals. We paid for 4 cups of food and we took a walk with the Kangaroos, Goats, Sheep and Horse. The girls loved the opportunity to feed them and it was wonderful to see the smiles on their faces.
At another area in the park, we had the opportunity to buy Nectar and feed the birds. It was so nice to see the birds landing on people and watching how they feed themselves and each other too!
Both experiences were open to everyone to walk through, but you did have to purchase any food you need.
Learning and Hands On
One of the things I loved about Colchester Zoo, is the amount of hands on and learning areas there were. As we walked around the zoo, there were cupboards to open, things to smell and guess and even things to test your strength verses an animal, like tug of war (with a weight the other end, hanging like a monkey from a rope or running as fast as you can and your score being shown on a timer).
I loved these special touches and i was really interesting to learn about what we use that contains Palm Oil and why bears are killed.
We stopped off (well, I did!) for a Mini Egg Hot Chocolate, the places to eat looked really nice, but as expected they were very expensive for what you got and as they were busy, the service was quite slow.
At lunch we decided to take a seat next to a play area. I love that Colchester Zoo has so many play areas available (indoor and outdoor) so it was really nice to let the girls run off some steam while we sat at a table and had lunch.
We’ve fed so many animals ? ? today, it was an amazing experience! I can’t believe how well little (big) Nam has done all day going to the toilet ? no accidents again, so proud of her ? Now to cook a pizza ? (without the polystyrene base this time ??) while the girls continue being mini zoo keepers ? ? ? #zoo #colchester #caravan #haven #family #pblogger #tblogger #travel #birds #colourful #encounter #animals #upclose
Something to note is the Zoo is huge! If you have difficulties with walking, then I recommend that you take your aids with you just in case (believe me, I wish I had!). Colchester Zoo also has a lot of steep hills which are very tiring for little legs.
Would you like to visit Colchester Zoo, pop over to our saved Insta story to see some more fun from our day!
Looking to save yourself some money? Grab a zoo animal before you go and give it to the kids in the car! Use our affiliate link below.