Firstly, I was very surprised at how much the zoo had to offer. It is easily a place you could spend the whole day if you explored the whole site.
Parking is free and plentiful and entry is a very pocket friendly £6 per adult, £4 per child or £17 per family (2 adults and up to 3 children). You can come and go as you please and your entrance fee covers everything Kirkley Hall has to offer.
Kirkley hall is different from other farms we have visited as there is not an option to purchase animal food - this did not detract from our day in any shape or for though and if anything it was one less thing to carry!
You are handed a map and activity schedule on entry and we arrived just in time to help groom a goat. The keepers were friendly and patient and made sure everybody had a stroke.
Then it was straight to some more hands on fun in the petting bar. Small animals are placed in the pen for children to stroke. The assistant here was lovely and gave us some hints on how to make the most of our day.
We took a few hours to explore the 130 species that live in the zoo. Here are our highlights:-
There are different zones the explore and such a wide variety of animals. As well as outdoor enclosures there is an aquarium and a monkey and repltile house.
What really stands out at Kirkley Hall zoo is how much they want to educate you. There are lots and lots of signs and information boards around the zoo detailing their work or giving you extra information about an animal. My 7 year old loved reading them and telling his brother and sister some facts.
I loved this informative display with lots of advice about caring for your pet at home.
There are also QR codes next to some of the animals to give you even more information - unfortunately our phone had very little signal (well we were in the middle of the country) so we weren't able to use these, however it is fantastic to see an attraction like this moving with the times.
If you need an immediate break from the animals, we noticed lots of children taking part in treasure trails and on toy tractors. There are also picnic benches dotted around the zoo.
In the afternoon we decided to attend a Replile class. This was included in the admission price and lasted about 30 minutes. An expert explained about different types of repltiles and how to care for them/how to behave and also let everybody have a stroke. We loved this part of the day and really did feel like we were learning something (adults as well as children).
After sitting still for 30 minutes, we decided to go for a walk through Kirkley hall' beautiful gardens. In total there are four hectares to explore and you can take part in a forest trail if you wish. I would definitely recommend bringing your camera and you will walk through some stunning wildlife.
Throughout your walk you will see signposts for a play area. We were very pleased to find this little park hidden away. There are seats for mum and dad and a drinks machine too.
There is even an indoor area filled with toys for children should the weather turn bad. We also opened a secret door to find small pools filled with turtles which was a nice surprise.
If I was going to take a picnic to Kirkley hall I would definitely take it out of the zoo and eat in the gardens as they just have a completely relaxing feel and it is a lovely way to break up your day.
Kirkley hall also has it's own orangery tea room and gift shop - we didn't visit today but it looked lovely from the outside and there is a zip wire as well but unfortunately we ran out of time!
I was so impressed with all of the conservation work Kirkley hall does, in particular it's role in preserving red squirrels. A grey squirrel hasn't been spotted in their grounds for a number of years now so the red squirrels can thrive. What a fantastic achievement!
Kirkley hall is definitely the place to visit if you want to enjoy an educational day trip. £17 for a family of 5 is just such an amazing price. There are lots of special events throughout the year including zoo school, princess and pirate weekends and 'conquer that spider fear' weekend. Check out their website for further details.