I asked over on my facebook page if anyone had any exciting plans for October half term and would like to share them on North East Family Fun. I was delighted when Gavin from Gavin Forster Photography volunteered to share his trip to Edinburgh zoo. Gavin is primarily a wedding photographer in the North East and I defy anyone to read his natural wedding photography blog and not want to get married all over again. Over to Gavin:-
Ok maybe it's not in the north east but it's not that far up north to Edinburgh is it? As with any zoo/animal park/petting area, the ethics of the place are always up for debate and persona to those families visiting. I'm not really going to say much on those other than the ones that we visit we always check their history and how they are supporting biodiversity.
So then, where to start? The zoo itself is a world leader in supporting the welfare and care of their animals. This means that the enclosures for the animals are larger than you would expect. This is great for the animals but can lead to some slight frustrations from a viewing perspective as often animal's hide ;-) To counteract this the friendly staff run regular 'meet n greet type sessions that involved feeding the animals and talks to provide young and old with facts and stories about the species and also about the actual animals at this zoo. Little Daisy was amazed by rhino talk. The colossal beast would normally have been a big thing all the way over there but for her to be within 2m of it getting fed carrots, she was in awe. The well trained staff kept the crowds entertained and the animals full.
Overall the size of the site meant that even though it was a half term visit, we never felt like we were on a conveyor belt round the place. The vast majority of the enclosures give a number of viewing places and therefore leave space for little ones to see things. That said a couple of the animals maybe a little more popular and there was a little bit of a mele around the tiger enclosure and the rhino when the talk was going on. Other than that it was all great. You have to book tickets to go see the pandas and they do go very fast so when we arrived at around 11:30 they had all gone.
The main crazy bit of the day was the rush of people to the ever popular penguin walk. The staff make it clear that the walk is very much voluntary from the penguins perspective so some days there will be loads and other not so many. The route is lined by hundreds of people so do get there well before the 2.15 daily start time or it will be tough seeing the little fellas walking past. When we visited only 5 gentoos came out for a wander, some of the crowd were grumbling as they expected a full precision line...come on people get a grip. These are animals you are seeing and if they wanted to stay in the pool and go for a swim rather than wander through that many people...yeah I would have my speedos on too ;-)
The cost of getting in isn’t cheap but for a full day its worth it. £18 per adult and £13.50 for kids sounds a lot but for what you see it’s a challenge to see everything in one day! There are a couple of money/time saving tips for you:
- you can pre book tickets to jump the queue at the entrance
- make mates with a member and you as a guest get 25% off! Members also get 10% off in the shop and some discounts on food.
One of the other things to consider are toilets, there are enough and they are well signposted. Maybe it was a bit easier for us with cousin previously working on site so we got to find some of the toilets that are in funny places!
We did our normal family day out trick of taking our own packet lunch with us so I can't really comment on the price of food in the restaurants etc. The only thing I do know is that for an ice cream tub and a water my cousin paid £6 odd.... make of that what you will!
Depending on the age of your kids another key consideration is the number of play areas. Well there are nearly as many climbing frames as there are animals! Every corner you turn round there is somewhere for the kids to let off some steam.
One thing I haven't mentioned yet, maybe due to the stillness in my legs still, is the fact that the whole zoo is located on the side of a very steep hill! It was a bit of a battle getting the pushchair to the top of the zebra enclosure and I would have been nervous of giving this job to my wife had I not been there. There is a mini bus to shuttle people up to the top but I believe it is only for disabled people and not for all.
Positives from the day
- great viewing of the animals
- friendly helpful staff
- lots to see and do
- parking on site
- choices for eating (picnic if you brought your own or restaurants/cafes round the site)
- initial big queue to get in (it was half term)
- size of the site so lots of walking
- THE HILL
- not loads of indoor places if the weather turns
- difficult viewing of the penguin walk if you are not early.
On the whole a great day and will be back when little on gets a bit bigger. we would again take our packet lunch and plan the route round the big things we wanted to see rather than just starting at one end and seeing how it goes.
All of the photos in the blog are mine, I am a professional photographer but due to how close you can get to the animals there are plenty of places to get some cool photos.
Thanks Gavin - we love Edinburgh zoo. They don't mind taking anyone to the top of the hill in the bus - something to bear in mind for future visits. We always pack a picnic too!