Edinburgh Zoo is a brilliant day out with the kids, it lets you get out of the city for a while, for a change of scenery and a break from shopping. The kids will thank you, they would mostly much prefer gazing at animals than clothes. If the kids love their animals as much as my daughter doe you can even splash out on a Keeper Experience at Edinburgh Zoo, you can read my review of our experience below. It's easy to get to, Lothian buses number 12, 26, and 31 can be boarded near both Waverley and Haymarket train stations as well as many stops in the city centre and there is a bus stop directly outside the zoo. Make sure if you visit to wear comfortable shoes, the zoo is on a hill side and can be steep in places. There is a small bus which takes you from the entrance to the top of the zoo, where you will find the zebras and then you can slowly make your way back down if you don't fancy walking up hill.
Edinburgh Zoo prices
It is slightly cheaper to buy your tickets online but they can be purchased on the door too (prices as of April 2019)
Adult £17.95 (online), £19.95 (on the door)
Child 3-15 £9.00 (online), £9.95 (on the door)
Child -3 Free
Concession £15.50 (online), £17.50 (on the door)
Car Park £4.00
Edinburgh Zoo tickets can be bought online here
Edinburgh Zoo animals
There are so many animals here with many in their own well designed enclosures.
The Giant Panda Exhibit is where you'll meet the UK's only two giant pandas, Tian Tian (Sweetie) and Yang Guang (Sunshine). They are kept separately as they are solitary animals and are only brought together to breed. The viewing gallery runs between them and you can often see one of them playing around on their swing beds, or with bamboo shoots. They have an outdoor area too with wooden climbing frames, lots of greenery, tree trunks, caves and ponds. During the quiet season there is no need to book a viewing time but during peak season you'll be able to book a slot when you buy your tickets.
Youc can watch the pandas any time by viewing the Edinburgh Zoo Panda Cam here
Penguin Rock has recently had a major revamp and is looking wonderful. There are three types of penguin to see - the King penguin, the Gentoo and the Rockhopper. Watch as they dive and swim in their huge pool (the largest outdoor penguin pool in Europe), play in the waterfall and sleep on the rocks. Don't miss the Penguin Parade which is on once a day. It is voluntary for the penguins so you never know how many want to venture out for a walk but there will usually be a few. If none want to go for a walk the parade will be cancelled but it doesn't happen very often. If there are baby penguins you'll love watching from the viewing area as they learn to shuffle around and are fed by the parents.
The Budongo Trail is where you'll find the cheeky chimpanzees in their huge indoor and outdoor play area. The Brilliant Birds exhibitions is an amazing walkthrough filled with exotic birds and you can walk among them You can see the Koalas at the Koala Territory and you'll meet Goonaroo, Alinga, Tanami and little baby Kalari. The Wallaby Outback is another walk through, this time with some Swamp Wallabes.
That's not all though, there is also (are you ready?) Lions, Flamingos, Lemurs, Tamarin Monkeys, Squirrel Monkeys, Pelicans, Baboons, Anteaters, Rhinos, Zebras, SunBears, Meerkats, Otters, Tortoises, Hippos, Red Pandas, Hogs and Wildcats.
Review of the Junior Keeper Experience
I booked my daughter a Zoo keeper experience at Edinburgh Zoo for her birthday. We hadn’t been to the zoo for months so had been looking forward to it for a while. Taylor is animal-daft so was fairly excited by the time it came around. We arrived 10 minutes before the zoo opened at 9am, but not before a quick brekkie at Toby Carvery along the road (always handy). We arrived at reception with our cameras and wellies in tow, where we were greeted by our host, Sam. There was no queuing for us as we were ushered past the line of people, into the shop, to fill out some forms. Then it was up to the zoo keepers’ building where Sam explained how our day would go and what we would be doing and my daughter was given her exclusive Keeper Experience t-shirt.
First up was cleaning out the home of the Azara’s Agouri, and the Pudu, mucking out all the rubbish and putting in fresh hay straw and food, it didn’t take long but, as the keeper explained, it's an important part of the job!
We then met Dylan the armadillo, who isn’t out for the public to see, so we felt very privileged! Especially as we found out he has starred in a Harry Potter film! We made up his food and took him out to the grass for a run around, and my god he was fast. We also had a quick hold of a white owl and my daughter fed him something gross, I don’t know how she does it but nothing phases her.
We had a walk down to the bottom of the zoo to visit the pelicans in their lake. This was definitely my favourite part of the day. Taylor got to feed them some fish, each one had a different coloured bracelet on their ankle so it was game trying to make sure they had the same amount of fish each. These birds are gorgeous, and have loads of personality, and are a little bit mad!
We had a bit of spare time before we visited the next animal so we went back to the keepers hut for a bit of hands-on with a bearded dragon and the cutest little mini hedgehog (not it’s official name! I must remember to write things down)
Then it was on to visit the lemurs where Taylor and the keeper sat inside with them and fed them fruit while they clambered all over them. They were in for about 30 minutes. If you don’t want to pay for the full experience you can buy the Lemur magic moment on it’s own and I can definitely recommend it, it’s fantastic. The photo below is a bit dodgy, but it has to be done through the window so it’s as good as I was getting, oops.
Lastly was a walk down to the penguin enclosure where Taylor was invited in to feed them their fish while everybody watched! They really are the cutest little things and they have a brilliant big enclosure themed beautifully with loads of water for them to play around in. If you go when the babies have hatched you can see them sitting with their parents under their sun umbrellas.
Taylor loved her Keeper experience and I felt it was well worth the money
Edinburgh Zoo experiences
If you are over 18 you can take part in the Full Day Keeper Experience. It costs £250 off peak and £260 at peak time and includes the exclusive Keeper T-shirt and certificate. You get to prepare and deliver meals for the animals, make enrichments for the enclosure, have a special hands-on magic moment with one of the animals and learn what the keepers do on a daily basis, it's a brilliant opportunity to get behind-the-scenes. The price includes lunch and your entrance fee and there will only ever be two people during the experience. You can also book a half day Keeper Experience, it costs £150 off peak and £160 at peak time. The Junior Keeper Experience which we did costs £150 for three hours and the child has to be accompanied by an adult, who is not responsible for any other children on the day as they will be required to go behind the scenes too. None of the experiences run on a Saturday but can be booked for any other day.
Hotels near Edinburgh Zoo
If you want to stay near Edinburgh Zoo there is a good selection of hotels nearby. The Holiday Inn (Check availability and book here) is just across the road. The Torfin is a beautiful hotel which gets excellent reviews and is close by, check availability and book here and The White Lady at Wetherspoons, whose rooms are amazing is just along the road (click here for prices
Please do let me know in the comments below if you have a keeper experience at Edinburgh Zoo, I'd love to know how you get on.