[GIFTED] Day Out at Newquay Zoo

We've just returned from a fun-filled family holiday in Cornwall, which has been our go-to destination for the last few years. With so many beautiful beaches and exciting attractions for the boys to explore, it's the sort of place that's just impossible to get bored of!
This time around we made it our mission to visit loads of places in and around Newquay, but the best day out by far was spent at Newquay Zoo.

Newquay Zoo is tucked away within the gardens of Trenance Park, just outside of the town centre. There are car parks directly outside the entrance, which also serve the nearby parks and other local amenities. Being a public car park meant there was a charge to park there but we agreed that it was more than worth it for the ease of access to the Zoo.

On arrival we were welcomed by a smiley, friendly member of staff. She told us everything we needed to know about our visit and handed us the clearest, most detailed map I think I've ever seen at an attraction! We used this to plan our day and find out when the feeding times were. The boys were also given free activity booklets, which were full of colouring pages, puzzles and a 'then and now' trail to celebrate the Zoo's 50th anniversary.

Armed with lots of information, we headed through the gates and into the Zoo. The first thing I noticed was that it was quite busy (this was no surprise really, given that it was the middle of August!) but it didn't actually feel crowded at all because of how well spread out everything was.

Throughout our visit we were really struck by how many opportunities there were to get up close to the animals. Our first stop was the Tropical House and straight away we had birds flying over and hopping around our ankles (Jacob spends nearly every school run trying to sneak up on pigeons, so you can imagine how happy this made him!) Downstairs we found the Amphibian Room which was home to chameleons, snakes, frogs and geckos. The boys were totally fascinated by these animals and loved by how clearly they were able to see them.

Next up was the Village Farm where we found some more familiar animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, ducks and pygmy goats. This was a lovely, calm area of the zoo, making it ideal for younger children. We were able to get right up close to these animals too and the boys even had the opportunity to walk amongst the goats (although they got as far as opening the gate before changing their minds!) Instead, they spent ages stroking two baby goats who both seemed to love all the attention! We didn't have far to go to get the boys cleaned up afterwards as there was a hand washing station right by the exit to the farm, complete with large sinks at child height and lots of antibacterial soap.

Of course most zoo animals aren't for stroking but, even still, it felt like we were within touching distance of them because of the way the enclosures were designed. I've mentioned in previous posts that the boys' attention spans aren't the best (especially when there's so much to see and do around them!) but being able to get such a good view of the animals meant that they were constantly entertained at Newquay Zoo. In fact, some of the enclosures had multiple viewing areas so we could see animals doing different things depending on where they were. The best example of this was the lynx enclosure which was on two levels and allowed us to catch a glimpse of a brand new cub playing with its parents!

By this point we were starting to work up an appetite so we decided to stop for some lunch. It took us a while to decide where to eat though as there was so much choice! Picnics are welcome at Newquay Zoo so if you're planning ahead then it's worth knowing that there are plenty of designated picnic areas all across the site.

For snacks and ice creams, there's a Snack Bar in the far corner of the Zoo with a play area right next to it, making it perfect for a quick pit-stop.

Right in the middle of the Zoo is the Lazy Lion Grill, which serves burgers (including vegetarian options), snacks, drinks and ice creams to take away.

Near to the entrance and exit is Cafe Lemur, where we eventually chose to eat. Out of all the food outlets, this one had the widest selection - there were freshly made sandwiches, baguettes, paninis, salads, pasties, homemade soup and jacket potatoes for adults as well as lunch boxes for children. After ordering our food we found a shady spot to eat by the lake, with lovely views across the water to Lemur Island. The boys' new activity books kept them happy while we waited for our lunch to arrive (which wasn't very long at all) and when it did they were giddy with excitement as a friendly peacock came over to join us (that was until it came closer and they started to fear for their crisps...!)

Once we'd finished our own lunches, it was time to go and see the lions eat theirs. Without a doubt, the feeds and talks were the highlight of the day for all of us - not only was it amazing to see the animals being fed and behaving as they would in the wild, but it was also fascinating to learn so much about them.

It was clear just from watching a small part of their day that the team at Newquay Zoo are really knowledgable and genuinely passionate about what they do. As we watched the lions, a member of the Education Team (Alex) addressed the audience. He was so engaging and instead of just reeling off facts, his talk felt more like an informal chat. He addressed a lot of common misconceptions, such as how much space the lions need (it turns out that they actually spend around 20 hours of the day sleeping so they don't need as much as you'd think!) and how happy they are there (the lions at Newquay Zoo were born in captivity so they've never known anything different).

I've got to admit that I've always had mixed feelings about wild animals being kept in captivity but I can honestly say that all of that changed during our visit to Newquay Zoo. I was so impressed with the information that the Education Team delivered and with the work that's being done by the Zoo to protect animals from the threats they face in the wild.

Our absolute favourite animals were the penguins and we had so much fun watching their feeding time! Alex was also on hand to deliver this talk and we were really impressed that he knew just as much about them as he did the lions. As he talked, one of the penguins followed his shadow around and wouldn't leave him alone no matter where he went, which the boys found hilarious!

There are 23 Humboldt penguins that live at Newquay Zoo, each with their own personalities. We learnt a little bit about some of the stand-out characters in the colony and, more importantly, what can be done to protect their counterparts in the wild. Being so little, it's hard to know how much of this information the boys took in but it was fantastic to see the Zoo actively teaching children (and their parents!) about wildlife conservation.

After a few more animal encounters, there was just enough time for the boys to explore the natural play areas hidden amongst the trees. Alongside the African Savanna was a Dragon Maze made from hedges that they loved running through and giggling whenever they went the wrong way! Once we'd successfully made it out of the maze, we climbed the steps to the Tarzan Trail - an woodland obstacle course for children (and big kids, too!) Finley was so happy up there and although Jacob was a bit too small for some of the obstacles, they both LOVED whizzing down the giant slide at the end of the trail!

We were all on foot during our visit but, since the path to the Tarzan Trail led us up lots of steps, I did notice that this was one of the only parts of Newquay Zoo that wasn't suitable for buggies or wheelchairs. The vast majority of the site is fully accessible but if you want to plan ahead then there's loads of information on the Newquay Zoo website (there's even a detailed accessibility map that you can download!)

There was so much to see and do that we couldn't actually fit it all into our visit (which is really saying something considering how quickly the boys darted from one area to the next!) They loved that there were so many animals to see and so many different environments to explore, each one with a completely unique feel to it. We all had so much fun and left wishing that we could stay even longer, so if you're thinking of visiting Newquay Zoo then make sure you get there early and make a full day of it!

As we left the Zoo, there was one last thing that really impressed us. The exit took us through the gift shop so we stopped to have a look around (and treat the boys to some animal figures!) and discovered that all of their sweets were wrapped in biodegradable alternatives to plastic and there was no unnecessary packaging to be found anywhere in the shop! Better still, all profits from the gift shop go directly towards supporting the Zoo's conservation work. It was fantastic to visit a place that not only sets a brilliant example but also shares our own values, so well done Newquay Zoo! 

Newquay Zoo is open every day of the year (except Christmas Day) from 10am. At the time of writing, ticket prices are as follows:
Adult (16+) - £15.95
Child (3-15 years) - £12.00
Child (under 3 years) - Free
Saver Ticket (2 adults, 2 children) - £49.95
Reduced admission rates are available for senior citizens, students, visitors with disabilities and carers.
To plan your visit and find out more, go to:

Disclaimer: Two adult tickets were kindly gifted to us by Newquay Zoo in exchange for social media content and an honest blog review. We paid for Finley's ticket in full and Jacob's admission was free as he is under 3 years old. We covered all associated costs including parking, lunch and souvenirs. All views expressed within this post and across social media are our own. 

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