We’ve been enjoying the Stay Play Explore Family Fun package and decided to make our first visit to Twycross Zoo. The Zoo is not far from Junction 11 of the M42 and is well signposted. We love wild animals so were keen to explore and arrived about 10 minutes before the zoo itself opened.
There is an ample car park which is free and I also spotted signs for a Nature Reserve – more on that later. I’d expected to queue outside and wait for the ticket booths to open, but was in for a pleasant surprise. The Himalaya food hall complex is undercover, offers toilet facilities, cafe, and a soft play facility before you’ve even entered the zoo itself.
We did find that some of the toilets could do with a little attention, doors that didn’t lock and taps that didn’t work weren’t the greatest first impression.
The cafe area looks out onto the Snow Leopard enclosure and although the leopard was being rather shy on our visit, the enclosure made a nice backdrop for our refreshment break.
Twycross Zoo is split into a number of different zones where you can meet animals from around the world. This is a very walkable zoo for young children to explore safely. It’s buggy friendly in all areas and my 5 year old Monkey managed all day without any complaints.
Elephants and Giraffe are always very popular here and as their enclosures were the furthest away from the entrance we decided to head straight there and work backwards through the areas. This area has been refurbished and you can really tell the difference compared to the majority of the zoo. You feel as if you are walking through the bush as you come to the Giraffe house and Elephant enclosure. There are various viewing areas to see the animals and you can also go inside the Giraffe house. The baby Elephant was a big hit all round.
There is a large refurbishment project underway to create a Gibbon Forest and it looks as if it will be quite impressive. The zoo maps state its opening in summer 2015, but it seemed some way from completion when we visited. Something to enjoy on a future visit, although my construction mad son loved watching all the diggers and dumpers at work!
There are a number of different primate enclosures around Twycross Zoo. We were lucky to see Orangutang, Chimpanzees, Gorillas and many other monkeys and lemurs on our visit. We stayed for ages watching two brothers play fighting, with their mother breaking them up from time to time. Many of the primates were behind reflective glass which made photography tricky at times, but we still got to enjoy watching them.
I remember seeing giant tortoises in Mauritius many years ago, and Twycross Zoo has a pair and they really are a sight to behold.
Being big bug enthusiasts, the Butterfly Forest was high on our list of must see attractions and we weren’t disappointed.
There were some beautiful specimens flying around and a number of species we hadn’t seen before. We even witnessed a newly emerged butterfly being released into the enclosure.
I’d promised Monkey a ride on the train I’d noticed on the Twycross Zoo map, but sadly this wasn’t running, there were branches across the line, so I’m not sure if it’s closed for good or not.
For those liking less exotic animals there is a farm and pet area.
There are a number of eateries dotted around the Zoo and amble picnicking facilities. We had sandwiches from the Wet N Wild Lodge, and although the selection wasn’t that wide-ranging, they were tasty and reasonably priced. We found a number of play ground areas along with a lovely splash park that looked like great fun.
Although I felt that the primates were the largest contingent of residents at Twycross Zoo, there was still plenty of other animals to keep Monkey interested.
When you’ve finished exploring the different areas of the Zoo its worth heading over to the Nature Reserve on the far side of the car park. The trail takes around 15-20 minutes to complete, with information points along the way. There’s a bird hide to be found at the far end of the trail and we were surprised to find we didn’t meet anyone else whilst we were on our walk. It’s a little gem of tranquility and a great place to spot mini beasts.
I can thoroughly recommend the Stay Play Explore Package, it really is a great deal for families wanting to explore attractions in Leicestershire.
disclaimer: we were given a free Stay Play Explore package in exchange for this review