Edinburgh Zoo’s Creatures Great and Small

A closer inspection of the biomes using a magnifying glass

Hugo’s big wish for his birthday was to go to Edinburgh Zoo. He’s a real animal lover, and tigers are his favourite, so what better place to celebrate turning 11? Luckily we were given the opportunity to review the zoo and its new exhibit, Creepy Crawlies, so perfect timing really!

Where is Edinburgh Zoo?

It is located on Corstorphine Hill, in the Corstorphine area on the west side of Edinburgh. It isn’t too far from the city centre, and there are several bus services which stop nearby. All travel options are detailed on their website, as well as parking details. We travelled by car and parked on-site, for a cost of £4.

Planning your visit in advance is a good idea,

as there are over 80 acres of parkland to explore! It was especially important for us, as we’ve mentioned before that Cal has mobility problems. I also fell off the loft ladder a couple of weeks ago and have been suffering with sore ribs and leg pain, so a right motley crew we’ve become! In actual fact, most small children would struggle with a lot of walking too, so it is worth planning in advance to pinpoint the things you don’t want to miss, and the route you want to take. The Edinburgh Zoo website is brilliant for this, with downloadable maps, apps and even webcams!

View from the top of the hill at Edinburgh Zoo
View from the top of the hill

So for us, the must-see animals were the tigers (in the Tiger Trail), giant pandas (you need to book a time slot for this), and the Creepy Crawlies. The tigers are right at the top of the hill, so we had a small dilemma. We knew that Cal would struggle walking uphill, even with stops on the way, but was I fit for pushing Her Ladyship in a wheelchair uphill, if at all? Thankfully, Edinburgh Zoo have a mobility vehicle, a kind of minibus, which you can utilise on request, and which has various stops around the park. The brilliant part is, you can just call a mobile number and have the vehicle pick you up at one point and drop you at the next, throughout the day. So we decided to take the bus to the top of the hill and work our way back down, which is obviously the easiest way to go. This service was an absolute Godsend actually. I’ve never seen Cal so happy or relieved for a long time. It made her day that she didn’t have to worry too much about restrictions or starting her day in lots of pain or exhausted. (And ours too, far less moaning!!)

Edinburgh Zoo Mobility Vehicle
Edinburgh Zoo Mobility Vehicle

So our day got off to a flying start.

It was much quieter starting at the back of the park and working forwards too, and the views across Edinburgh were simply spectacular. We only saw one tiger, and the whole lion enclosure was not accessible, as well as the surrounding area. This meant a bit of a round trip on the tiger trail to the viewing tunnel. Now is a good time to remind you why – Cal gave me a little lecture to the same effect. Zoos like this are not just about providing animals for our entertainment. They are about breeding, conservation of species, and trying to provide as natural a habitat as possible for the animals. This may mean that, from time to time, certain animals may not be on view, as they are hiding out in their habitat, as nature intended. Or it may mean that they are inaccessible completely, as in the case of the lions who were being given some peace and privacy during their breeding season. So please don’t be too disappointed. There is plenty more to see…

Toby was keen to see the koalas. These gorgeous little sleepy-heads are truly adorable! We also got to walk among the wallaby which was a real treat. His other favourites were the Sun Bears, who didn’t fail to put on a show for us either. Right next to these was a favourite of mine, the casawary. I just love the prehistoric look of them, with that killer claw! Very Jurassic Park!

Look closely and you'll see the baby snuggled in!
Look closely and you’ll see the baby snuggled in!

Between the animal exhibits are play areas, for our own little animals to run off some of their excitement. Such a great idea! There are also places to buy refreshments, and also lots of picnic spots. The one thing I would say is that the food isn’t that cheap (we paid £26 for 2x hotdog & chips, 2x chips, and 3 drinks), so there were plenty of people eating their own food at the picnic tables. It’s good to have the choice.

So, on to the insects!

The Creepy Crawlies exhibition was in the Budongo lecture theatre, a fabulous modern building with great education facilities. The light was quite dim, so I apologise for the photos, but the biomes were fascinating, and the staff were so helpful and knowledgeable. There was a fantastic installation where the kids could climb under the table and pop their heads up inside the tank in glass domes. It’s quite difficult to show in a picture, but fabulous in real life!

We also got to hold the Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches, even if I had to go first before the boys followed! We had a very close look at the giant stick insects too – they look more fierce than they are! I’d really recommend bringing your kids here. They can get close to some fascinating creatures, and learn so much about them too. The exhibit runs until 29th October.

When our time came for the panda viewing, Cal was ecstatic to find that one of them (the male), was out and about, chilling out and chewing his bamboo in style! The boys weren’t so impressed, even after we explained how rare these animals were, and how people come to Edinburgh Zoo from all over the country and even further afield, to see them. Apparently they were ‘boring’!

Edinburgh Zoo Giant Panda
Edinburgh Zoo Giant Panda

They were more keen to see the penguins, these funny, entertaining little guys who made us all laugh. The penguin area is vast! (Edinburgh Zoo has Europe’s largest outdoor penguin pool, at 65 metres long). It’s great to watch them diving and swimming around. We didn’t realise until we walked around, that there is an area to watch them actually swimming underwater. The penguins really put on a show, coming over and showing off! We were also there in time for the famous penguin parade, where some of the penguins take a walk with the keepers around the path and back to their enclosure.

Edinburgh Zoo penguin showing us the way!
Edinburgh Zoo penguin showing us the way!

There were so many other animals, too numerous to mention…

As my good lady wife is great at recording the events, I’ll share a few more of her photos and a video with you.

We would thoroughly recommend a visit to Edinburgh Zoo. It is fabulous for families, and people of all ages, and there is so much to gain. It is both fun and educational, and the staff are fantastically knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the animals they care for.

We would go back again and again, and I’m sure we would see and learn something new each time. We are really looking forward to the Giant Lanterns of China, an evening exhibition running from 1st December until 25th February. It’s a display of over 450 giant lanterns, producing 34 huge animal-themed installations. It sounds fabulous!

Disclosure: We were given entry tickets to Edinburgh Zoo in return for this review. As always, all opinions are entirely honest and our own. 

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Click through for our review of Edinburgh Zoo, including the exhibition of Creepy Crawlies, and a gret video of all the cute animals!
Edinburgh Zoo’s creatures great and small



24 Replies to “Edinburgh Zoo’s Creatures Great and Small”

  1. Have visited Edinburgh twice but never the zoo. It will be on our agenda the next time…. my son will love it!

    1. It’s so difficult as there’s so much to see and do in Edinburgh, but it’s definitely worth making the time to visit the zoo if you can.

  2. Aw I’ve visited once and had to be pushed round in a wheelchair courtesy of the lovely Zoë! Had I have known about the mini bus to take you to various points, we could have used them instead! Great advice for when we next visit! I’d love to go with Ad and the girls.. it still looks like lots of fun! Love the pic of the penguin.. they fascinate me, I could watch them all day! Fab review and pics x x

    1. Thanks Sue, yes the girls would love it for sure. You should come and visit us then go up to Edinburgh for the day x

  3. Edinburgh is a place I’d love to being the kids. Posts like this make me bump it further up the list!
    Sinéad recently posted…The Stork Box #ReviewMy Profile

    1. It really is great. We don’t know it that well, we should visit much more often.

  4. Edinburgh zoo looks fab and is on our list for when we visit in October xx

    1. Oh fab, you’ll love it!

  5. Sounds amazing! I’d love to see the giant panda. I’ve never been to Edinburgh, but my husband loved it when he visited. Hope to visit some day. Xx
    Rosie @ Little Fish recently posted…Living Arrows: 34/52 Last Day of Forest SchoolMy Profile

    1. Everybody I know says they love Edinburgh! We’ve only just scratched the surface of it really.

  6. Susan (You Are My Sunshine) says: Reply

    The zoo looks amazing! I’m so jealous that you have this on your doorstep. The creepy crawlies look amazing

    1. I know, we’re so lucky to live so close to Edinburgh now. We really should make the most of it!

  7. That looks like a great day out. Awesome birthday experience too.

    1. Thanks, yes Hugo had a great time.

  8. We love visiting the zoo, this one will definitely be added to our must see list! Thanks so much for sharing with #Blogstravaganza xx
    The Tale of Mummyhood recently posted…My First Scalextric – Giveaway!My Profile

    1. It’s a great place, I’m sure you’d love it!

  9. I love Edinburgh and have visited four times but I have never made it to the zoo. What a mistake as it looks brilliant! I might have to arrange another trip to the city so I can visit the zoo 🙂

    1. That’s a long way for you too! We really should go more often now we’re so close. Your kids would love the zoo, I’m sure x

  10. […] of a Star Wars party was born! We weren’t going to have a party as Hugo also wanted to go to Edinburgh zoo, but we decided on something small-scale, just a few friends around, maybe a movie and a cake and […]

  11. I’d love to see a giant panda – they are my fave. I love zoos. We are actually off to Paradise Wildlife Park the weekend after next and we can’t wait as they have tigers and wolves. Edinburgh Zoo looks fantastic. Sarah #FabFridayPost
    Sarah Stockley recently posted…#ExplorerKids Linky – Week 10My Profile

    1. Oh enjoy the tigers and wolves! The pandas are gorgeous, well we only saw the male, but he was very chilled out (as you will have seen on the video) x

  12. This looks like a lovely zoo to visit. & look at that gorgeous view form the top! So very nice! I also love those black bears in the video. So very cute! Thank you so much for linking up with us on #FabFridayPost x

    1. Yes it’s a fabulous zoo in a fabulous place. Thanks for reading and watching x

  13. […] run in other European countries such as Norway, Germany and Finland. We saw the scheme in play at Edinburgh Zoo in last night’s programme, and it is due to be rolled out in Scotland […]

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