5 of the most popular Zoos in the UK by number of visitors

There is no shortage of zoos in the UK, but which ones are the best? From those with safaris and theme parks on site to others world-leading in conservation, we highlight the most popular zoos based on the number of visitors.

Intrepid explorers – get your notepads at the ready and prepare to find out what to look out for while you’re there.

Chester Zoo

Chester ZooSome 1.8m visitors passed through the gates of Chester Zoo last year. From a rare black jaguar named Inka to a flock of bright pink Caribbean flamingos, there are more than 27,000 reasons why. Chester Zoo is a world-leading conservation charity with every entry ticket supporting its work to prevent extinction. There are 128 acres to explore, including six tropical South East Asian islands where you can take a Lazy River Boat Trip and watch out for tigers en route.

Keep your eye out for rangers hosting talks on everything from discovering Komodo Dragons to mind-boggling monkey business.

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ZSL London Zoo

London Zoo GiraffesLast year, more than one million tourists experienced a London hustle and bustle of a different kind. A monkey-filled jungle from Central Africa is just a short walk from the lush rainforests of South America, or the Land of the Lions in India. ZSL, the Zoological Society of London, is a conservation charity primarily, and lots of animals at the zoo are part of a breeding effort.

Keep your eyes out for the Sumatran tiger family – Asim, Gaysha and their offspring Zac and Crispin, born in June 2022. There are only around 500 cubs like them remaining in the wild, so it’s well worth paying them a visit.

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Colchester Zoo

Flamingos at the zooOver 100 newborns arrived at Colchester Zoo last year, including the first endangered Barbary macaques in 30 years. Colchester Zoo has its own charity, Action for the Wild, donating both financial and technical assistance to conservation projects worldwide. This includes supporting conservation research and running community conservation programmes. The zoo itself houses over 1,000 animals, plus colonies of fish and invertebrates.

Among the adorable animals, there are plenty of fierce species too. A pack of grey wolves stalk the parameters of the zoo, while a pair of the largest of the big cats – the Amur tiger – are ready to pounce.

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West Midland Safari and Leisure Park

West Midlands Safari ParkFeaturing a drive-through safari, an adventure theme park and a multi-sensory play area, the West Midland Safari and Leisure Park offers more than a traditional zoo. You can drive through yourself or take a guided minibus tour, where knowledgeable drivers will lead you through the African plains and wild Asia to the Borderlands. Last year, some 800,000 visitors got up close and personal with rhinos, giraffes, lions, tigers, elephants and more along the way.

There’s plenty to explore on foot too, with a discovery trail introducing you to red pandas, penguins and sea lions, as well as creepy crawlies and reptiles.

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ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Elephant at Whipsnade ZooAttracting 760,000 visitors in 2022, Whipsnade is a zoo on a whole new scale. The UK’s biggest, it’s set in 600 acres of panoramic scenery and rolling Chiltern Hills. Opened in 1931 by the Zoological Society London, it provides natural surroundings and plenty of space for its 10,000 animals. Among them, you’ll find elephants out on their daily walk, a troop of lemurs with their very own island and deer too, wading through a natural lake.

If the size of Whipsnade is overwhelming, fear not. Some areas are accessible by car, or you can also take a ride on the steam-powered railway.

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