Stanway, Colchester, Essex
Tel: 01206 331292
About Colchester Zoo
Colchester Zoo is located south of Colchester at the A1124 exit of the A12, and is a super family attraction at any time of the year. Opened in 1963, Colchester Zoo is a leading conservation and breeding centre as well as a fun family day out.
Covering over 60 acres and with 500,000 visitors a year, Colchester Zoo has endangered species like Komodo Dragons, Waldrapp Ibis, Amur Leopards and Amur Tigers, and boasts some of the premier big cat and primate collections of Europe.
Colchester Zoo’s Wilds Of Asia exhibit has gibbons and Orangutans, one of which, Rajang, is 39 years old! They breakfast with their keepers each day at 11.30, and a new enclosure opens in summer 2008. The family attraction’s next stop-off is Parrot Rock, with its talkative Macaws, while the Kalahari Centre has a top function and conference suite facility.
Kalahari Capers is a soft play area with toddlers zone, face painting and a coffee shop for ticket holders who want to sit back and relax.
An enclosure for two Sloths also features Tamarins, Tortoises and Iguanas, with visitors walking through a re-created Amazon rainforest.
The Desert Life building near Fantasy Land houses the seasonal Easter Wonderland, Haunted Forest at Halloween, and Santa’s Christmas Enchanted Grotto, and it’s being developed as a Discovery Centre for Christmas 2008.
Colchester Zoo’s Iguana Forest has four emerald Green Iguanas rescued by HM Customs from illegal importation, while the Ark Adventure Play Area has a large seating area for chilling out.
The family attraction’s nearby Customer Services books Birthday Parties, School tours and Groups, while the Aquatic Zone has an Aquatic House teeming with numerous species of fish in large tanks. The Koi Pools are adjacent to reptile houses for Monitors and snakes, and the Small Mammals enclosure includes playful Meerkats, Marmosets, Mongoose and Porcupines. Feeding sessions liven up any family day out, and so a trap to see these critters is just the ticket.
Equally entertaining are Humboldt Penguins at the Penguin Shores, which are fed twice a day on a platform, while an underwater viewing window allows ticket holders to see the flightless fellas cut through the water at up to 10 mph. They get hungry!
Heart of the Amazon follows and has Squirrel monkeys and Agoutis, while Playa Patagonia features sealions in tanks holding 500,000 gallons of water and a 24-metre-long viewing tunnel – the largest straight underwater tunnel in Europe.
Colchester Zoo has two more nearby primate enclosures for Baboons and breeding Capuchins, the latter producing a baby in 2007, importantly adding to the mere 300 left in the wild.
Finally for the Aquatic Zone, the new Inca Trail has more penguins, Spider Monkeys and a picnic seating area with views over the whole of Colchester Zoo.
The Medellin Monkeys is another region of the family attraction with new-borns, including Cherry Crowned Mangabey. For many visitors, big cats are worth the price of the ticket alone and Colchester Zoo’s Bengal White tiger, Sasha, weighs in at 40 stone. He feeds at White Tiger Valley each day as part of a Big Cat feed Tour. Ticket holders can observe from a viewing area and need not worry – they’re not on offer!
On the other side of White Tiger Valley are Margay and Giant Anteaters, while the Gardens & Undercover Picnic Area have an enchanting waterfall and a "Picnic Shop". A family day Out Of Africa next takes in the Falconry Display Arena, with its soaring and diving kestrels and hawks, the Gelada Plateau baboons, wooden walkways up to the Lemur Islands, and Mongoose Canyon, with resident Red Pandas to boot.
The Valley Zone’s Lion Rock has African lions and a spiral staircase that leads to a viewing level, while a tunnel goes through to the felines’ night quarters. Fennec Foxes and Sand Cats take their chances, and at the Edge of Africa are a group of Hyenas, the UK’s largest whoop of Mandrills (over 25), and breeding West African Warthogs. Their hilarious mud-bathing livens up a family day out and contrasts with the majestic nonchalance of the nearby Cheetahs.
The Spirit of Africa enclosure sees six elephants saunter around their large outdoor paddocks, and ticket holders even have a chance to feed them – not something you’ll get on your average family day out!
The Kingdom of the Wild houses Giraffes, White Rhino, Ostrich, Kudu, Aardvark, Pygmy Hippo, Monkeys, Cranes and Zebra in a swaying savannah that can be viewed from a first-floor covered balcony, while reptiles are represented by monitor Lizards. A Tanganyika Road Train can also be taken by ticket holders, journeying around Colchester Zoo’s lakes and taking in flamingos, Baboons, Tiger, Lemurs, Iberian Wolf and Jackals.
Further diversifying the appeal of this grand family day out, The Kidz Zone has Theatre displays and shows when Macaws fly over head, there’s a chance to stroke a python or a cockroach, and to watch a Lemur jump about the stage. Just the ticket for a fun family day out.
Tiger Taiga features the Amur (Siberian) Tiger, with just 300 left in the wild, before Call of the Wild showcases Canadian Timber Wolves and the World of Wings spotlights birds from around the world –Andean Condor, Great Grey Owls and Vultures included – which is a family attraction in itself. Worth the ticket alone if you’re a twitcher!
The Dragon of Komodo exhibit features two Dragons, and there is a talk about them every day. Opposite, a pack of African Hunting Dogs sunbathe in their den and demolish food at feeding time!
In the Heights Zone, Wilds of Asia has Red Pandas observable from the Lemur Bridge in the roof of their enclosure, along with Chevrotains, Burmese Pythons and Southern Tamanduas. The adjacent Pallas Cat enclosure leads on to a highlight of a family day out to Colchester Zoo, Chimp World, with four generations of one family living together and entertaining as only cheeky chimps can.
Finally, Foret de Madagascar has Fossas and Geoffroy’s Cats, while ticket holders can visit the Gift shop and Ark Shop, and visit Jimmy’s Farm to see Ponies, Chinchillas, Nile Rats and Pygmy Gliders, providing further variety to a memorable family day out.
Other exotic species to spot include Gelada, Dik-Dik, Montserrat Oriole and Rock hyrax, while Colchester Zoo’s Nature Area has 1.2 hectares given to native wildlife and local conservation. Numbered among the resident species are Celery-leaved buttercup, Bog Stitchwort and Yellow Flag, Demoiselle damselfly, Song Thrush and Turtle dove.