As the UK’s largest zoo, set across 600-acres atop the Dunstable Downs, Whipsnade has so much to offer parents and pre-schoolers.
Home to almost 10,000 animals, ranging from brightly coloured butterflies to gigantic elephants, your little one will love spotting their favourites as they embark on an adventure like no other at Whipsnade. Here’s our top tips for a great day out with your wild child.
- You’ll begin your day at the ZSL Whipsnade Zoo visitor centre. With a coffee bar serving up a delicious range of hot drinks and food, it’s the perfect place for a snack stop and potty-break.
The gift shop is also here – it can get busy towards the end of the day, so why not have a quick browse at our educational and engaging zoovenirs or pick up a Zoo Guidebook before setting off on your day.
- First up, no zoo visit is complete with a p-p-p-peek at the penguins. Whipsnade Zoo is home to two different types of penguins, African Blackfooted and Rockhopper penguins.
These flightless birds provide endless giggles with their comical waddles – can your little one stick out their hands and do a penguin impression?
- Whipsnade’s Aquarium is a must-see for all, especially children. The only Aquarium dedicated to the conservation of freshwater fish, the floor-to-ceiling tanks, mesmerising projections on the floor and sounds of bubbling water provide a unique sensory experience.
Fish are excellent at playing hide and seek – it’s how they protect themselves from predators. See how many fish you can spot hiding inside shells or behind sea plants.
- Once you’ve resurfaced from Whipsnade’s underwater world, it’s time to embark on a tropical adventure in the Butterfly House. Look out for the very hungry caterpillars hanging in their cocoons in our interactive metamorphosis zone, waiting to emerge as beautiful butterflies.
Keep your eyes peeled for our West African dwarf crocodiles. Little ones can get an up-close view of the miniature crocs who may be basking on land or lurking in their underwater home.
- Around now, you’re probably getting hungry yourselves and ready for feeding time at the zoo. Our restaurants and food outlets are serving limited menus at the moment, or if you’d prefer to bring your own food, we’ve got plenty of picnic areas dotted around the zoo.
At the Base Camp Restaurant we’ve made life easy for you. Order and pay via your phone, and we will bring your food to you – all you have to do is choose what you’re going to eat.
- Energy levels restored, it’s time for some more fun! Whipsnade Zoo’s brand new Hullabazoo Adventure Playground is the ideal spot for pre-schoolers to go wild. With rope bridges, swings, tunnels and a sand park they’ll be able to embrace their inner-monkey and clamber away!
Due to social distancing guidance, we have to limit the number of children in the play area at busy times – visit on a weekday when it’s quieter in the zoo to play for as long as you like!
- Home to massive elephants, powerful rhinos and towering giraffes, you’ll be sure to make a big impression on your little one’s day, by introducing them to Whipsnade’s largest animals.
Our herd of Asian elephants are a family group – and while our toddlers are a little bigger than yours, their playful nature isn’t that much different. Look out for Beth our youngest elephant rolling around in the grass and sand!
We’re sure that you’ll want to come back again, so why not check out our Zoo Membership? You can visit us at Whipsnade as often as you like, and our sister site at, ZSL London Zoo and be the first to know about future events and promotions.
Did you know?
- Whipsnade Zoo celebrated its 90th anniversary this year – the Zoo may have been around for nine decades, but it’s still young at heart!
- You must pre-book your visit, including for your little one. While those under three are free, pre-booking their ticket helps us to manage the numbers on site and ensure we’re providing you with a safe and secure day out.
- You can drive your car around Whipsnade Zoo – perfect if you’re worried about your little one’s legs (or your own!). Just drive up to the gate and pay a small fee on arrival.
- There are lots of secluded benches and areas around the zoo where you can feed your little one in peace, or simply take some time out for a moment.
- Whipsnade Zoo has its own indoor soft play zone! Book online for Hullabazoo Indoor Play the day before your visit to secure your time slot.
Fancy a whole year of wonder-full days out for the whole family?
Pop in again and again all year round with free entry to the Zoo by becoming a Zoo member. Plan plenty of great days out for your family this summer to create memories that last a lifetime.
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