It is a huge site; we clocked up 18000+ steps and didn’t see everything. We arrived at 10am and left at 4pm having not been into the butterfly house or the Lemur enclosure. I really liked that wallabies are allowed to roam freely around the zoo too.
The zoo is split up into 4 zones; Base Camp, Africa, Europe and Asia. Animals native to the 3 continents are housed in those areas and Base Camp includes facilities such as indoor and outdoor play areas, the birds of the world arena and the discover center.
The main reason for our visit was the vast collection of animals on site, particularly elephants. We’ve seen lions, tigers and polar bears, among others, at Yorkshire Wildlife Park but they don’t have elephants.
They didn’t disappoint (apart from when daddy ragamuffin accidentally stepped into a big muddy puddle outside their enclosure!). Ragamuffin had been napping in our Isara baby carrier when we got to the elephants. Luckily there were a few benches nearby for us to sit and wait for her to wake up. When she woke up and saw the elephants her little face lit up. She was delighted to find a couple of elephant calves in the herd too.
We also managed to get really close up to a white rhino inside the rhino house. Normally ragamuffin doesn’t have much time for rhinos but she took a real shine to seeing this one so close up.
It was great to see a hippo in the flesh too. I had never appreciated just how big hippos are until I saw one basking in the sun here at Whipsnade.
Places to Eat
There were several places to buy food spaced out around the zoo. Normally we would take a packed lunch on a day trip, but we were staying in a hotel so had nowhere to store food or ice packs. Knowing that there were plenty of places to eat made our trip to Whipsnade Zoo with a toddler a bit easier.
We ate at the Lookout Cafe, in the Africa Zone. I was pleasantly surprised with the food on offer, especially for ragamuffin who ate better than we did. She had a kid’s bag which contained a sandwich, carton of juice, bag of pombears, an apple and a pack of raisins. Daddy and I had a sandwich and a drink each and overall thought the prices were quite reasonable.
It wasn’t very busy when we got there either, there was plenty of space to sit, with stunning views of the surrounding countryside and we didn’t have to queue for food either.
It is possible to take cars on site and to drive around the zoo. In fact there is one area specifically to be seen in a car or on the zoo train. For me this was a big negative for visiting Whipsnade Zoo with a toddler. I felt on edge the whole time, making sure that ragamuffin wasn’t on the road or going to run into the road. It made it into quite a stressful day if I’m honest.
Overall it is a great place for a family day out. I think I might think twice about returning to Whipsnade Zoo with a toddler purely because of the cars on site. Ragamuffin wants to walk the majority of time and likes the freedom to run around which we couldn’t give her in this instance.
The number and variety of animals to see is the best I’ve seen, and the food and ice cream on site was good value for money. As I said, a good all-round family day out however you may want to think twice about taking a headstrong toddler.