10 March 2011
It's been a long time since I visited Twycross Zoo (Twycross Zoo with a Baby, and Animal Conservation) and there have been lots of changes since. This time I visited with my two children (5 year old and 3 year old) and a nephew (1 year old).
The first thing is that they have changed the pricing structure. There is a small children's funfair at the zoo which you used to have to pay for per ride, but now that is included in the cost of the admission fee. Whilst it's good that there are no additional costs inside the park it feels like the cost has gone up more than the equivalent spend on rides, especially as there were only 3 rides running, including the train, and only two of these were suitable for young children. Another thing is that they now charge for all visitors including babies and young toddlers. The cost is fairly small (£1), but this must be one of the few places that charge for babies, I hope this is not a trend that other places will follow.
We were not given any map for the zoo and there was only a few signs showing the zoo. If you don't want to pay for the additional cost of a visitor guide then you can download a map from the Zoo website and print it off before you go.
The zoo calls itself "The world primate centre" so as you can guess the zoo is predominately monkeys and apes. One of the most popular was the orang-utan family including a baby orangutan with his mother.
There are some other animals, including most of the animals you expect to see at a Zoo. This includes elephants; many other zoos have got rid of their elephants due to insufficient space, so it's good to see that Twycross has a large well designed elephant enclosure for some Asian elephants. As well as the adult elephants there is a baby elephant. In addition to the normal viewing area at the side of the wire cage the elephants can be viewed from the Uda Walawe viewing area. The Uda Walawe is a themed path which gives an insight into life in Sri Lanka as well as providing a cage free view of the Elephants. This is well worth walking the little bit further to view and is one of the best features of the zoo.
Our children also enjoyed seeing the giraffes and the other animals.
One thing we didn't get to visit was the Tropical house. This can only be viewed by guided tour and needs tickets to be collected in advance. We didn't know this until we arrived at the Tropical House late in the day and it was too late to get tickets. As a result we didn't get to go inside the Tropical. This is another thing that we would have been aware of if we had been given a map of the zoo as it is mentioned on the download map.
After looking around the animals we went to the area with the rides. There were 5 rides in total, but only 3 of these were running on the day. There was a train ride, a horse and cart roundabout and a spinning zebra ride. The first two were suitable for young children, but the zebra ride had a minimum height restriction of 1m high (1.2m unaccompanied).
Some of the toilets around the site were a bit basic without hot water, but the new restaurant and shop (outside of the main zoo) looked very impressive and had good toilets and baby changing facilities. We didn't try any food on this occasion, but it looked nice and included MSC certified sustainable fish on the menu.
We enjoyed our day out at Twycross Zoo, but the new inclusive pricing did not seam to be particularly good value for money and the lack of any map meant we missed out on the Tropical house which I would have liked to go around. This visit was out of season so perhaps it's better value for children during the summer when the other rides are open.
I also find other zoos provide more opportunities to get close to the animals or to view them without the glass windows and cages that Twycross has. For example some zoos now feature walk-through lemur enclosures and have close encounter animal handling sessions. The main feature of Tywcross zoo for us were the Elephants and it's worth going just to see those.