Brilliant Devon zoos and animal days out with kids
If your children love animals then there are some stonking Devon zoos and wildlife parks here. All play an important part in conversation and protection of endangered and rare creatures. So they are also an educational day out in the South West of England for the whole family.
In this post you’ll find Devon zoo attractions, wildlife parks, farm days out and animal sanctuaries that you can visit.
Got a while to stay? Here’s our BIG guide to family holidays in Devon.
Devon zoos and wildlife parks reopening after lockdown
Before visiting please check each zoo or attraction’s website to see whether they have been able reopen and their guidance for visitors. All zoos, farms and wildlife attractions have been hit hard by lockdown and may not be open just yet. Please consider donating to their individual fundraising appeals.
Here’s the zoos that feed into national and international conservation projects to protect endangered breeds as well as offering a fun day out in Devon.
We had annual passes to Paignton Zoo a few years ago. It was great to be able to pop in and look around at leisure. Our favourite places to go were the ape and elephant houses, the walk-through lemur enclosure and the tropical hot house.
The zoo is a full day out with 2,500 animals to meet in enclosures spread across 80 acres. Prepare yourselves for a lot of walking and hills.
Read about our visit to Paignton Zoo in South Devon.
Visitor snapshot: Open all year round | No dogs | Free Parking | Paignton Zoo
If you’re looking for things to do in North Devon with toddlers the a day at the zoo is a real crowd pleaser. Exmoor is a small zoo with its fair share of rare animals that you may not see elsewhere in the country.
There are animal talks and chances to find out more about the zoo’s residents throughout the day.
Visitor snapshot: Open all year round | No dogs | Free parking | Exmoor Zoo
This zoo was made famous world-wide by theAmerican film ‘We bought a zoo’ and offers animal talks, encounters and displays across its 33 acre woodland park in Dartmoor National Park.
Visitor snapshot: Open all year | No dogs allowed | Free parking | Dartmoor Zoo
This small coastal zoo is home to some of the rarest breeds of animals in the world. Expect beautiful semi-tropical gardens and small mammals, birds and reptiles.
Visitor snapshot: Open all year | No dogs allowed | Pay and display parking | Shaldon Zoo
Devon farm days out and animal parks
Here are the Devon animal parks that come with additional attractions, making them fun days out for families whether you want to meet farm animals, have a ride on a tractor or
If you’d like a rare glimpse of some of Britain’s native animals in their natural habitats then head to Wildwood Escot at Ottery St Mary in East Devon.
Watch red squirrels forage for nuts play in the recreated Saxon village, see otter feeding time and spot the park’s pack of grey wolves roaming the forest. You’ll also find playgrounds, a trampoline, a beech maze and a soft play barn for younger kids.
Visitor snapshot: Open all year round | No dogs | Free parking | Wildwood Escot
Find more things to do in East Devon.
Dartmoor Miniature Pony Centre
Equestrian fans will adore a day out at Dartmoor Miniature Pony Centre. Here you can listen to regular talks about the animals, groom the ponies, pet them in their field and go for a ride (small additional fee).
Visitor snapshot: Open March to October | No dogs | Free parking | Dartmoor Miniature Pony Centre
Find more things to do in Dartmoor with children.
Introduce your little brood to the cute and cuddly animals at Pennywell Farm. Holding a miniature pig and feeding the lambs is a must if you visit in the Spring.
As well as the animals you’ll find plenty of toddler-friendly indoor and outdoor play areas.
Visitor snapshot: Open from February until the end of October as well as other special dates | No dogs | Free parking | Pennywell Farm
Quince Honey Farm
Find out all about the life and work of honey bees at Quince Honey Farm. Explore more than 8,000 years of bee keeping in the museum, hit the soft play and meet some creepy crawlies in the critter cabin.
Visitor snapshot: Open all year | Dogs welcome | Free parking | Quince Honey Farm
Combe Martin Wildlife & Dinosaur Park
This Devon wildlife park combines every kid’s favourite things (well most): animals and dinosaurs. Visit Combe Martine Wildlife & Dinosaur Park in North Devon to see lions, wolves, sea lions, primates, meerkats and penguins. Keepers do feeding times and talks throughout the day.
Plus there’s life-sized animatronic dinosaurs, botanical gardens, a miniature railway and a gigantic indoor soft play area for wet days.
Visitor snapshot: Open all year round | No dogs | Free parking | Combe Martin Wildlife & Dinosaur Park
Find more things to do in North Devon with kids.
Totnes Rare Breeds Farm
We love this small farm where kids can get hands on feeding and petting the animals. There’s donkeys, wild fowl, goats and rabbits – all rare breeds which are being nurtured at this family-run charity.
Read about our visit to Totnes Rare Breeds Farm.
If you want to make a day of it you can combine the farm with a ride on the South Devon Railway and Dartmoor Otters and Butterflies Sanctuary at the other end of the steam train line.
Visitor snapshot: Open from February until November | No dogs | Local parking charges apply | Totnes Rare Breeds Farm
Did you know Plymouth boasts the UK’s largest aquarium? The National Marine Aquarium is one of those places you could visit again and again. And with tickets being valid for 12 months from your first visit you can do just that.
The enormous tanks showcase species from UK waters, as well as the Atlantic Ocean and Great Barrier Reef.
As well as wandering around the aquarium at your own pace you can also see several daily shows and talks at the different tanks. If you have older kids then I’d recommend trying to plan these into your day to get the most out of your experience. Please check what’s currently possible with the Aquarium.
The NMA is a great day out with kids of all ages and one of the top things to do in Plymouth on a rainy day.
Find out more about visiting the National Marine Aquarium.
Find more things to do in Plymouth with kids.
Wildlife and animal sanctuaries in Devon
There’s important conservation and rehoming work going on in Devon too. Here’s the wildlife and animal sanctuaries you can visit around the county.
The Donkey Sanctuary at Sidmouth
A visit to the Donkey Sanctuary is a wonderful way to get acquainted with these beautiful creatures. You’ll also be supporting a brilliant charity. Entry to the Sanctuary at Sidmouth is free but there are plenty of ways to donate during your visit. Give generously to the collection boxes or take a trip to the lovely restaurant.
Children will love wandering between the fields to say hello to donkeys and mules, exploring the maze and finding out about the residents’ important role working with youngsters with additional needs.
Visitor snapshot: Open all year round | Dogs allowed | Free parking (donation welcomed) | The Donkey Sanctuary
Find more free things to do in Devon with kids.
Buckfast Butterflies and Dartmoor Otter Sanctuary
This small attraction on the edge of Dartmoor gives you a great opportunity to meet the cheeky characters native to this part of the world.
Keepers give talks at each of the enclosures during the day. You can also see butterflies and reptiles in the butterfly house. Find out more about visiting Dartmoor Otters and Butterflies.
Visitor snapshot: Check the Buckfast Butterflies and Dartmoor Otter Sanctuary website for specific opening times as it is not open all year round | No dogs | Free Parking | Buckfastleigh Butterflies and Dartmoor Otter Sanctuary
Find more days out on Dartmoor.
More days out in Devon with animals
You can also find animals and farms at some of Devon’s theme parks.
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