Skip to Content

Visiting Paignton Zoo in South Devon

Visiting Paignton Zoo in South Devon

We’ve visited Paignton Zoo in South Devon several times with our girls and always have a great time. It’s Devon’s largest zoo and one of its very best Devon days out with kids, especially if your children are animal fans.

The zoo is set in 80 acres of botanical garden and is home to more than different 2,000 animals, including many that are endangered in the wild and others that are part of conservation projects.

Please note: Paignton Zoo celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2023 and started a major revamp. Images in this post were taken pre-revamp.

Love Devon? Why not follow me on Instagram, join the Devon with Kids Facebook group and subscribe to my newsletter!

Looking for a really wild day out in the South West? Visit Paignton Zoo in South Devon to meet lions, lemus, rhinos & rheas. Here's all you need to know before you visit #DevonwithKids #zoo #Paignton #Devon #SouthWest #conservation #UK #England #daysout #thingstodo #wildlife #animals

Why visit Paignton Zoo?

There’s such a lovely feel about this zoo in Devon. The animals’ enclosures are set within an amazing, shady landscape where they have plenty of room to roam.

Gorilla in leafy enclosure with climbing frame
Western lowland gorilla
Baboons on baboon rock enclosure at Paignton Zoo in South Devon

Keepers give excellent talks about the wildlife they look after here. Check the map you are given on your way in for talk times throughout the day.

There’s also lots of play areas for children to stretch their legs in-between meeting the animals. This, along with other family-friendly facilities, makes it one of our top recommendations for things to do in Devon with toddlers.

Paignton Zoo is also part of the conservation charity, the Wild Planet Trust, which has one of the largest and most productive zoo-based research departments in the UK. It also runs Newquay Zoo in Cornwall and 20 conservation projects in the UK, Africa and Asia.

Find out about other Devon zoos and wildlife days out.

Paignton Zoo animals

If you’re wondering if Paignton Zoo has giraffes, tigers or gorillas, the good news is yes it does.

Child looking at tigers at Paignton Zoo
Sumatran tigers

Here’s some more of the many Paignton Zoo animals you can visit during your day:

  • flamingos
  • reptiles
  • tropical birds
  • owls
  • red pandas
  • giant tortoise
  • gibbons
  • squirrel monkeys
  • orang-utans
  • baboons
  • rhinos
  • meerkats
  • cheetahs
  • tigers
  • kangaroos
Black rhino in zoo enclosure
Black rhinoceros
Giraffe eating outside at zoo
Rothschild’s giraffe

What happened to the elephant at Paignton Zoo?

Sadly Paignton Zoo’s elephant, Duchess, died in 2019. You can find out more about Duchess in this tribute video.

Lions at Paignton Zoo

In 2023 a family of African lions called Boss, Semira and Amahle moved to Paignton from Newquay Zoo.

The zoo recommends visiting the big cats in the afternoon for a better chance of seeing them.

Viewing areas outside lion enclosure
Tiger viewing area

Does Paignton have penguins?

Everyone loves penguins but you won’t find them at Paignton Zoo. If you want to see penguins you’ll find them at Newquay Zoo in Cornwall, which is also run by Wild Planet Trust.

Sadly Living Coasts in Torquay, which was also part of the Trust and home to penguins in Devon (as well as sea lions, seals and other marine life), closed in 2020.

Does Paignton Zoo have pandas?

No, but you can see red pandas at the zoo.

Find other things to do in Paignton and in nearby Torquay in Devon.

How long does it take to walk around Paignton Zoo?

Plan to spend at least four hours at the zoo, but you could easily spend all day.

Something it is worth saying is that it may not be possible to see all animals every visit. Having visited a number of times, we know that you are likely to see more animals in their outdoor enclosures on warm days.

Other things to do at Paignton Zoo

Kids can also play on the playgrounds dotted around the zoo, meet and pet farm animals at The Ranch, and see a bird show between April and September.

And don’t miss a wobbly wander across the bridge in Lemur Wood.

Wobbling bridge in Lemur Wood at Paignton Zoo
Rope bridge in Lemur wood
Small play area in zoo

Check the zoo’s events page to find out what’s on during the school holidays.

Cafes and toilets

The main restaurant at Paignton Zoo is not far from the entrance. This services hot and cold food in a canteen. There is indoor and outdoor seating.

Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options are available.

There are snack shacks located around the zoo. These sell drinks, ice creams and a limited selection of hot and cold snacks.

Please be aware that not all snack shacks are open all year round.

You can also eat your own picnic at benches located around the zoo. You cannot take food into some areas like the Lemur Wood where animals roam freely as you walk through.

There are toilets and baby changing facilities close to all the eateries except for the ice cream stall at the furthest end of the zoo near the giraffes.

How accessible is Paignton Zoo?

Paignton Zoo is one of our recommended accessible places to visit in Devon. Viewing areas and indoor enclosures are accessible, and there are disabled toilets.

The zoo is set in a valley so there are some hills. You can pick up an accessible route map at reception.

Is Paignton Zoo dog-friendly?

Please be aware that Paignton Zoo does not allow dogs and there are no kennels on site. Do not leave dogs in your car as there is no shaded parking.

Find dog-friendly Devon attractions.

Paignton Zoo map

Here is where you will find the Paignton Zoo map. Be aware that it is not to scale and doesn’t show how hilly the site is in places.

You can also download an app with information and a digital map to carry with you during your visit.

It is possible to navigate the zoo with a pushchair but bring your strong arms for heaves up hills.

Where is Paignton Zoo in South Devon?

Here’s where to find Paignton Zoo in South Devon:

The zoo has a large car park that is free to use during your visit. Walk down hill through the car park to find the zoo entrance.

Looking for more things to do around the English Riviera? Read my guide to things to do in Torquay.

Paignton Zoo opening times 

Paignton Zoo is open all year round. In the summer months its doors open at 10am and close at 6pm. Last admission is 4pm. In the off season opening times may vary.

Book online in advance to get the best price on your tickets. They cost more at the gate.

Paignton Zoo prices 

Children in front of black rhino

Find out the most up-to-date prices and buy tickets online.

The zoo welcomes a voluntary additional donation per ticket to help with its conservation work. You can find the prices including a small donation on the zoo website.

Looking for more ways to entertain your children in Paignton? Here’s my guide to things to do in this town on the English Riviera.

Would you like more Devon goodies delivered to your inbox? Sign up to the Devon with Kids newsletter.

Have you visited Paignton Zoo in South Devon? I’d love to hear about your experience. Visiting Paignton Zoo?

101 days out in Devon with Kids cover and pages

Download the 101 Days out in Devon with kids ebook

It’s FREE!

Grab your copy of this guide to family-friendly things to do across the county, from coast to coast, in the cities, on the moors and whatever the weather.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.