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Dartmoor Zoo

Sparkwell Plymouth Devon PL7 5DG 01752 837 645

We say

If you’ve read the book or seen the movie We Bought A Zoo, you’ll have some idea what Benjamin Mee and his family went through when they decided to take on this quirky zoological park back in 2006. Despite having no experience in running a zoo or caring for wild animals, the Mee family were determined to preserve the park and its animals. And – after a few teething problems including a big cat escaping – they re-opened the doors to the public and re-instated a wonderful attraction tucked away in the scenic South Hams. More of a park with animals than a full-scale zoo, this is a great day out for families with young children – it's not a huge area to cover and there's plenty of space for picnicking and playing between large, well-kempt areas where the animals graze and swim. Beyond the ponies, pygmy goats and monkeys there are big species too, including the jaguar, lions, tigers and bears. You can watch the big cats being fed, learn about the primates in ‘monkey talk’, enjoy close encounters with birds and bugs, and even have your face painted to be your favourite animals. And if your child dreams of being a zookeeper when they grow up, they can even have a test run on a 3-day zoo ranger’s course. 

You say Average Rating ★★★☆☆

Happy animals and happy staff - a lovely day out! ★★★★☆

My Mother had read the ‘We book a Zoo’ book and has since has a visit on her to-do book; I had no such connection and was reluctant as I am not usually a fan of zoos based on previous experiences of viewing animals bored or unclean. However, our visit was the highlight of our weekend away. The animals were clean and active, their enclosures filled with stimuli. You can interact with the animals without them being forced to do so, very different from other establishments. We frequently crossed paths with a birthday party of about 10 year olds, the staff were a credit to the establishment: calm, very knowledgeable and clearly proud very of their job. We joined a talk about the wolves that left us on awe: Did you know that your pet may damage your TV remote when stressed as it associates it with your heart rate dropping as you tune in? Wolves eat different parts of a carcass based upon the hormones contained within the flesh and their position in the hierarchy, i.e. if an animal was running, the ‘active’ muscle will be consumed by the head of the pack to show they can chase and bring home prey? We later learned that Dartmoor Zoo works with Bicton College near Exeter, with students jumping over each other to win the opportunity to work there, and it is evident in their enthusiasm. The animals are located in tended grounds with wonderful ice cream served where you can sit on picnic benches dotted around the site. The café gives the discrete impression that it is ‘work in progress’ but is clean, spacious and provides a selection of hot and cold food. I have recommended Dartmoor zoo to friends and so look forward to returning with my young family in the future. (Visited Dartmoor Zoo during Aril 2015

Dartmoor Zoo reviewed by on August 20th, 2015

Disappointing ★★☆☆☆

Wish I had read the reviews but best to go see yourself. So disappointed the enclousers are so small! the owls & all the birds have no room to fly even spread they wings & what upset us the most to the point we left was the bear sat at the back gate staring at the wall rocking! Wish we complained about to get told they are working with the bears to enrich they lifes! to late! serouisly ruined are day cant stop thinking about those poor animals they all looked stir crazy! going to make a higer complaint. has put us off the zoo got to keep reminding myself they are not all like this one

Dartmoor Zoo reviewed by on September 15th, 2014

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How much?

Adults £12.95, children £10.95 (under 5s free), family tickets £42.


  • Café
  • Events & Activities
  • Farm Animals
  • Group Bookings
  • Wheelchair Access

Looking for...

  • Countryside
  • Something Different


April–October daily 10am–6pm, November–March daily 10am–4pm.

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