Dartmoor Zoo

Sparkwell Plymouth Devon PL7 5DG

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.

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