Our day at Newquay Zoo

Our day at Newquay Zoo – By Becky Jones


From the moment you arrive at Newquay Zoo till the moment you leave your day will be packed with fun, laughter and learning. Located just one mile outside of Newquay and set in 13 acres of well designed gardens and walkways you will find over 130 different species. Newquay zoo is an education and research charity passionate about conserving species and habitats. With education at the forefront of their minds your visit to Newquay Zoo will not only be a day packed with fun but you will go home inspired to protect and fight for these species’ future in the wild.


A bench made from wooden wheels and part of a cart

A seating area on the grass with picnic benches

A meerkat guarding a pumpkin


The zoo started its life as a children’s zoo in the 1950’s in the rose gardens within Trenance Gardens. In 1969 the zoo was moved to its current site and has since grown to 13 acres. Mike Thomas and Roger Martin took over the zoo in 1994 and in the 9 years it was privately owned by them, they partnered with St Austell College and developed an educational facility on the land adjacent to the zoo. Cornwall College now employs members of the zoo’s education staff to teach courses. In 2003 Newquay zoo and Paignton Zoo joined forces and became part of the Wild Planet Trust (a registered education, scientific and conservation charity)


Newquay Zoo logo


Through the years since the zoo first opened their aim has been to promote awareness and provide education on these wonderful animals and the habitats they have in the wild. Now a popular attraction in Cornwall their mission still shines through in the fun learning opportunities you will find around the zoo. My husband and I spent the day there last week and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! Here is my account of the adventure we had.

Our day at the zoo!

The entrance to Newquay Zoo


We were greeted by a friendly member of staff at the entry desk where you buy your tickets and grab your map. Accessibility maps are also available so you can plan your route around the zoo. For ticket prices please follow this link https://www.newquayzoo.org.uk/plan-your-visit/tickets-and-prices. If part of an organisation such as Mencap or Green light please contact reception for reduced rates. Carers entry is free with proof such as blue badge or a benefits letter. This is also where you can pick up your mobility scooter or wheelchair (pre-bookable with Independent Living Newquay Ltd.) 

Make sure to download the zoo app from their website to get the full experience! There are also great learning resources to use for up to key stage 3 including a guided sensory walk and other fun activities on their website. To fully explore the zoo and see all the animals give yourself around 3 hours, if you would like to stop for lunch and really relax it can be a whole day trip.


2 Lemurs sat on the grass with their arms stretched out sunbathing


Once through the gate we made a beeline for the lemurs who were sunning themselves on Lemur island. The cafe is just inside the entrance (with a ramped access) so we headed straight there for some lunch. They have a great menu and are reasonably priced too. We opted for some cheesy chips and coffees and grabbed a table by the lake to watch the lemurs while we ate. The cheeky peacocks wandered about hoping for some scraps (please don’t feed the animals!). It was wonderful having our lunch hearing the noises of the creatures who call the zoo their home.


A circle sign with a drawing of a duck using sign language. It reads "can you sign a duck?"


With our stomachs full we set out exploring the zoo and there is a lot to explore! From majestic lions to sassy meerkats there is never a dull moment! Making our way around the lake to the savannah area, we learnt how to sign a duck with the brilliant British sign language information boards. The Savannah area has a wooden walkway and viewing platforms looking out across the field of zebra and their friends. There is also the Tarzan trail in this area, unfortunately not wheelchair friendly due to the steps but a wonderful place to let off some steam with an outdoor adventure course. There are logs and ropes to climb where you can let out your inner monkey and a slide to zoom down like a penguin diving for fish! 


An adventure playground

A wooden walkway with a field to the right. Zebras and wildebeest grazing in the field


We continued through the well-designed and accessible pathways viewing so many wonderful animals along the way until we reached the next stop, a drink at the Lazy Lion Grill. You can either carry on wandering with your drink or snack, sit in the central picnic area (One picnic table has ramped access) or find your way into the magical secret gardens directly opposite to find some peace and tranquility. Just around the corner are disabled toilets right next to the wallabies.

At this point my excitement was at its peak, as an avid penguin lover the next exhibit was one I had been looking forward to all day! Almost all of the exhibits are designed so that wether in a pushchair, wheelchair or standing you will still have a brilliant view of the animals. The penguin exhibit for example has viewing windows in the walls so that you can peek through at their silly antics.


Three penguins swimming


Around the corner from the penguins there is a wonderful children’s play area and a snack bar looking out over the meerkats and big cats. The playground has a seesaw with two seats each end for someone to sit behind anyone that may need help. It can be a little noisy at busy times but there is plenty of space to play and the serene secret garden is just a two second walk away opposite the Lazy Lion Grill if it all gets too much!

Next we made our way to the farm which is layed out perfectly for everyone to be able to see all the fluffy and cute farmyard creatures. The tropical house next door is a beautiful two story exhibit with free flying birds and if you’re lucky you might get a glimpse of the Lazy sloth! You may want to take your jumper off though as it’s rather warm in there! You really get to feel what it is like where these animals live!


Inside the tropical house


Last but certainly not least we saw the monkeys! Monkeys do call to eachother so it can be a little noisy! So if you find it difficult just turn right at the Warty pigs and Spotted deer to miss out this area. At the end of our visit I was lucky enough to chat to a member of staff who guided me through the accessibility of the zoo. She also showed me their Changing Places room, located by the entrance to the zoo. Which is perfectly designed with an adult size bench, hoists and enough space for two carers. Talking to her highlighted how much access means to the staff. They are so willing to help in whatever way they can to make the zoo accessible for all.


The changing places toilet showing the adult sized changing bench, the privacy screen, the toilet and the sink


From monkeys swinging on ropes to the elusive fishing cat hiding in the undergrowth, there is something for everyone to enjoy. So find your wild side and visit Newquay Zoo!




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