The Handy Stuff

Zoo Vs Safari Park– How Do I Choose?

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So, you’re an animal lover? If the local pet shop isn’t doing it for you and a long-haul flight to explore a savannah isn’t on the cards – don't worry. There are plenty of animal attractions right here in the UK (over 300 licensed zoos and eight safari parks to be exact.)

Before you can get your David Attenborough on, you’ll need to choose where to go. A good place to start? Picking between a zoo and a safari park. Let's settle the debate once and for all.

What’s the difference between zoos and safari parks?

In simple terms, zoos (mostly) keep animals in enclosures while us humans wander about outside. Safari parks usually let animals roam free while we drive through in cars.

They both tend to have a wide variety of animals from home and afar, but each has their own benefits. For example, if a lot of walking doesn’t work for you (or you can’t manage it for health reasons), a safari park may be a far better way for you to get your wildlife fix. Or, if you’re precious about your car, we’d probably say choose the zoo. Why? One word – monkeys.

If you’re still struggling to decide, think about what you want to get out of your day.

If you want to learn about wildlife: A zoo is the one

Zoos aren’t just about seeing the animals, they’re educational too. The zookeepers are experts, not just on the animals they care for, but also on natural habitats and conservation. Most zoos hold specific talks and feeding sessions so you can learn more about the creatures too.

If you want to feel like you’re seeing animals in the wild: Give a safari park a go

Safari parks have wide, open spaces where animals like lions and tigers stretch their legs, flex their claws and let loose some serious roars. You’ll always keep a safe and respectful distance (hands inside the vehicle, please), but it’s pretty similar to safaris in Africa and Asia.

If you want to support conservation effort: Visit a zoo, no doubt about it

Over the past decades, British zoos have put in the effort and saved tonnes of creatures from extinction. Everything from Polynesian tree snails to Senegalese Scimitar-horned Oryx, and Caribbean Mountain chicken frogs (promise we didn’t make that one up) to Amur leopards. One of our favourites is definitelty Colchester Zoo - a seriously epic zoo based over 60-acres of parkland.

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If you love beautiful scenery: It’s got to be a safari park

Some safari parks are in seriously stunning settings. Take Longleat for example. There are monkeys, elephants, lions, tigers, cheetah and aardvarks wandering around the beautiful grounds of a plush Elizabethan mansion. There are loads of seasonal events too, like an indoor beach and bird of prey displays.

If you want wildlife and rollercoasters: Try Chessington World of Adventures Resort

Why choose between a day at the zoo or a theme park when you can have both in one? Chessington World of Adventures combines the two perfectly – take it’s Tiger Rock rollercoaster which hurtles you past real tigers. Pretty cool.

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Still undecided? Explore our safari park and zoo days out for yourself.

At Days Out, you can book the UK’s best attractions (y’know the proper FOMO inducing ones?) -- we know where’s perfect for you. Find your next adventure.