We have just visited Chester Zoo for the girls birthday. We decided to do this instead of having a party this year - we are still recovering from last years party! The girls are not that keen on being the centre of attention at birthday parties and burst into tears last year when the other 30 kids started to sing "happy birthday" to them!
We felt a visit to the Zoo would work better. We had a fantastic day, it's wonderful to see animals in real life, that you wouldn't normally see. It was also good to see the animals looking relaxed in enclosures mimicking their natural habitats as much as possible. On entering the zoo our first visit was to the elephants. The elephants were fabulous and we were enthralled by watching them outside eating hay and playing with tree branches. The highlight was the two baby elephants, who were very comical in trying to copy their mums in lifting branches.
We then went through security, which was a quick check through our bags - important in the current climate, then headed off to visit the different zones. We were given a map to follow, which was very much needed as the zoo is huge!
There are plenty of toilets and places to eat and drink dotted around the zoo, which is essential when you have children. There were also lots of staff around who were friendly and approachable, we got lost a few times, so had to ask for directions - despite the free map!
We particularly loved the bat cave. The bats literally fly above your heads - occasionally just missing you by millimetres! You are advised not to stand still in the tunnel, so we just kept walking round and round. Even though the zoo was busy, being half term, there was plenty of space and not much queuing. The enclosures are so large that you can always find a free spot on it's perimeter.
We had eaten a full English breakfast (having stayed at a Premier Inn the night before) prior to arriving at the zoo, so only bought drinks and snacks. The prices of which were more expensive than usual, but not too extortionate.
We were very pleasantly surprised that the cost of items in the gift shop were reasonable. My girls have a "thing" about soft toys and never seem to think they have too many. The small soft toys in the shop were £5.99 and the large red panda, pictured below in the elephant enclosure was £12.99, which I didn't feel was too bad,
All in all we had a fab day and would definitely consider visiting again in the future. We were lucky in that the weather was quite cool when we went, I would imagine you would need lots of drinks on a hot day as well as places to shade as the amount of walking is immense! You can get a day pass for the mono rail, but we didn't bother on this occasion.
With regards to entry prices, it's not cheap. I suppose running a zoo takes a lot of money. There are apparently 20 000 animals at Chester Zoo, all in 125 acres! The zoo helps to protect endangered animals from extinction. Anything you purchase from the zoo goes towards protecting animals, plants and habitats. We booked online for our tickets and received a 10% discount on ticket prices on the door. Pre booking the tickets also meant we didn't need to queue on arrival.
So, a successful 6th birthday treat for the girls. Perhaps we may brave a party again next year, or there are plenty more places to visit, as an alternative!