Yesterday, Christine and I took Elizabeth to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park, near Doncaster. It’s one of Britain’s newest zoos, having opened as recently as 2009. It’s been on our ‘to-do’ list of regional attractions for some time, but it’s not the easiest place to reach by public transport – from Sowerby Bridge, we’d need to get a train to Leeds, another train to Doncaster and then a bus, and then the same going back. Now that we have a car, it’s only a little over an hour’s drive away, and gave us something to do out of the house on Valentines Day.
Despite the name, the Yorkshire Wildlife Park is more like a zoo than a safari park, so you park your car and head in on foot. The park covers a large area, and unlike some zoos, has a narrower range of animals but larger enclosures with bigger groups of animals. Whilst one zoo might have one or two tigers, the wildlife park has six spread across two big enclosures. And there are some animals, like polar bears and an armadillo, that I haven’t seen in other zoos. No red pandas though.
Some of the enclosures allow you to walk through, but those that don’t usually have dedicated viewing platforms without metal railings in the way. Consequently it’s popular with photographers with some very large camera lenses and tripods around. As with most attractions, photography for personal use is fine, but commercial use requires a license.
My personal highlights were the tigers and the polar bears, although I also enjoyed the talk about the lemurs. Again, like most zoos, there are talks throughout the day, every half hour. Although we got there quite early, we didn’t get chance to see everything as what started as a very sunny (but cold) day turned to snow by the mid-afternoon. But I’m sure we’ll be back, especially as Elizabeth gets a bit older and is able to appreciate it more. As it was, she was asleep in the pram most of the time.
Another thing that sets the wildlife park apart from its rivals is its range of food outlets; each one has a different focus and it’s good quality. We went to the Safari Cafe by the entrance and were impressed with the food and drink on offer, much of which is from local suppliers. Entrance to the wildlife park is, like many zoos, a bit pricey – we pre-booked online which cost £13.50 each for adults, but children over 2 will be charged £11.50. Tickets booked online are a pound cheaper, but make sure you check the weather first as almost all of the park is outdoors. And there are annual passes available for those who visit regularly – I expect we’ll be back quite a bit in a year or two as it’s our nearest outdoor zoo. We really enjoyed our day out and I strongly recommend it.