From some very cute and playful otters to pacing wolves, and from sweet baby meerkats to full-grown hungry bears, Dartmoor Zoological Park has something for everyone and is great value for money. The home of book and Hollywood film ‘We Bought a Zoo’ (starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansen), owner Benjamin Mee lives on site and makes fairly regular appearances to sign copies of his book and answer burning questions from adults and children alike.
The park contains a huge range of animals: peacocks, owls, capybara, wolves, jaguars, lions, tigers and bears (oh my!), lynx, meerkats and otters to name a few. They also have a daily falconry display which is great fun and very interactive for the kids, as well as talks on various animals.
My favourite part of the day was watching the tigers get fed – three adult tigers jumping out of windows in order to tear apart huge steaks left out for them was fascinating!
Popular with kids of all ages was a bit called ‘Close Encounters’, in which staff brought out a range of different reptiles and insects for people to pet. When we visited we had the enormous pleasure (??) of petting Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches first of all. They were more popular with the kids than the adults, it has to be said. Staff then brought out tortoises, corn snakes and finally a boa constrictor for us to pet. The whole experience was really fascinating and most of the staff were very knowledgeable and happy to answer all kinds of questions, although there were a couple who were training there and misdirected us once or twice!
There is a restaurant at the park called the Jaguar Café which sells a range of both hot and cold food (mostly paninis, burgers, that sort of thing) for reasonable prices. There are also picnic benches if you want to take your own food, which is what we did. Also in the restaurant is a souvenir shop, we were pleasantly surprised with how well-priced things were.
Entry is also very reasonable: £10.95 per adult, £8.95 for children aged 5-15 and under 5’s go free! You can also get a family ticket (2 adults, 2 kids) for £35 and discounts for OAP’s are available. Parking is available or you can get there via bus from Plymouth City Centre – Route 59 leaves from Royal Parade and takes around 30 minutes, stopping right outside the main gates of DZP.