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The Best Zoos, Aquariums & Wildlife Centres in Yorkshire

· Katie Wells · Culture

Take a walk on the wild side with an animal adventure.

Yorkshire Wildlife Park

Polar bears, tigers and even glow-in-the-dark scorpions await at these Yorkshire zoos.

Love animals? It’s time to explore Yorkshire’s fantastic zoos. There are sanctuaries, wildlife parks and huge aquariums, right on your doorstep. Each one is home to an array of exotic creatures – you can marvel at huge elephants, come face to face with fierce lions and feed hungry penguins. With plenty of events and activities to keep everyone entertained, they make for a great day out, so go wild and check them out.

Thorp Perrow

Thorp Perrow

Credit: Phillip Thompson

Nestled in Thorp Perrow’s stunning 100-acre arboretum is The Bird of Prey and Mammal Centre. This Yorkshire zoo boasts a huge collection of exotic birds, from colourful parakeets to rare kookaburras. There are daily flight displays, where you can get up close to powerful birds of prey as they swoop over your head. It’s also home to loads of cute animals too, including meerkats and pygmy goats. You can even feed, stroke and snap a selfie with their friendly wallabies. After you’ve met the animals, the kids can go wild on the adventure playground.

Thorp Perrow, Bedale, North Yorkshire, DL8 2PS. Entry starts at £9.95 for adults and £6.40 for children.

Scarborough Sea Life Centre

Scarborough Sea Life

You can explore the secrets of the deep blue at Scarborough Sea Life Centre. It’s a wonderful Yorkshire aquarium where majestic rays, cute seals and menacing sharks all await. Wander through the ocean tunnel and you’ll be immersed in the underwater world, with schools of fish gliding all around you. Feeding time for the Humboldt penguins is a particular highlight – the birds go bonkers as the keepers throw their kippers in. They’re passionate about ocean conservation and the kids can learn about it at their turtle rescue experience.

Scarborough Sea Life Centre, Scalby Mills Road, Scarborough, North Yorkshire,YO12 6RP. Entry starts at £9.90.

Yorkshire Wildlife Park

Yorkshire Wildlife Park

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! You’ll find over 400 animals at Yorkshire Wildlife Park, spread across 15 different habitats. The zoo is committed to the conservation of rare species, with black rhinos, leopards and rescued lions all in their care. The family of polar bears is a big attraction – you could spend hours watching them plunge into the lake and clambering up the rocks. Make your way to Wallaby Walkabout or Lemur Woods and you can get as close as you like to the cheeky monkeys and mischievous marsupials as there are no fences.

Yorkshire Wildlife Park, Warning Tongue Lane, Branton, Doncaster, South Yorkshire, DN4 6TB. Entry starts at £16.50 for adults and £14.50 for children.

Harewood Bird Garden

Harewood Penguins

Credit: Sarah Ayache

The Bird Garden at Harewood House is a bird-only wildlife centre that’s home to over 40 different species. There are beautiful Chilean flamingoes, teeny-tiny Bali starlings and peculiar burrowing owls, which prefer to spend their time on the ground rather than up in the air. Don’t miss the Humboldt penguins either. They have loads of big personalities, so they’re an entertaining bunch to watch. If you want to really get to know each unique character, you can book onto their penguin feeding experience where you’ll get to hand-feed the birds.

Harewood Bird Garden, Sandy Gate, Harewood, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS17 9LE. Entry starts at £15.75 for adults and £8.10 for children. The penguin feeding experience starts at £45 for adults and £38.70 for children.

Flamingo Land

Flamingo Land

Flamingo Land is a theme park and an award-winning Yorkshire zoo rolled into one. Loads of different animals from around the globe live here. You can see Asian red pandas, South American tapirs and African hippopotamuses, all in one place. Don’t miss the reptile and amphibian house – it’s brimming with curious critters like the Anderson’s salamander, which looks like a cross between a frog and a lizard. They offer special encounters with the zoo’s friendliest residents too, like the lemurs and the penguins. After you’ve explored every inch, you can whizz round their thrilling rollercoasters.

Flamingo Laned, Kirby Misperton, Malton, North Yorkshire, YO17 6UX. Zoo only entry starts at £8 and entry to the whole park starts at £36.

Tropical World

Meerkats Tropical World

Tropical World is a compact zoo that’s completely indoors, so you can come rain or shine. Step into the Butterfly House and try to spot all 20 species. Keep your eyes peeled for a croc lurking in the pools too. There’s a one-way path that leads through each exhibit, taking you on a journey through six different habitats. You can see a gang of meerkats in the desert, a troop of cotton-topped monkeys in the rainforest and an army of poison dart frogs behind the waterfall. Roundhay Park is right next door – why not go for a stroll after?

Tropical World, Princes Avenue, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS8 2ER. Entry for starts at £7 for adults and £3.50 for children.

Askham Bryan Wildlife and Conservation Park

Askham Bryan Wildlife Park

Askham Bryan Wildlife and Conservation Park is part of Askham Bryan College’s Animal Management Unit, so it doubles as an education hub. That means you’ll get to learn plenty about the natural world as you explore each of the enclosures. There are terrapins and armadillos to meet, as well as one fiesty iguana. If you’re a fan of the cute and cuddly, you won’t be disappointed either as they have tiny tamarins, sugar gliders, chinchillas and Swinhoe’s striped squirrels. This Yorkshire wildlife park is set in a historic arboretum, which is lovely to wander around.

Askham Bryan Wildlife and Conservation Park, Askham Bryan, York, North Yorkshire, YO23 3FR. Entry starts from £6.95 for adults and £5.95 for children.

The Deep

The Deep

Credit: The Deep

Not only is The Deep one of the biggest aquariums in Yorkshire, but it’s one of the biggest in the whole of the UK. From rescued turtles to colourful jellyfish, there are over 5,000 aquatic animals and tropical bugs for you to see. They have an underwater viewing tunnel 10 metres down, so you can get up close to the sharks and stingrays that lurk in the depths. Another highlight is the Awakening Seas exhibition, which showcases fossils of prehistoric monsters that once ruled the oceans. Hungry? Dine surrounded by floor-to-ceiling tanks at the Two Rivers Restaurant.

The Deep, Tower Street, Hull, East Yorkshire, HU1 4DP. Entry starts at £12.60 for adults and £9.90 for children.

Sewerby Hall

Sewerby Hall boasts an intriguing menagerie of animals and birds. There’s an eclectic mix of domestic and wild animals at this Yorkshire zoo, with strange-looking racoon dogs just a stone’s throw from the micro pigs. They have a very chatty eclectus parrot too. The whole brood will be kept entertained with a regular programme of family-friendly activities that range from Meet the Keeper talks to Animal Encounters. You can also explore the Grade-I listed hall and 50-acres of award-winning gardens.

Sewerby Hall, Church Lane, Sewerby, Bridlington, North Yorkshire, YO15 1EA. Zoo only entry starts from £3.70 for adults and £2.60 for children. Zoo and house entry starts from £6.20 for adults and £4.20 for children.

Bridlington Animal Park

Bridlington Animal Park

Bridlington Animal Park is an environmentally conscious zoo. They have even won awards for their efforts, which includes using filtered rainwater in their exhibits and up-cycling waste products from local businesses to create sustainable enrichment materials for the animals. Speaking of the critters, they have everything from civets to snakes, marmosets to toads. Not to mention one of the coolest collections of birds in Yorkshire. You can see ostriches, emus, falcons, hawks and nine different types of owl. What a hoot!

Bridlington Animal Park, Carnaby Covert Lane, Bridlington, North Yorkshire, YO15 3QF. Entry starts at £5.95 for adults and £4.95 for children.

Wildlife World

Lotherton Hall Wildlife World

Nestled in the grounds of Lotherton, you’ll find Wildlife World. They first began their collection of creatures with the Bird Garden, where you can see exotic species like hornbills. Over the years, it has grown into a fully-fledged safari park, split into multiple sections with different educational themes. Wander through the forest zone and meet their resident tapir, while learning about the threats to its ecosystem. At the coastal zone, you can see penguins and understand more about ocean pollution. New species are always being introduced too so it’s different on every visit.

Wildlife World, Lotherton, Collier Lane, Aberford, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS25 3EB. Entry starts at £8 for adults and £4 for children.

The Tropical Butterfly House

Tropical Butterfly House

The Tropical Butterfly House first opened its doors over 25 years ago and has since grown into an impressive collection of creatures. They specialise in tropical animals from the likes of Costa Rica and Madagascar, so expect a host of unusual critters. There are glow-in-the-dark scorpions, mouse lemurs and cool birds of prey. They have a busy timetable of events each day to keep you entertained, including tractor rides and feeding experiences. It’s great value for money as all their daily events are included in the entry fee.

The Tropical Butterfly House, Woodsetts Road, North Anston, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S25 4EQ. Entry starts at £13.75 for adults and £12.50 for children.

Hope Pastures

Donkeys

This one’s a bit different. Hope Pastures is a charity that rescues, rehabilitates and re-homes equines. Their paddocks are open to the public, so you can go in and see their good work first-hand. The donkeys, horses and ponies will often be out playing in the fields. They’re looked after by a passionate team of staff and volunteers who know everything there is to know about the animals and they’re always happy to share their knowledge. Want to get up close? They run pony days where you can groom and pet the horses for yourself.

Hope Pastures, Westwood Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS16 5PH. Entry is free but donations are encouraged.

York Bird of Prey Centre

York Bird of Prey

York Bird of Prey Centre is home to an array of cool feathered creatures. It’s all about interactive experiences here. Their hands-on ethos means you can really get up close to their magnificent owls and eagles. You can see feedings and even handle the birds yourself at their daily events. They also have regular flight displays that demonstrate the power of these birds of prey. After you’ve visited the winged wonders, you can have a go on their 9-hole mini-golf course that’s free to play or have a spot of lunch in the on-site cafe.

York Bird of Prey Centre, Baston Lane, Huby, North Yorkshire, YO61 1JB. Entry starts at £9 for adults and £7.50 for children.

Cover mage credit: Neil Hutchinson