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Dartmoor Zoo

Home > Devon > Animals and Wildlife | Cafes | Day Trips | Outdoor | Zoos
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Published March 8th 2020
Where the animals are the stars
If you've ever watched the film We Bought a Zoo, then you'll have a rough idea about the history of this zoo and although it looks completely different to the image you get from the film - that's Hollywood for you, using their creative license.

Our kids had watched the film a few times, so we thought that we'd take them to the place that it was based on and with it being less than an hour's drive from where we were staying just outside of Exeter, we couldn't miss the opportunity to visit.

The film is loosely based on the book that was written by the owner of the zoo, Benjamin Mee, and follows his story about purchasing it and rebuilding everything to transform it into the unique animal sanctuary that it is today all sitting on the edge of Dartmoor.

Due to its location on the edge of Dartmoor National Park, the site is on a hill, so you need to be prepared for an uphill walk when you get there. Though you'll get to see some animals on your way up.

There are information signs all around that provide detailed information about each of the animals that they care for, and throughout the day they have keeper talks at several locations around the zoo.

We went to a few different ones and found them to be very interesting with the keepers being enthusiastic and knowledgable about the animals they cared for and able to answer all of our questions.

They have a research department located in a pod that is dedicated to improving the care of captive animals and works in partnership with Plymouth University, with aims to educate people and promote the rights and welfare of animals worldwide.

There are lots of places where you can sit and have a picnic while you watch the animals.

In the middle of the zoo, there is a cafe called the Jaguar restaurant, which has a good range of options on the menu with prices that are comparable to other similar attractions.

The gift shop is in the same room as the cafe and has many souvenirs with something for every budget.

Look out for the peacocks that roam freely around the area.

Many of the animals are part of breeding programs where they link up with other zoos and swap animals to ensure the survival and biodiversity of the species, so by visiting you are helping to fund these programs.

Overall, its a nice little zoo and it has a decent number of animals to see, including around 70 mammals, 38 birds, 21 reptiles, 16 invertebrates and 5 Amphibians.

With enough to see and do to keep you going for many hours, though if you are with someone who needs a wheelchair, be sure to ask to use the car park near the cafe, as it will make it easier to see many of the animals. However, there are still a few steep paths at the top.
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Why? Stretch your legs while supporting animal conservation
When: Open 364 days a year (closed Christmas Day), may close during extreme weather
Phone: 01752 837645
Where: Dartmoor Zoological Park, Sparkwell, Plymouth, Devon, PL7 5DG
Cost: Adult 15.35, Concession (OAPs, Students, Disabled) 13.15, Child (3 to 15yrs) 10.95, Child Concession (Disabled) 8.95, Family (4 persons, max 2 adults) 48.35
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