NOAH’S ARK ZOO FARM
IN WRAXALL, NORTH SOMERSET
ABOUT NOAH’S ARK ZOO
Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm is located six miles West of Bristol in the rural setting of Wraxall in North Somerset. The giant zoo houses over one hundred species of animals in grounds covering more than one hundred acres which should offer even the most energetic of children plenty of scope for burning off steam and it’s within easy reach of Bristol and Portishead so I was happy to be invited to visit and write about our experience.
We visited on one of those beautifully crisp winter’s days when the deep blue skies and low sun combine to show off the lush english countryside at its best. At over one hundred acres, the site is huge. There’s plenty to see and I’ve listed ten good reasons to visit below.
10 THINGS TO DO AT NOAH’S ARK
We began by visiting the smaller enclosures (beyond the café) which house all sorts of interesting animals like porcupines, tortoises and gibbons.
The meerkats are always a hit and we were there at feeding time which was a bonus. On reflection, it may not be the best place to start as meerkats are so endearing, I found it hard to drag myself away from their funny antics, let alone herd the children away!
2. Ring Tailed lemurs
They may look cute and fluffy but did you know Ring-tailed lemurs compete for females via ‘stink fights’? Nice!
3. Feeding the Animals in the Show Pens
For a small additional cost you can buy bags of feed and be super-popular with the animals you’re allowed to feed. The emphasis on animal welfare is evident throughout the zoo and clear signs indicate which animals are on a special diet and those which you’re encouraged to feed.
4. Just Being Outdoors in the Countryside
Our visit was during the cold winter months when it’s easy to stay huddled up indoors but it was refreshing to spend almost the whole day outside breathing in chilly fresh air and enjoying the rural beauty around us. We were lucky with the weather but, had it rained, there are a number of places we could have sheltered, making Noah’s ark an all year round attraction.
A pleasant stroll along the bird walk-through leads you to the large animal enclosures.
What consistently strikes me at Noah’s Ark is how much space both animals and humans have to roam around in. We started the day in a group but after getting split up at the start of our visit, we barely glimpsed any of the others again for the entire day.
We may have mislaid our friends but these curious camels came right up to keep us company!
5. The Elephants
In a quest to keep their animals happy and healthy, Noah’s Ark looks at ways of enriching their environments with seasonal changes to keep it as interesting and varied as possible. These African elephants are the largest walking animals on the planet and have massive appetites to match, devouring over 100 kgs of food each day. When we visited, we spent ages in Elephant Eden watching these huge herbivores enjoying the challenge of reaching and climbing up to eat from a box of twigs and vegetables and munching on their seasonal treat of Christmas trees suspended from the rafters above them. I wonder what they’ll have to snack on next time we visit!
As well as their state of the art indoor facility they have masses of room to roam outdoors too.
6. Giant Tortoise Terrain
These Aldabra Giant Tortoises are one of the largest species of tortoise in the world. To me they look like a creature which has survived from a bygone era. Can’t you imagine them living alongside the dinosaurs?
7. Getting up Close to the Big Cats
African lions and Bengal tigers live at the “Big Cat House” at Noah’s Ark. The zoo’s CEO, Anthony Bush came over while we were watching the tigers ripping into their dinner and told us about their diet which includes pigs heads, laying chickens and hens which have died of natural causes.
Khan has lived at the zoo since 2009 and he and Anthony clearly have a soft spot for each other. As his owner approached, Khan came over for some virtual petting. For a moment you could almost think Khan was like a domestic cat, ready to roll over for a cuddle but unlike lions who live sociably in prides, tigers are hostile loners. Would you believe that a male tiger is even capable of eating his own young to entice the adult female to mate again?
Do you think I look brave, petting Khan? After what I’ve just said, you can see how confident I am in the 28 mm bullet proof glass separating us!
8. The Zany Zebras
They may look sedate now while they’re having a munch, but these Grant’s zebras can be super- speedy, running at up to 40 mph. They attracted quite a crowd chasing around like crazy things in their field just outside their house.
9. Climb the Hill up to The White Rhinos
At the top of Rhino Hill you can see the second largest mammals in the world. It’s a steepish walk up but well worth the effort if you can make it. You also get a great view over the whole site from the lookout tower at the top of this hill.
The photo below shows how large this white rhino is compared to my nine year old and how incredibly close you can get to them if they’re curious enough to come over to check you out!
In case you think that netting looks a bit flimsy, these are the bars which are actually keeping the rhino and the boy apart.
10. Play Time
If your children haven’t had enough exercise walking around the whole site, there are some exciting play areas for them to explore, including an undercover soft play area for little ones and a playbarn complete with giant slides for the bigger kids. This outdoor park is near the cafe and, as my boys are older, it was a perfect spot for us to keep half an eye on them while we enjoyed a coffee in the café.
FOOD & DRINK
The busy, toasty café was especially welcome on such a cold day. We were provided with hot chocolate and samples of tasty pizzas which are freshly made in their kitchens. The pizzas were very good and at £9.95 for a large 12″ pepperoni, margherita or ham and pineapple, I think they’re pretty good value for money, especially as they’re ideal for sharing (unless you’re a permanently hungry teenage boy in which case a whole one might make a nice little snack ?.).
The ticket price at Noah Ark includes most activities but there are a few chargeable items. These include:-
Special events and experiences, animal (and human) food, tractor rides (£2 per person), and making a souvenir.
My nine year old was keen to make a souvenir penny in the machine in the elephant enclosure. He hasn’t done it before and enjoyed the process of putting the coin in, winding the wheel and receiving his souvenir at the end. I only had one child with me at the time so it only cost me a pound. Bargain!
We had a long, enjoyable day at Noah’s Ark Zoo but I do find the ticket price a bit steep. If I booked on-line, which is the cheapest way, a Saturday ticket for us (2 adults and 3 children) would currently set us back just under £65. I’d like to see a family ticket on offer as we’d be more likely to return if there was a discount on the individual ticket price for our family of five. A membership could be a good option and offers some perks but you’d need to visit more than five times per year to make it viable.
There is a lot here though and we still didn’t manage to see everything even though we stayed until the gates closed! I love the vast green spaces coupled with plenty of indoor space which make it a year round attraction. A great deal of thought has been given to the welfare of the large number of species which live here: The environments we saw were well thought out, stimulating and spacious and the staff were knowledgeable, caring and patient enough to answer as many questions as an inquisitive nine year old could bombard them with!
My sister was also impressed:-
“The staff answered questions about the animals with enthusiasm, telling us how they clean the rhino cages and how the rhinos can freely go outside. As we were leaving Noah’s Ark, a zoo keeper came up to us and was keen to know if we had enjoyed our day. It added a personal touch to our visit, especially as we later learned that he was the owner!”
Noah’s Ark offers a great family day out with plenty to see and do for adults and children of all ages.
NOAH’S ARK HANDY INFO & TIPS
- Book on-line to save money on the walk up price. (If you’re likely to visit more than 5 times a year, membership could be the best option.)
- There are picnic areas both indoors and outdoors as well as a cafe and other food and beverage outlets on-site.
- The way the enclosures have been built means you can get up-close to many of the animals. My nine year old and I were fascinated by the tigers and how they come right up to the glass so you know you’re just millimetres away from these wild cats. You can also get close to the small animals which can be particularly appealing for younger children.
- There’s a daily what’s on guide both in leaflet form and on-line so you can map your day out in advance if that’s the way you like to roll.
- Despite being a working farm, Noah’s Ark tries to be accessible to all. Please contact them in advance if you’d like free hire of one of their wheelchairs.
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OTHER FAMILY ATTRACTIONS IN THE AREA
DISCLOSURE: WE WERE HOSTED BY NOAH’S ARK ZOO FARM FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS REVIEW. ALL OPINIONS ARE MY OWN AND I CONTAIN FULL EDITORIAL CONTROL. ARTICLE MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS.