15 Best Zoos In South England

Who doesn’t love a zoo! A fun day out for all the family is practically guaranteed. Let’s dive in to our list of the 15 of the best zoos in South England.

From East to West – all of the zoos we mention are within the South of England.

1. Howletts Wild Animal Park


Travel to Kent and you’ll find an award winning wildlife attraction – Howletts Wild Animal Park!

Not only has it won awards, it’s also Kent’s original wildlife park.

When you visit, you directly help Howletts to protect wildlife all over the UK. That’s beacuse it’s a dedicated animal conservation charity.

They send animals back to the wild with The Aspinall Foundation.

Animals To See At Howletts

Here, you’ll be able to see over 390 animals!

Look out for the giant anteaters (the only ones in Kent!) as well as the UK’s largest herd of African elephants.

This zoo also has more leopards, gorillas and monkeys than any other within the county!

Arina, the amur tiger, is one of their most popular attractions.

2. Port Lympne Reserve

Here’s another where your visit supports the care of animals – not only within the reserve but overseas too!

There’s so much to do here. Explore the Primate Trail where you’ll discover endangered primates and check out The Palace of the Apes.

Did you say dinosaurs? That’s right – forget Jurrasic Park! Their Dinosaur Forest is jam packed with life size dinosaurs!

Animals To See At Port Lympne

At Port Lympne Reserve, you’ll get to see over 900 endangered and rare animals. Or how about a safari to see free-roaming giraffes?

Check out the only spectacled bears in Kent or even experience the largest dinosaur collection within the UK!

You’ll also see the largest herd of black rhino in the UK!

Don’t forget to take pictures of the gorillas, lions, tigers, bears, leopards…

3. Drusillas Park

Drusillas Park

Some call this the best small zoo in the whole country!

Drusillas Park have created a spectacular animal and child friendly environment. You won’t be short of fun experiences here.

It’s no ordinary zoo. Get the theme park experience including Go Wild! and Amazon Adventure.

Animals To See At Drusillas

You can find hundreds of animals here, including:

  • Red Pandas
  • Bactrian Camels
  • Humboldt Penguins
  • Rainbow Lorikeets
  • Capuchin Monkeys
  • Cotton-Top Tamarins
  • Capybaras
  • Flamingos
  • Prairie Dogs
  • Parma Wallabies
  • Agoutis
  • Snowy Owls
  • Miniature Donkeys
  • Arabian Rock Hyrax
  • Armadillo

And much, much more! There’s even options for close encounters with some of the animals and they can host birthday parties too.

4. British Wildlife Centre

David Mills founded the British Wildlife Centre in 1997 after 30 years of being a dairy farmer.

To start with, visits were pre-booked only bit as of 2000 this wonderful zoo has been open to the public.

They have half-hourly keeper talks where you can learn more about the animals and view them up close and personal.

It’s definitely a zoo to visit with the kids as they open on weekends, bank holidays and during the school holidays.

Animals To See At BWC

Here you get to see the best wildlife that Britain has to offer (over 40 different species!).

From adders to badgers and hedgehogs and wildcats.

5. Marwell Zoo

Marwell Zoo

Another great family day out can be had here at Marwell Zoo.

There’s tons of outdoor space, lots of animals to see and many activities to take part in.

They recommend visiting for at least four hours if it’s your first time here.

Choose to include a donation within the ticket price (as well as selecting gift aid) and you’ll be helping to support their conservation work (Marwell Zoo is also a charity).

Animals To See At Marwell Zoo

Expect to see hundreds of animals at this zoo. There’s amphibians, birds, invertebrates, mammals and reptiles!

Here’s a few of the most popular animals that you’ll get to see:

  • Lemurs
  • Leopards
  • Tigers
  • Snakes
  • Tamarins
  • Zebras
  • Penguins
  • Meerkats
  • Pygmy Hippos
  • Red Pandas
  • Rhinos

There really is a huge collection to make your way through.

6. Wildwood Trust

Protecting, conserving and rewilding – that’s at the hear of Wildwood Trust.

It opened in 1999 and was regarded as a centre of excellence for conservation of British wildlife. In 2002, it was established as a registered charity.

They operate two wildlife parks, both in South England. You’ll find one in Cantebury (Kent) and the other in Escot (Devon).

Animals To See At Wildwood Trust Wildlife Parks

With over 200 native animals, there’s something for everyone here.

Within the beautiful ancient woodland of the parks, you’ll see deer, owls, bison, wolves, bears, horses, badgers, beavers and much more!

They also take park in ground-breaking conservation programmes. One to note is where they helped return red squirrels to where they had been made extinct!

7. Birdworld

Birdworld Zoo In South England

This one’s for the bird lovers!

As the name suggests, birds are the main attraction at Birdworld. If not, don’t worry. The Jenny Wren Farm area of the park is home to some fluffier residents.

They take part in conservation programmes and vital research all around the world.

Animals To See At Birdworld

You’ll be able to see birds, birds and more birds!

There’s owls, penguins, parrots, flamingos and more including some threatened species.

Head over to the farm and you’ll be bale to enjoy the reindeer, rabbits, pigs and sheep that reside here.

8. Heythrop Zoological Gardens

Heythrop Zoological Gardens based in the Cotswolds is set in a private location.

They aim to educate on animal welfare and inspire the next generation to protect the nature and animals that call our planet home.

You’ll have to book to visit here as they aren’t open to the general public. But this also means that you can experience unrivalled animal experiences with their experienced trainers.

Animals To See At Heythrop Zoo

Prepare to encounter these beautiful animals in an unforgettable experience:

  • Llama Encounter
  • Zebra Encounter
  • Two-Toed Sloth
  • Wolf Walking
  • Hippo Encounter
  • Lion Encounter
  • Raven Training
  • Tiger Feeding
  • Striped Skunk
  • Squirrel Monkey
  • Penguin Feeding

9. Hobbledown

An adventure farm makes for a fun time for all the family!

Hobbledown is home too animals as well as indoor barn play, zorbing, adventure play, high ropes and more!

It’s based in Horton (London) by car and public transport really easily.

Animals To See At Hobbledown

There’s a wide collection of both zoo and farm animals to see here, from camels to coatis.

They have spacious enclosures which enable them to roam and play as freely as possible.

Get up close and personal with giant rabbits, goats, guinea pigs, lorikeets and lemurs.

Have an experience to remember and feed the meerkats, handle birds of prey or even take the full zookeeper experience that they have to offer.

You can also see lemurs, wallabies, prairie dogs, otters and much more.

10. BCA Zoo

BCA Zoo is based in Maidenhead. It’s not huge and requires that you book in advance.

There’s free parking on site and this zoo is fully wheelchair accessible.

Animals To See At BCA Zoo

There’s 6 birds, 29 mammals, 28 reptiles, 19 amphibians and 17 invertebrates for you to see.

These include some of the following:

  • Cape Porcupine
  • Brush-Tailed Possum
  • Common Squirrel Monkey
  • Laughing Kookaburra
  • Northern Raccoon
  • Striped Skunk
  • Alpaca
  • African Pygmy Goat
  • Oxford Down Sheep
  • Small Spotted Genet
  • Cuban Rock Iguana
  • Elongated Tortoise
  • Frogs
  • Desertas Wolf Spider

11. Monkey Haven

Monkey Haven Zoo In South England

Monkey Haven is Isle of Wight’s very own primate rescue centre.

It’s award winning and a great place to relax, have fun and meet some brilliant animals.

What makes this place even more special is that it is a sanctuary for animals in need of care and attention. You’ll get to learn all about how and why the came to be at the haven.

Most of the animals here we’re rescued from tragic situations including being found locked up in airports or even severely neglected by previous owners.

Animals To See At Monkey Haven

As the name suggests, you’ll definitely be seeing a monkey or two!

As well as monkeys, you’ll see other rescued animals like owls, reptiles, insects and meerkats.

12. New Forest Wildlife Park

Get ready to enjoy a safe outdoor environment and connect with the natural world.

New Forest Wildlife Park is passionate about conservation efforts and encourage you too learn more about them too.

They are the first park (in the UK) to send a captive-bred giant otter to an international breeding programme outside of the UK (named Katuma).

Animals To See At New Forest Wildlife Park

They’ve got a sizeable collection of mammals, birds and amphibians to see. These include the common toad, owls, foxes, deer, hedgehogs, wolves and more.

13. Liberty’s Owl Raptor and Reptile Centre

At number thirteen we have Liberty’s Owl, Raptor And Reptile Centre.

It’s completely outdoors so pack your coats and brollies (you know what the weather is like in England!).

If the weather is OK, you can experience shows between 12:00 and 14:00 and there’s a café on site serving food and drink.

Animals To See At Libertys

Here you’ll be able to see a wide range of birds of prey, reptiles, snakes and lizards.

Flying displays can be seen (subject to weather) during their open season and experience days can also be booked.

Dog kennels can also be found here.

14. Wingham Wildlife Park

Welcome to Kent’s fastest growing zoo – Wingham Wildlife Park!

You’ll find it just outside of Cantebury and it’s family owned.

However, they proudly house the most animal species out of all wildlife parks and zoos based in Kent!

They offer animal encounters if getting up close and personal is your thing and are open 7 days a week, all year round other than Christmas Day.

If you’re feeling brave, check out their collection of dinosaurs too.

Animals To See At Wingham Wildlife Park

Hundreds of animals await you at this wildlife park.

You’ll get to see:

  • Lemurs
  • Tigers
  • Bears
  • Chimpanzees
  • Pandas
  • Meerkats
  • Penguins
  • Lions
  • Flamingos
  • Monkeys
  • Jaguars

You’ll find that this park is home to some of the world’s most beloved animals.

15. Crocodiles of the World

crocodile zoo

This is the UK’s one and only crocodile zoo! That’s right, crocodile lovers are going mad for this one!

In March 2021, they celebrated 10 years of the zoo being open.

You get to come face-to-face with the world’s most feared predators. But it’s safe and fun so don’t be worried!

Underwater viewing tanks are a must see as well as encounters with crocs and talks with experienced handlers.

Animals To See At Crocodiles of the World Crocodile Zoo

Well, if it wasn’t already obvious the main attraction here is of course the crocodiles!

But it’s not just any old crocodile. There’s Siamese, Chinese, Nile and American crocodiles for you to see.

There’s also caiman and alligators alongside otters, meerkats, giant tortoises and laughing kookaburras.

Visit The Best Zoos In South England

So, we’ve given to 15 of the best zoos in South England that you could possibly visit. Now it’s your turn!

Get out there and see what these fantastic animal experiences have to offer.

If you think there’s a zoo that deserves a mention here, feel free to leave a comment below!