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Female Snow Leopard in Marwell Zoo, Hampshire, UK


If you need an alternative to beach and pool action, you’ll find the captivating world of animals and adventure at Marwell Zoo the perfect choice for a family day out. There’s something to intrigue visitors of all ages, with hundreds of animals and extensive parkland to enjoy - including five adventure playgrounds.

At just under an hour’s drive from Elmers Court, the zoo offers enough to see and do to make it your base for the day and you’ll need at least four hours to fully explore. Imagine your visit to Marwell as a walking safari – there are 140 acres of beautiful parkland to roam, after all – and animals will often appear when you’re casually strolling by, rather than being present at the time you have decided they will show up!

For a real taste of the wild, you may be lucky enough to see giraffes, snow leopards, hippos, zebras, penguins and everybody’s favourite – the stunning amur tigers. These are the animal superstars but there’s a wealth of talent amongst the supporting cast and the specialist areas, which offer atmospheric and immersive experiences, are fantastic fun.

Check out the two-tiered Tropical House, packed with tropical plants and diverse wildlife occupying the treetop canopy and lively forest floor. Get into the safari spirit and spot white rhinos, scimitar-horned oryx and Grevy’s zebra from a special boardwalk observation platform - three iconic species that are part of an important conservation project. Take the path to Fur, Feathers and Scales with the drama of its colourful aviary making way for the fur section - a cosy home for the red pandas – and the wallaby walkthrough, which offers red-necked and parma wallabies a relaxing environment beside their own little creek. Finish in the cold-blooded corner where you might spy the gila monster - one of only two venomous lizards in the world - or the pretty Egyptian tortoise amongst the fascinating array of characters here.

Dinosaur fans are well served by the fabulous models in Brickosaurus! Evolution, a special area dedicated to an assorted herd of impressive, brick-built dinosaurs. Budding paleontologists will enjoy following the trail map, with the Fossil Zone an essential stopping point.

Lemur, Marwell Zoo

If you fancy a break from animal spotting, kids can let off steam in one of five adventure playgrounds that are tailored to suit certain age ranges – so you’ll find Penguin Cove is great for the smallest visitors (up to 6 years old), whereas Fur, Feathers & Scales works well for kids between 4 and 10 and Okapi is more fulfilling for 6-to-14-year-olds. Grown-ups might prefer a calmer respite and if you head for Marwell Hall itself, you’ll discover a tranquil setting and a bit of garden history, with its formal gardens encompassing styles from the 16th and 17th centuries.

There are cafes for those all-important pit-stops and plenty of picnic benches if you want to graze while you’re out and about. And if it all gets too much, hop onto the Road Train at Okapi Station (pay by card at the station, tickets £2, children under 3 and carers exempt) for a stress-free journey as the train winds around the perimeter of the grounds, with the opportunity to see animals from the comfort of your carriage.

Penguins, Marwell Zoo

Planning ahead is a great idea so you have a rough idea of what your day looks like and you can download a handy map of the Zoo layout by visiting their website – or, download the free app which will give you up to date information, as well as a map, during your visit.

It is also essential to pre-book your tickets for entry and a set arrival time – you won’t be able to turn up and pay on the day. It’s also worth noting that the zoo is cash-free so you will only be able to pay by card once you’re inside.

Rhino, Marwell Zoo