Colchester Zoo

Colchester Zoo supports conservation in the wild, actively helping a number of different projects around the world, which are all working to protect endangered species. These projects are supported through the zoo’s charitable arm Action for the Wild, which was set up in 1993 and achieved charitable status in 2004.


Plan your day around feeding/ encounter times. Feeding the giraffes and elephants is a must do and can be done in succession. Use your map carefully and go off the beaten track as often as you can. Through the tiger enclosure is a newly built nature reserve where all the family can do pond dipping or sit in the bird spotting enclosure. The Discovery Center is worth a visit to get up close and personal with some creepy crawlies and it is where to get your face painted! Please don’t bother with the Lost Madagascar Train unless there is no queue and you have time to kill. It really isn’t worth queuing for as it only goes to one enclosure and back again. From Out of Africa make a decision as to which way to go if you want to avoid doubling back – either head over to the tiger and the nature reserve or branch out to the Wallaby Walkabout near which you can also feed the goats and see the giant tortoises.

The Zoo shop is typically positioned so that you have to walk through it to get back to the car. The quality of goods and pricing is reasonable. There are sufficient pocket money priced bits but avoid the more expensive gift shop opposite unless you are brave (smart kids will work out that this is where the better quality loot is hidden!) A fabulous day out for all ages and well worth the visit.

Address: Maldon Road Colchester Essex CO3 0SL. Colchester Zoo is located just south of Colchester. Take the A1124 exit (Junction 26) off the main A12 following the brown elephant signs and using the new Stanway Western Bypass. About 40 minutes traffic permitting from Junction 28 of the M25. Set your Sat Nav for CO3 0SL.


Playgrounds: The playgrounds around the zoo are fab! Sometimes too good if you are on a mission to see the animals and the kids are on a mission to play! Kids’ Safari at the entrance is an exciting adventure play area with multiple layers of play including two huge towers with a ‘Lion Lookout’ at the top and a three lane slide and a lower level savannah boardwalk area for younger children to enjoy. It includes wheelchair friendly pathways and DDA approved equipment and is the largest Eibe play area in the UK! Suitable for all walking ages with an adult to steady the smaller ones. Meerkat Hangout and Play area is a smaller play area and suitable from toodlers upwards, it is down Leopard Hill towards the Suricata Sands meerkat exhibit. Remi Brown Play area is a large play area in the Edge of Africa area of Colchester Zoo close to the mandrill and hyena enclosures. The Waterhole Play area can be found near the elephant and giraffe paddocks. It can be a bit stinky though, hard to tell if that is from the wildlife or the loos.

Café: Mainly fast food cafes around the Zoo, offering sausage rolls and toasted sandwiches. Ice cream is in abundance and there are lots of places to sit and enjoy a picnic even in the rain. Café UmPhafa serves hot meals including a full English breakfast up till 11:30am. They also have healthy children’s lunch boxes. Other options are The Wrap Bar, Southern Friend Chicken, The Patisserie, The Sausage Hut, Naughty and Nice and Tiger Taiga Chip n Dip – none of the food is of super quality but it fills a hole. Food does tend to sell out quite early in the smaller eateries. Pricing is reasonable for a day out but won’t break the bank like London Zoo.

Toilets: Plenty of loos that are clean and accesilble. Baby Changing is limited to 1 per toilet block and are adequate. There are also some male changing and feeding facilities.

Pram / Pushchair / Wheelchair Accessible: A buggy can be taken everywhere but there are some steep inclines so it isn’t for the feint hearted. Wheelchair access is also a plenty but can be a challenge on the tougher gradients near the penguins. There is an easier route marked out with a yellow line on the ground around the zoo. Buggy parks are provided outside the soft play center. Some of the ‘walk through’ enclosures don’t allow a buggy so they need to be either left outside or one of the group need to walk round to the exit of the enclosure.

Parking: There is lots of parking on site but if you arrive after midday it is worth going round the part of the car park close to the entrance by the ample disabled parking bays, early visitors will be leaving by then and you may find a cheeky spot and avoid traipsing to and from the car. 

Nearest Station: Colchester Main Train Station can be reached from Liverpool Street services from London within in an hour or is easily reached along the Lowestoft or Norwich networks to Ipswich and then on to Colchester. Colchester Zoo is just 10 minutes by taxi or can be reached by bus. Not advisable to try walking from the station.

Phone : 01206 331292.


Ticket prices below:

Adult E ticket £13.49 / Gate £14.99

Child (3-14yrs) E ticket £9.89 / Gate £10.99

Senior (Over 60yrs) E ticket £11.69 / Gate £12.99

Disabled E ticket £6.75 / Gate £7.50

Carer E ticket £6.75 / Gate £7.50

Free app with interactive Zoo Map:

Originally known as Stanway Hall Park Zoo, the zoo was opened on the 2nd June 1963 by Frank and Helena Farrar and so celebrated its 50th birthday in 2013! In the 60s a lion called Rajah appeared in many of the Tarzan films.

In 2005, Colchester Zoo purchased three farms to develop the UmPhafa Private Nature Reserve in South Africa where zebra, rhino, giraffe and countless other animals have been released. Colchester Zoo continues to grow and develop to meet the demands of the 21st century and strives to ensure that it leads the way in the fields of conservation, education and research.

Encounter times:

10:30 – Rhino Iguana

10:00 Capuchin monkey

10:30 Rhino iguana

11:30 Sealion presentation

11:30 Koi carp

12:00 Orangutan

12:00 Komodo dragon

12:00 Penguin presentation

12:00 Animal display, Wild Displays

12:15 Public giraffe feed

12:30 Public elephant feed

12:45 Mangabey monkey

13:00 Red panda

14:00 Animal display, Wild Displays

14:00 Sealion presentation

14:00 Amur Leopard

14:15 Orangutan

14:15 Public giraffe feed

14:30 Public elephant feed

14:30 Smooth coated otters

14:45 Timber wolf

14:45 Giant tortoise

15:00 Meerkat

15:00 Spotted hyena

15:00 Penguin presentation

15:10 Amur Tiger

15:15 Mandrill Monkey Over 270 speicies!

The chimp world is currently closed for improvement (October 2015)

Must sees: The Sealion Tunnel at Playa Patagonia and through to the gentle and gorgeous Orangutans – spot Nemo and Dory in the tank nearby. Bailey – the Lion and his lionesses. You can hear his roar across the whole zoo! Out of Africa – stinky in places so allow your nose to acclimatize and then enjoy – don’t miss the baby hippo inside near the giraffes.

Review by Christina Shields.


Founder of MGF, Helen is a mum of four who spends way too much time on the interweb and not enough time in bed. She loves wearing her dressing gown, car boot sales and watching TV programmes featuring food. Her specialist subjects include 'how to overfill your car boot' and 'how to avoid dusting'. Follow her at Twitter: @Ginfund, Facebook: @MGFund, Instagram: @mummysginfund and online:


  1. Having been to most zoos within a 200 mile radius of our house my son likes this one the best!!!

    He still goes on about feeding the giraffes and the elephants to this day!

    Massively recommend for a wonderful day out!