On the south-west edge of Dartmoor National Park you’ll find Dartmoor Zoo. The park covers 30 acres and has an interesting history. Ellis Daw founded the Devon zoo in 1968, naming it Dartmoor Wildlife Park. He ran it successfully for over three decades. In 2001 the park garnered the interest of animal welfare activists. The living conditions of the animals and the safety for visitors came into question. After investigating the claims, the local council fined Ellis Daw. The poor living conditions of his Siberian Tigers and unlawful breeding were the basis for their penalty. In 2006 the wildlife park’s licence was revoked and it closed to the public.
Benjamin Mee and his family stepped in to buy the zoo in 2007. They re-opened the park as Dartmoor Zoo. Benjamin later wrote the book ‘We Bought a Zoo’ about their experience. A movie based on the book was released in 2011. In two separate incidences, a jaguar and a lynx have escaped from the zoo. The latter living free in the Devon countryside for three weeks before it was re-captured. Today, Dartmoor Zoological Park is a member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) and has been awarded Eden’s top wildlife attraction. They are part of several breeding programs including ones for marmosets, meerkats and tapirs.
Since the Coronavirus lockdown, Dartmoor zoo, along with other zoos in Devon, has had to close. An easing of the lockdown regulations is taking place and zoos are now allowed to open to the public, however, Dartmoor zoo remains closed.
“We are currently preparing for visitors.” said a representative for Dartmoor Zoo. “We’re not open yet, but do expect to be open sometime in July. Please check our website for updates later in the week.”
Devon has two other zoos – Paignton zoo an hour away from Langstone Manor Park on the east coast of Devon and Exmoor zoo, an hour and a half north of our holiday park. Paignton zoo also plans to open to the public in July and Exmoor zoo have confirmed they will open their doors to season ticket holders on July 4th, 2020 and the rest of the public the following day.
Dartmoor zoo prices start at £9.95 for children over 3 and £13.95 for Adults and teenagers 16 and over. Discounts on entry are available for groups of 15 or more. The zoo is home to a number of big cat species, tamarins and around 70 other different mammals. 38 kinds of birds, various reptiles, insects and amphibians can also be found in their roomy enclosures.
Self-catered accommodation options and camping grounds are expected to be open to holidaymakers on the 4th of July. We’re already preparing for our guests. The easy proximity and the wide range of animals that can be seen at Dartmoor Zoo make it an ideal day out for families holidaying with us.