Cornwall is a treasure trove of visitor attractions, offering something for the whole family. Among the county's gems are its amazing zoos and wildlife parks, which provide a home for a large variety of unusual species and carry out vital conservation work.
Some of the top zoos in Cornwall include Newquay Zoo, Cornish Seal Sanctuary, and Paradise Park. Not only are these places great to visit, but they're also doing important work to protect and educate locals and visitors about animals.
If you're looking for a fun and educational day out, you can't go wrong with any of these awesome zoos!
Looking for a different kind of day out in Cornwall? Check out these 7 must-visit Cornish wineries!
Locations of zoos in Cornwall
🐼 Newquay Zoo
Nestled within acres of lush tropical gardens, Newquay Zoo is a great place for a family day trip. Located in the heart of Trenance Gardens and Trenance Leisure Park, this zoo is home to a vast array of exotic animals, with one of its most popular residents being the lovable red panda.
Visitors can enjoy activity trails, keeper talks, junior keeper experiences (which my 8-year-old has got her eye on next time we visit!), and the opportunity to see familiar faces like the adorable Humboldt penguins.
For a break from exploring, Café Lemur (open daily from 10 am) serves up delicious treats to keep everyone refreshed, as does the Lazy Lion Grill takeaway (open during the summer months only).
Unfortunately, the lions have recently moved to Paignton Zoo in Devon (for a bigger home, which can only be a good thing), but despite this big loss, the zoo continues to offer unique animal experiences for visitors.
One of my favourite things to do at the zoo is visit the Tropical House, which is home to many weird and wonderful creatures such as phantasmal dart frogs, Fijian iguanas, red-tailed racer snakes, and a pair of two-toed Hoffmann’s sloth, Roxy and Hadar! It's also a great place to warm up on a wet and cold day.
During 2023 Newquay Zoo is offering free educational visits for local schools, My youngest daughter recently visited with her primary school and she had a fantastic time, her first proper school trip since the COVID-19 pandemic!
📍 Newquay Zoo, Trenance Gardens, Newquay TR7 2NL
Opening Times: Daily 10 am - 5 pm (last admission 4 pm)
Website: Newquay Zoo
🦜 Paradise Park
Paradise Park, located in Hayle (just 5 miles from St Ives), is a popular destination for families seeking lively animal encounters. The park is home to 130 species of birds, as well as red pandas, miniature donkeys, and a variety of farm animals.
There's an indoor children's play area called the Jungle Barn (perfect for when the weather is wet), as well as the Jungle Express Train (dry weather only), which takes you through the gardens of Glanmor House.
Talking of the gardens, Paradise Park was founded in 1973 by the late Mike Reynolds, who came to Cornwall with his family to start a tropical bird garden. His principal aim at that time was to house and breed rare and endangered birds, especially parrots. Now, several decades later, the gardens have become an attraction in themselves and are an ideal setting for the many exotic bird species to be seen here.
The lovely cafe on site serves all the usual lunch fayre (pasties, sandwiches, and jacket potatoes) as well as a delicious Cornish cream tea (make sure you put the jam on first!).
📍Paradise Park, 16 Trelissick Road, Hayle, Cornwall, UK, TR27 4HB
Opening Times: Summer 7 days a week from 10 am to 5:30 pm with last entry at 4 pm. Winter Opening Times from 31st October 2022 (Open 10 am to 4 pm, doors close at 3 pm).
Website: Paradise Park
🦈 Blue Reef Aquarium
Nestled in the coastal town of Newquay the Blue Reef Aquarium offers a captivating journey into the underwater world of marine life.
Situated on Towan Beach, it boasts a diverse range of aquatic habitats, featuring species from local Cornish waters to exotic tropical environments.
One of the highlights of the Blue Reef Aquarium is its spectacular Ocean Tunnel, which offers an unparalleled view of the underwater world. As you walk through this 250,000-litre display, you'll be surrounded colourful marine life, including graceful rays, eels, and blacktip reef sharks.
With a focus on conservation and education, the Blue Reef Aquarium is perfect for visitors of all ages.
📍 Blue Reef Aquarium, Towan Promenade, Newquay, Cornwall, TR7 1DU
Opening Times: 10 am – 5 pm, last entry 4 pm
Website: Blue Reef Aquarium
🦭 Cornish Seal Sanctuary
The Cornish Seal Sanctuary, in Gweek, run by the Sea Life Trust, is another great place to visit for animal lovers.
The sanctuary is dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of seals and offers an insight into the vital conservation work they undertake. Each season (September - March), the Sanctuary rehabilitates over 70 seal pups that have been rescued for various reasons, from malnourishment to being separated from their mum.
Visitors can enjoy the seal pools, watch feeding sessions, and learn about the seals' rescue stories.
📍The Cornish Seal Sanctuary, Gweek, Cornwall, TR12 6UG.
Opening Times: Daily from 11 am to 4 pm, with last admissions at 3 pm
Website: Cornish Seal Sanctuary
🦓 Porfell Wildlife Park
Porfell Wildlife Park located a few miles from Looe in South East Cornwall, offers sanctuary to many different animals from around the world which have either been neglected, injured, imported illegally or simply no longer wanted.
Their ethos is that animals are not on this earth to entertain us, but their very existence is a source of wonder and amazement. That’s why they take in animals of all types at all stages of their life: the ‘cute’ and the ‘ugly’ (whatever those phrases mean), the healthy and the frail.
When Porfell Wildlife Park opened in 1989 it was just a small farm with a few pigs and chickens. Now, it’s also home to beautiful birds, parrots, owls, reptiles like giant leopard tortoises, graceful zebra and eland, and an ever-growing gang of crazy meerkats.
There is a small tea room on site, but there are also plenty of places to lay out your picnic blanket if you'd rather bring your own food.
📍 Porfell WIldlife Park, Trecangate, Porfell, Liskeard PL14 4RE
Opening Times: From 1st April to 31st October 10 am - 4 pm.
Website: Porfell Wildlife Park
🐒 Wild Futures Monkey Sanctuary
Wild Futures Monkey Sanctuary, situated near Looe, is a vital conservation project that provides a home for rescued monkeys.
The sanctuary has been offering a safe haven for monkeys since 1964 and is now run by Wild Futures, a UK registered charity founded upon over five decades of experience in the field of primate welfare and conservation, environmental education, and sustainable practice.
The Monkey Sanctuary educates thousands of visitors on primate welfare and conservation each year, giving visitors an intimate insight into a working sanctuary. However, the sanctuary faces a very uncertain future due to the pandemic and is in need of help to continue its work rescuing and caring for monkeys rescued from situations of abuse and neglect from the UK primate pet trade.
They encourage people to pre-book their visits but do allow walk-in visitors if they're not too busy.
📍Wild Futures Monkey Sanctuary, Murrayton House, St Martin, Looe, Cornwall, PL13 1NZ
Opening Times: February Half Term - 31st October 11 am - 3:30 pm or 4:30 pm
Website: Wild Futures Monkey Sanctuary
🦉 Screech Owl Sanctuary
Screech Owl Sanctuary is a family-owned visitor attraction located in mid-Cornwall, near Newquay.
The sanctuary, home to a wide range of owls and other animals such as lemurs, wallabies, and meerkats, was founded in 1990 with a mission to encourage others to value the natural world.
The sanctuary offers a range of activities, including daily owl flying displays, animal encounters (at an additional cost), and educational talks.
Their newly refurbished tea room serves a selection of light snacks and lunches, with the children's play area located adjacent to it.
📍 Screech Owl Sanctuary, Goss Moor, nr. Indian Queens, Cornwall, UK. TR9 6HP
Website: Open daily from 1st April - end of October 10 am - 4 pm.
🦙 Llama Lland
Nestled in the centre of the Cornish countryside only three miles from Truro, Llama Lland is set within a 140-acre family farm that has been in the Tripp family for over one hundred years.
Established in 2001, Llama Lland has become a sought-after attraction for those looking for an unusual experience in the beautiful countryside.
All visits to Llama Land must be pre-booked in advance.
📍 Penare Farm, Shortlanesend, Truro, TR4 9DG
Opening Times: All visits must be pro-booked.
Website: Llama Lland
Frequently asked questions
Newquay Zoo is the largest zoo in Cornwall and is located near Newquay town centre. The zoo currently covers 13 acres and houses 130 different species of animals.
The lions have moved to Paignton Zoo for a bigger better home.
Yes, Newquay Zoo is home to a colony of Humboldt penguins. Visitors can observe the penguins in their specially designed habitat, which includes a swimming area for the birds to dive and swim. There are also daily feeding and talk sessions, allowing visitors to learn more about these fascinating creatures, their natural habitats, and conservation efforts to protect the species.
Allow 2-3 hours to walk around the zoo.
Zoos in Cornwall: A Recap
These zoos in Cornwall are great for families who love to connect with nature and learn about conservation efforts. Make sure you check their respective websites for the latest information on opening times, events, and special experiences.
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