134 Corstorphine Road
Tel: 0131 3349171
About Edinburgh Zoo
Edinburgh Zoo is located on Corstorphine Road and is a world-renowned family attraction and conservation and breeding centre, being the world’s first zoo to house and breed penguins –the emblem of Edinburgh Zoo.
A ticket to Edinburgh Zoo grants the visitor freedom to roam through natural enclosures and see over 120 species and some 1000+ animals. The most extensive and exciting wildlife attraction in Scotland, Edinburgh Zoo is based in 82 acres of parkland on the outskirts of the capital and is the only zoo in Britain to house polar bears and koalas.
A family day out to the Scottish National Zoological Park charity site provides the ticket holder with a fascinating and fun insight into one of Europe’s premier centres of animal conservation, education and research. Founded on Corstorphine Hill in 1913, it welcomes over 650,000 visitors a year – Scotland’s second most popular ticket-entry tourist attraction after Edinburgh Castle.
As well as the breeding of endangered species, the enticing family attraction where penguins first went on show in January 1914 – after Christian Salvesen’s whaling expedition docked in Leith – and saw the first successful hatching of a king penguin chick in 1919 – provides a host of other attractions.
Open every day including Christmas Day, the VisitScotland four-star family attraction features the rare Indian Rhinoceros and breeding Amur Tigers, as well as other impressive big cats such as jaguars.
A family day out to Edinburgh Zoo should also take in mammals such as African hunting dogs, bush dogs, Maned Wolf, wolverines, ratels, European sousliks, marbled polecats, Pallas cats, Temminck’s golden cats, margays, vicunas, bongo, Siberian musk and various other types of deer, Kudu, goral, nyalas, Dik-diks, takins, capybaras, tapirs, pygmy hippopotamus, Red River Hogs, Visayan Warty Pigs, warthogs, aye-ayes, purple-faced Langurs, drills and lemurs.
For those who fancy some monkeying about on their family day out, a ticket to Edinburgh Zoo brings visitors face to face with titi monkeys, gelada baboons and the star-turn of the pimate section, a large group of inquisitive and playful Chimpanzees, who regularly entertain their human cousins, especially at feeding time. Their antics amid the climbing frames and vegetation are just the ticket for a fun family day out.
Edinburgh Zoo also boasts family day out favourites such as the cuddly and curious otters, the feedling time foolery of the Sealions, the snuffling and shuffling Giant Anteater, majestic zebra and, preventing anyone from getting the hump on a family day out, the Bactrian Camel.
The family attraction is further brightened by its famed large collection of penguins, including king, gentoo and rockhopper penguins. One of the kings is known as Colonel-in-Chief Nils Olav II, who leads a popular daily Penguin Parade, where the penguins are released from their enclosure and waddle around penguin plaza behind their keepers.
Other birds at Edniburgh Zoo include flamingos, cassowarys, Steller’s sea eagles, storks, crane, Rhea, owls, hammerkops, parrots and Victoria Crowned Pigeons – just the ticket for all twitchers.
Additionally, Edinburgh Zoo’s recent Rainbow Landings walk-through aviary houses hyperactive lories and lorikeets that fly in and among ticket holders, feeding from nectar in small pots available at the Zoo shops.
Other indoors residents at the family attraction include pythons, corn snakes, Indian Star tortoises, guinea pigs, a Cockatoo, axolotls, tarantulas, White’s tree frog, Madagascar hissing cockroaches and giant African land snails. Many are available to ticket holders for Close Encounters animal handling sessions held daily in the Discovery Centre.
Edinburgh Zoo possesses a rich horticultural heritage too, Thomas Blaikie’s plant nursery pre-dating the family attraction and following the fashion of the French parks that he had planted, such as ‘La Bagatelle’. The nursery produced new varieties of apple and Edinburgh Zoo inherited one of the most diverse tree collections in the country, with 120 species. The south-facing aspect means a micro-climate allows bananas to thrive, and Edinburgh Zoo nurtures horticulture and habitats within the animal enclosures, providing them with foodstuffs and gardens with captivating displays, from summer scented pelargoniums to winter alpines.
Additionally, the Edinburgh Zoo gardens’ 200-year old Mansion House venue offers corporate events 10 minutes from the centre of Edinburgh, and with south-facing views of the Pentland Hills. It caters for weddings, conferences, business meetings or group meals after a family day out. Situated in a hollow bounded by wooded hills, the Burgh of Corstorphine was a favourite retreat of Edinburgh businessmen from the 16th century onwards.
In 1793, William Keith built Corstorphine Hill House, which is the core of Edinburgh Zoo’s Mansion House. In 1912, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland purchased the house and grounds for £17,000, including its own ghost, gratis – a grey lady in the upper floors of the older part of the House.
Among the Edinburgh Zoo Mansion House facilities are the Keith Room circular lounge, oak-panelled Gillespie Room main dining space, Geddes Room diner, Salvesen Room conference facility and upstairs Macmillan Room coffee lounge with elaborate Victorian its plasterwork.
Edinburgh Zoo additionally offers ticket holders the chance to take a free Hilltop Safari ride via two Safari vehicles that begin their journeys with the sea lions, ascending the summit of the hill, and returning, while the driver-guide gives a running commentary over the 30 minute route.
Further fun on a family day out to Edinburgh Zoo can be had in special play areas; taking an opportunity to meet a keeper; following the tiger trail to look for clues on the way to the Russian ranger station; studying the penguins at the penguin field station; partaking in handling sessions with some of the smaller mammals, insects, snakes and lizards; doing a brass rubbing; or picnicking on the hilltop or on the ornamental lawns in front of the Mansion House.
Edinburgh Zoo has a fine Gift shop and the specialist Penguin Shop, numerous kiosks, the Stripes Café next to the Mansion House and the Oasis in the middle of the Zoo, and with disabled access throughout, the family attraction offers a thoroughly enjoyable and educational family day out that everyone can enjoy.