There are so many things I like about Banham Zoo – and that’s before you even get to the animals.
We’ve been visiting once or twice a year since Freya was a baby – more for Mark’s benefit at that time – and she really loves it now, especially because there are two cheetahs among more than 2,000 animals – and Fuli, from The Lion Guard, is her absolute favourite.
Set in 50 acres, it opened in 1968 with a collection of parrots and pheasants before acquiring a colony of monkeys in 1971. Since then it has gone from strength to strength – often crowned Norfolk’s Top Attraction by various organisations – and in 2013 it became part of the Zoological Society of East Anglia, a charity which also owns Africa Alive in Suffolk.
The staff, who all seem to do lots of different jobs (when we visited in winter the same lady who painted Freya’s face also drove the train and fed the cheetahs), are always so friendly and happy to answer questions. What’s more they really seem to love all creatures great and small – and are especially invested in the ones they care for. That comes across so well in the way they talk about them with such pride and passion.
I also want to mention the food, which is simple but oh-so-delicious. I had to compliment the lady who served us on one visit because, even though I only had a jacket potato with cheese and beans with a lovely fresh salad, it was perfection. For some reason I never expected that at a zoo, maybe I should?
Ok, but what can you see?
Of course, what you really go to the zoo for is the animals. On our most recent visit, it was all about the birds for me so I thought I’d share a few photos here.
There are also reptiles, fish, amphibians and invertebrates, such as the red-legged millipede I got to hold on one visit, mammals, like Freya’s favourite below and a Siberian tiger which took me by surprise on a previous trip, and also domestic livestock. You can find a list here.
If you want a break from walking, there is a fantastic indoor Amazing Animals display, which has been really entertaining every time we’ve been, a birds of prey demonstration, which was very special for our family recently, and various animal feedings to watch.
Two of my favourite things are the lemur encounter, where you can walk through their enclosure and get very close, and also Eureka! Anamazing Oasis. The latter is always so warm that my camera steams up but on our most recent trip it was a bit cooler in the afternoon and I managed to get some photos, including of the Victorian Crowned Pigeon at the very top and this Postman butterfly.
The eagle-eyed might also spot a sloth among the exotic trees and plants. You can find out more about the animals in this area here.
Freya, who has endless energy, also loves the outdoor children’s play area and the small indoor softplay area, where she also gets her face painted.
If your legs get tired from all the walking/playing you can also take a ride on the safari road train (although it’s worth doing this anyway for the accompanying talk).
All in all, it’s a great day out for all ages.
What does it cost?
Discounted tickets can be booked online before you go, all the details are here.
In May 2017 online prices were – adults, £18.15, children (three – 15), £12.95 and there are various concessions. Season tickets are also available.
The zoo runs both on-the-day and pre-bookable animal experiences, which look a lot of fun. As do the birthday parties (am I too old?).
For details of how to get there and everything else, please click here.
Hopefully I have all the names of the animals correct but I’m no expert so if you spot one you think is wrong, please let me know.