One sure-fire ingredient for a happy, fun family day out is a good sprinkling of animals; from the exotic to the just plain ordinary, children and adults alike can't resist a bit of animal magic!
Here in the West Midlands and Worcestershire we've got zoos, children's farms, a safari park and even a monkey forest to help us grown-ups rediscover our inner child and to let the kids be - well, kids!
*Covid19 Update*: our local zoos and animal parks will begin to re-open from 15th June. However, expect restrictions to be in place and check the details with each venue before setting off. Please respect the guidelines.
Here our some of our favourite places to visit:
West Midland Safari Park, Spring Grove House, Kidderminster DY12 1LF
West Midland Safari Park is an award winning visitor attraction, located in Worcestershire in the heart of England. It is home to a variety of all-weather attractions, including four miles of drive-through safari, the largest animatronic dinosaur exhibit in the UK and an Adventure Theme Park. The four-mile self-drive safari is home to some of the world's most beautiful and critically endangered animals. Split into African and Asian areas, almost all of the animals are free-roaming and can literally walk straight past your car. The walk-through Discovery Trail is a fantastic all-weather attraction, hosting a number of animal exhibits - Penguin Cove, Twilight Cave, Creepy Crawlies, SeaQuarium, Mark O'Shea's Reptile World, Lorikeet Landing, Land of the Living Dinosaurs, there is also an African Village, housing the largest Lemur walk-through in the UK. Little ones will enjoy Boj's playground and the new Ice Age attraction! Save up to 30% when booking online at - https://www.wmsp.co.uk/tickets/
Dudley Zoological Gardens Castle Hill, Dudley DY1 4QF
It's not very often (if ever) that you find a zoo with hundreds of animals, set around an 11th century castle, on a 40-acre wooded hillside with a rich geological history; so how lucky are we, that we've got exactly that right here on our doorstep! Dudley Zoo is home to more than 1300 animals (nearly 200 species) including tigers, giraffes, reptiles, lemurs, penguins and birds of prey. There are cafes, kiosks and picnic areas to keep you going throughout the day and of course the castle to explore. It's quite hilly in places, but there is a little red train to take visitors around the site.
Hatton Adventure World at Hatton Country World, Dark Lane, Warwick CV35 7LD
Set in the beautiful Warwickshire countryside there are fun fair rides, children's shows, falconry displays and tractor rides as well as the guinea pig village and lots of animals to see and handle and lots of space to picnic! Set in Hatton Country World, you can also enjoy the cafes, shops and indoor play area.
Little Owl Farm Park is a little gem, tucked away near Hartlebury in Worcestershire. It's a family run farm attraction, open Tuesdays - Fridays during term time and each day during the school holidays. Enjoy children's trails, animal demonstrations and petting opportunities, as well as go-karting and sheepstakes.
Umberslade Farm Park, Tanworth in Arden, Warwickshire, B94 5AE
Umberslade Farm Park is not just a visitor attraction, it is a real working farm which enables visitors to experience many aspects of modern agriculture from animal husbandry to arable production. This means that there is something to do and see all year round, with activities changing as the seasons move on. Amongst the regular attractions at Umberslade Farm Park you can: Learn to hand-milk and feed a goat, Feed hens and handle chicks and ducklings, Handle rabbits and guinea View pigs and piglets, Take a tractor and trailer ride around the farm, Enjoy a pony ride, Relax on a woodland walk, Take up the challenge of an indoor foam cannon battle. This award winning farm is always a pleasure for young and old.
Bodenham Arboretum, Wolverley, DY11 5TB. There are over 200 North Country mule ewes with their lambs in springtime, Pedigree Herefordshire cows with calves at foot, and also 'free range' poultry around the farmyard. For most of the year the farm raises young pigs to maturity. Enjoy a children's trail each school holiday.
Forest school activities at Bodenham Arboretum are provided by The World Outside - please see the website for details.
Rays Farm Country Matters, Billingsley, Bridgnorth, Shropshire WV16 6PF
Relax and unwind as you amble through the ancient woodlands and winding pathways, enjoying the wild flowers and ferns; listening to the unmistakable sound of the Woodpecker; catching sight of the spectacular Kingfisher and discovering the myth and magic carvings along the way.
Back at the farm, you'll find all sorts of animals from owls to ponies and from ducks to goats as well as play areas for all ages and a coffee shop to help you re-fuel! There's even a sandpit play area for those warmer days.
Wolverley Animal Centre, Wolverley Secondary School, Blakeshall Lane.
An Educational Animal Centre, based in the grounds of Wolverley CE Secondary School. The centre offers courses in Animal Care and Welfare, educational encounters, children's parties and more, all with access to their wonderful animals. They often run Holiday Clubs in the school holidays too.
Fairytale Farm Southcombe, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, OX7 5QH
This is the UK’s first visitor attraction that is open to all, but where disabled children come first in our design and layout. A truly inclusive experience, where everything is accessible and everybody is welcome. Mixing classic fairy tales, animals and adventure play, Fairytale Farm is divided into six main zones: Huff and Puff for adventure play; Enchanted Walk for our fairytale sensory experience; Alfie and Friends, where you can meet our amazing animals; Jack’s Yard, for a fairytale experience; and our brand new Wilderness Walk and Fairy Dell areas, with features being added all the time.
Animal Zone and Vistor Centre, Rodbaston, Drive Penkridge ST19 5PH
Based at South Staffordshire College's Rodbaston Campus, The Animal Zone is home to around 750 animals from meerkats to monkeys, rabbits to alpacas! The Zone is open weekends and school holidays from 10am to 4pm and has a host of exciting activities each day -these can include Animal Encounters, Meet the Keeper Sessions, Feeding and Tractor Trailer Rides. There is an outdoor picnic and play area and a tea room.
Redwing Horse Sanctuary, Warwickshire
Get up close and cuddly with friendly horses and donkeys, hear their stories and find out more about our work at our visitor centre in Warwickshire. So whether you're daft about donkeys, mad for mules or can't resist a cuddle with Shetlands and Shires, a visit to Redwings is a must. And don't forget, entry is FREE!
Trentham Monkey Forest, Stone Road, Stoke on Trent ST4 8AY
Take a walk on the wild side as you actually walk amongst 140 Barbary Macaques roaming free in 60 acres of beautiful English forest! There are guides on hand throughout the forest to talk to you about the Macaques and your own little "monkeys" can then let of some steam in the two adventure playgrounds. You can get refreshments at the Banana cafe or take advantage of the grassed picnic area.
All Things Wild Station Rd, Honeybourne, Evesham, Worcestershire WR11 7QZ
All Things Wild Nature Centre provides a fun, interactive and educational environment for everyone to get back to nature! An all-weather family attraction and allow people of all ages to enjoy the amazing things that nature can bring. From running bug hunting sessions to encouraging people to collect our chicken's eggs, All Things Wild offers a diverse range of activities that suit all ages. They aim to keep the animals in an environment that is as close to their natural habitat as possible.
Step through time in the Dino Barn and get up close to some pre-historic creatures. Meet the ancient life forms of the deep seas and then encounter the primeval dinosaurs from the early Triassic. As you explore the Jurassic period, you will come face to face with our giant Megalosaurus and then attempt to hold the stare of our T-rex.
Lower Drayton Farm, Lower Drayton Lane, Penkridge ST19 5RE
From farm animals to pets and wildlife, Lower Drayton Farm offers families the chance to learn all about the animals that call the farm home. You'll see lambs, rabbits, ponies, guinea pigs, pig, hens, goats and more in the fun farm zone, while during the farm trailer ride you'll see the farm's cows, alongside its more exotic residents like llamas, emus and rheas. Stroll around the woodland walk and nature trail and you might well meet the hedgehogs in snuffle wood readying for their release back into the wild, or see some of the beautiful wild bird species that call the farm home.
Northycote Farm and Country Park Underhill Lane, Bushbury, Wolverhampton WV10 7JF
This restored working farm is surrounded by 90 acres of mature woodland, fields and meadowland. Chickens, pigs, sheep and cattle live on Northycote Farm. The 400-year-old farmhouse is not always open to the public but the tearooms are.
Mary Arden's Farm - Station Road, Wilmcote, Warwickshire, CV37 9UN
A great day out for all the family! Step back in time and discover the sights, sounds and smells of a real working Tudor farm, as Shakespeare would have done when he was a boy visiting his mother's family home
Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens - Bradwell Grove, Burford, Oxfordshire, OX18 4JP
Set in over 160 acres of beautiful parklands the Park has an amazingly diverse collection of species many of which are endangered in the wild. Our dedicated and caring Keepers are passionate about the animals in their care and the opportunity to share their knowledge with the public.
Sandwell Park Farm, Salters Lane, West Bromwich. B71 4BG.
See pigs, rabbits, peacocks, ducks, geese and more. It's set in Sandwell Valley Country Park where there's an adventure playground and aerial ropes. There's also Forge Mill Farm (Forge Lane, West Bromwich, B71 3SZ) nearby which also has a children's play area and farm trail.
Wild Zoological Park, Halfpenny Green Vineyards, Bobbington DY7 5EP
The emphasis here is on education and conservation and staff are passionate about both. The animals and staff at WILD Zoological Park are there to conserve wildlife and teach the general public about all forms of wildlife, with the hope that through teaching and deeper understanding, there will be a stronger drive to help us conserve the World's wildlife. The setting is lovely and your little explorers can let their imagination run riot! The 'free bird flights' are a recent addition and fascinating to watch.
Attwell Farm Park near Alvechurch ( Redditch)
Delve deep into the traditional and new age farming world, a fantastic and educational way to enjoy a family, fun filled, day out. Your favourite farm animals are just waiting to say hello, from Aberdeen Angus Cattle to Alpacas, Sheep, Goats, Pigs, Chickens, Ducks and so much more. Your young aspiring farmers can also jump into some farming machinery and explore the controls.
National Forest Adventure Farm (NFAF), Tatenhill, Burton-on-Trent, DE13 9SJ
The NFAF is one of Staffordshire’s most popular visitor attractions, and always proves a hit among both young and old. Outdoor paddocks are home to alpacas, donkeys, cows, sheep and lambs, goats and chickens, which can all be fed by visitors; and indoor pens are home to pigs and piglets, rabbits and guinea pigs who love to sit on laps! Tractor rides, giant pillow trampolines, pedal karts, crazy golf and digger stations add to the outdoor fun, while a huge soft play centre with suitable activities for all ages and a large restaurant await you inside. NFAF also holds seasonal, themed activities for Easter, the Summer months, Halloween and Christmas.
Charnwood Forest Alpacas, Scamhazel Farm, Boundary, DE11 7BA
A trek with the Charnwood Forest Alpacas is an animal visit with a difference! The range of experiences allow visitors to trek along with the alpacas, taking you away from the hustle and bustle of busy life. You are partnered up with your alpaca trekking partner and shown how to lead your new friend safely across the fields. Entry to the site is free (booking essential for treks) and there is a café and shop stocking alpaca-related goodies.
Twycross Zoo, Norton-Juxta-Twycross, Atherstone, CV9 3PX
Twycross Zoo is one of the Midlands’ key attractions, with the largest collection of apes and monkeys in the Western world! Located just 14 minutes’ drive from Ashby and 19 minutes’ drive from Nuneaton, the zoo is home to more than 500 animals of 125 species that live in outdoor habitats across the site’s 100-acre wide open-air space. Walk through the Humboldt penguin habitat, watch the gibbons swinging from tree to tree in the forest or catch a glimpse of the critically endangered Sumatran tigers.
At Hoar Park Children’s Farm, not only can you see a wide variety of Children’s Pets such as Rabbits and Guinea Pigs, there is also a large selection of various breeds of Poultry, Pygmy Goats, Ducks and Geese, Deer, Sheep and a Kuné Kuné Pig. The Pygmy Goat kids are a hit with the children, as are the newly hatched chickens and ducklings. The Children’s Farm also has a gift shop and supplies animals and all pet requisites. The latest addition to the shop is everything for the horse/pony keeper with a wide range of foods and sundries now in stock. The Children’s Farm is open 7 days from 10am.
Which is your family's favourite animal park? Tell us here.