Exmoor Zoo Review – An Unimpressive Day Out with the Baby

Whilst we were on a little holiday to Lynton in Exmoor, we were looking for things to do, and thought we’d pay a visit to one of the local attractions: Exmoor Zoo. So this is, as you might expect, a little review of our short time at the zoo.

I’ll be honest, before arriving at Exmoor Zoo, we didn’t really have any idea of what to expect. When we go away, we tend to just go with the flow. So this little ‘day out’ wasn’t exactly planned and more of a random endeavour. But it didn’t take us long to realise that our time could’ve been far better spent doing something else.

Just a quick selfie of the three of us at Exmoor Zoo

Exmoor Zoo and Zoos In General

I’ll be honest. I don’t know where I stand when it comes to zoos. I know it’s a complicated issue, and I don’t think you can just say “animals shouldn’t be kept in cages” as sometimes I know it’s a necessity to help the survival of the species. But sometimes, it does feel wrong. Not so much with prey animals. I’m not going to argue that a giraffe isn’t loving the idea of having no lions knocking about. But Exmoor Zoo, and most zoos in general, have a lot more than prey animals on display.

I also don’t feel that I would mind as much if they had a lot more space. Places like West Midlands Safari Park have an open feel to it. But Exmoor Zoo felt tight, like they were trying to maximise the space available by getting as many animals in as they realistically could.

The Animals at Exmoor Zoo

The enclosures felt a little small for some of the animals, especially the larger animals like the cheetahs. They all seemed muddy – might be weather related with that one – and each enclosure felt the same as the next with nothing of interest that ever stood out. Seeing an animal like a wolf just tucked up in a small space just didn’t feel right. They’re pack animals that like to hunt over miles and miles, they’re not animals that merely want an easy feed and nothing else to do.

The same can be said for their main attraction, the black leopards. Or as they like to call them, the Exmoor Beast:

One of the Black Leopards at Exmoor Zoo

Having ‘Dogs’ at Exmoor Zoo

Then we stumbled upon an enclosure that essentially contained a few dogs. They weren’t dogs, of course. At least not in the domesticated sense that we have at home. They were actually New Guinea Singing Dogs. But still. I know I might be being silly with this, but I really felt a little uncomfortable seeing a dog in a zoo – even if it was some sort of wild one. I know it’s a critically endangered species, and they need protecting. But my gut reaction just didn’t like it.

And the worst part is they were pacing around and occasionally giving the odd whimper. As a massive lover of dogs – and someone who lets the dogs sleep in the bed – I basically just wanted to jump in there and give the damn thing a cuddle.

This is one of the New Guinea Singing Dogs in Exmoor Zoo
Big corgi, or a New Guinea Singing Dog?

Summing up the Day Out

In the end, it didn’t really take us very long to make our way around Exmoor Zoo. I’ll admit that we didn’t exactly stop and read each bit of information outside the enclosures, and nor do we stop and watch any of the animals talks. It doesn’t help that Isabelle isn’t exactly of an age where she wants to know what a capybara is. So stopping to tell her about them isn’t something we’re going to do. But that’s totally on us. I wouldn’t criticise a place for not having more things to do for babies when it’s not really a place for them. But, with that said, this is a family attraction, and as such should cater for a larger range of family members.

Our baby in the baby carrier around Exmoor Zoo

All in all, I give Exmoor Zoo a 4/10. I will admit that perhaps we visited on an off day. Maybe the weather had effected the conditions and made the whole place look a little bit unkempt. I’ll also admit that taking a 9 month old to a zoo is hardly setting yourself up for an interactive day. But still, we’ve been to other zoos with Isabelle and have managed to have a great time. Also, at £11 a ticket for adults – £8 for children – it was a little bit overpriced for how long we spent there.

Either way, I think we’ll give this a miss the next time we find ourselves in the Exmoor area, but if this is something that you fancy giving a go, then you can visit their website and have a look for yourself.


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Exmoor Zoo
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I’m a 26 year old married father of one. I started blogging after suffering postnatal depression when Isabelle was born. These days I talk about much more than just that.

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