A visit to the zoo, an aquarium or other animal attraction when in Devon is a great way to spend the day as a family. Animal attractions are good in all weather, as there are places to go indoors should you need to. There are plenty of attractions for animal and wildlife enthusiasts nearby our North Devon holiday cottages – read on to find out which ones to check out when visiting with your family.
The BIG SheepThe BIG Sheep in Abbotsham, Bideford is one of North Devon’s most popular family attractions and includes sheep racing, rides and roller coasters and a selection of indoor and outdoor play to entertain you. The BIG Sheep is located within 40 acres of parkland and welcomes thousands of visitors each year and is the perfect place to spend a day, rain or shine. There is the largest rollercoaster in Devon, animal shows throughout the day such as sheep and duck trails, sheep shearing and lamb feeding, with the highlight being the sheep racing!For outdoor play there is jumping pillows, the Splash Zones, boats and lots of exciting rides.
There is plenty of activities for younger children to do too, and Ewetopia is an indoor play zone with slides, mazes and climbing areas to conquer. Visitors who want to see animals should head to the animal barn where there are baby farm animals all year round, such as puppies, lambs, chicks, rabbits and pigs.Exmoor ZooHead over to Exmoor for a unique zoo experience. There are rare and unusual animals to discover such as binturong and tayra along with family favourites such as meerkats, squirrel monkeys, big cats and dogs! Throughout the day you can enjoy encounter sessions such as wallaby feeding, cheetah talk and feed and meeting some reptiles. The zoo is set in a beautiful North Devon valley, and in summer the paths are lined with flowers and trees which provides a lovely natural feel to the zoo.A highlight of Exmoor Zoo is the Exmoor Beast, the only pair of black leopards in the UK, with a talk at 4pm telling you about the magnificent big cat and tales of the notorious Exmoor Beast – you decide if the stories are true or not! Other animals to see include martens, monkeys and apes, birds and other cats. The zoo also has a café for lunchtime refreshments.
Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park The Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park is home to some endangered animals and also prehistoric dinosaurs. Kids will love visiting the dinosaur park to see the animatronic dinosaurs, including a scary Tyrannosaurus Rex, Triceratops, Spinosaurus and huge Brachiosaurus. In addition to the animatronics, there are also some genuine dinosaur eggs to look at too.The wildlife park is set within 28 acres of North Devon countryside with views of the area; you can wander round sub-tropical gardens and meet the many animals along the way. There are penguins, parrots, wallabies, monkeys and apes, wolves, sea lions and big cat lions too. The Sea Lion Show is a highlight of the day, and the Animal Antics Encounter is a daily activity where children can meet the small residents up close. You can also book animal experiences such as feeding the lions, meeting the sea lions or be a keeper for the day.
Borough Farm near Woolacombe is the place to go for farm animals. Owner David Kennard has hosted sheepdog and falconry shows for many years, showcasing the talents of the sheepdogs. The farm cares for 600 sheep and 50 cattle, and there are farmyard shows every Tuesday on the farm, featuring a host of farm animals from sheep to pigs and ducks. Exciting falconry displays take place on Wednesdays, performed by falconer Martin Simkins. There are falcons, an Eagle owl and Little owl to entertain you.Though the sheepdog displays in summer are always fun to watch, if you want to see what sheepdogs can do, then you can join a shepherding experience on Morte Point. Taking place on Thursday evenings, David takes small groups for a two-hour tour to experience shepherding. You can learn about the shepherding life, the sheep and the training of the Borough Farm sheepdogs. For more information, head to the Borough Farm website.
The Ilfracombe Aquarium located by Ilfracombe Harbour is the ideal place to go if the weather isn’t great one morning or afternoon. An educational attraction, it gives visitors the chance to learn about the sea life found along the North Devon coastline. The aquarium houses a collection of local wildlife in recreated habitats. Exhibits give you the chance to learn about the whole North Devon area, from rock pools, Lundy Island’s marine reserve and much more.For children, there are quizzes to try, an aquatically themed gift shop and small café for refreshments. Some of the interesting creatures to discover at the aquarium include cuttlefish, dragonets, lesser octopus, starfish, anemones, crabs, sharks and much more. The aquarium is open from 10am daily.