13 zoos in Devon to visit (plus other animal encounters)

Are you searching for zoos in Devon? 

Whether you’re living in the county and looking for a new activity to enjoy, or are on holiday, Devon’s zoos have something to offer everyone. 

In fact, there’s a huge variety of animal attractions in this part of the UK – largely thanks to its sizable tourist industry. 

Whether you (and your little ones!) want to see exotic creatures or farm animals, you’ll find them in one of these zoos in Devon! 

I’ve also included some of the best farms with animals in Devon and the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth (the UK’s largest).

Let’s take a look at the best of them! 

Best zoos in Devon: a full list

Whether you’re looking for alpacas or zebra, this list of local zoos has something for everyone! 

1. Exmoor Zoo, Near Barnstaple, North Devon

A group of ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta)

Exmoor Zoo is one of the best kid-friendly attractions in Devon. 

Located near Barnstaple the north of the county, this award-winning zoo park boasts a mixture of wildlife and engaging hands-on experiences.

As you stroll through the zoo, you’ll encounter a variety of animals, ranging from the exotic to local wildlife. 

In fact, Exmoor Zoo is home to over 175 species of animals, from cheetahs and lemurs to red pandas and unique invertebrates.

Activities at the zoo run every half hour throughout the day and include animal encounters, talks and demonstrations. 

It’s a great place to learn about conservation – Exmoor Zoo is actively involved in international research and conservation projects, contributing to the protection of numerous threatened species.

The zoo is also particularly proud of its strong local community ties, offering educational programs for schools, groups, and individuals of all ages.

Check out tickets and prices here. 

2. Paignton Zoo, Paignton, South Devon

Orang Utan at Paignton Zoo

Planning a trip to South Devon? Don’t miss Paignton Zoo, especially if you’re with kids! 

As one of the South West’s most exciting visitor attractions, this zoo is a great day out for the whole family. 

Located within spacious and beautiful 80-acre grounds, at Paignton Zoo you’ll find over 2,000 animals.

From the impressive gorillas and orangutans to the majestic giraffes and tigers, it’s no surprise that the zoo is adored by animal lovers. 

Smaller favourites, such as red pandas, meerkats, and even giant tortoises, are also residents here. 

To make your day engaging and educational, Paignton Zoo offers numerous activities and interactive experiences for visitors of all ages.

During your visit, the zoo’s distinct weather patterns and climate-controlled habitats allow the animals to thrive in an environment similar to their natural habitats.

A trip to Paignton Zoo is perfect for both sunny and rainy days, with indoor enclosures and covered walkways providing shelter from the elements.

Visiting Paignton Zoo is not only an excellent day out but also an opportunity to support the zoo’s conservation and education efforts.

To make the most of your experience, you can choose from a variety of membership options for individuals, families and groups.

3. Dartmoor Zoo, Sparkwell, South Devon

Visit the Dartmoor Zoo near Plymouth is a fantastic way to explore the diverse attractions of South Devon.

Set amongst 33 acres of woodland on the borders of the picturesque Dartmoor National Park, the Zoo is an immersive and educational experience for all ages.

Here, you can encounter a wide variety of animals, ranging from lions and tigers to smaller creatures like meerkats and otters.

At the zoo, you’ll not only observe these fascinating creatures but also have the opportunity to learn about their natural habitats, behaviour, and conservation efforts.

The animal encounters  at Dartmoor Zoo provide you with a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience to get closer to the incredible animal kingdom.

If the name Dartmoor Zoo rings a bell, it might be because of its connections to the popular book/movie, We Bought a Zoo.

The Zoo’s establishment began in the 1960s as a private exotic animal collection, which later fell into disrepair before being transformed into a  zoo; nowadays it’s a registered charity. 

Just a 15-minute drive from Plymouth, the Zoo is easily accessible for visitors and offers ample parking facilities.

Tickets and pricing can be found here.

I’d also recommend exploring some of magical Dartmoor while you’re here – check out my list of the best things to do here!

4. Shaldon Zoo, Near Teignmouth, South Devon

At Shaldon Zoo, situated in the attractive coastal village of Shaldon in South Devon, you can experience a unique encounter with all of your favourite animals! 

This small zoo is home to some of the rarest and most endangered animals in the world; the dedicated team at Shaldon Wildlife Trust is focused on making a big difference in conservation efforts.

As you explore the zoo’s tranquil woodland garden, spanning one acre, you will discover a diverse range of animals, including birds, mammals, and reptiles, all carefully looked after in a relaxing environment.

Making your way through the peaceful, leafy surroundings, you may spot Lemurs, a variety of Tamarin monkeys, or the striking Javan green magpie.

The zoo’s mission is to help preserve these endangered species and contribute to the long-term survival of the animals.

You can support the animals at Shaldon Zoo by adopting an animal or with a generous donation, ensuring the zoo keeps thriving. 

Check out my full list of things to do in Teignmouth and Shaldon.

5. Wildwood Escot, Ottery St Mary, East Devon

Wildwood Escot is a fantastic wildlife park situated in East Devon, offering both indoor and outdoor adventures for the entire family.

As you explore the 45-acre park, you’ll encounter a variety of animals native to the UK, including the iconic red squirrel.

The park serves a dual purpose: it’s a fun day out to learn about wildlife while also acting as a conservation centre for threatened and locally extinct species.

Don’t worry if the weather’s not so kind while you’re here – this attraction has plenty to offer, come rain or shine.

If it’s a rainy day in East Devon, take advantage of the park’s indoor activities such as the soft play area.

On sunnier days, venture outdoors and discover the impressive range of play equipment and attractions, like the maze and traversing walls.

Aside from the fantastic wildlife, the parks’ many offerings include outdoor adventure play, a heart-stopping drop-slide, and an exhilarating 40-metre zip line.

The park is conveniently located just 15 minutes east of Exeter, between Ottery St Mary and Honiton.

Take the Fairmile turn-off and follow the brown tourist signs for Escot Park.

6. Quince Honey Farm, South Molton, North Devon

If you’re looking for a unique and enjoyable family attraction in North Devon, Quince Honey Farm in South Molton is ideal!

As a working honey farm, it offers various activities not just for bee enthusiasts but also for those who love farm animals, picturesque landscapes, and interactive learning experiences.

At Quince Honey Farm, you’ll find a range of attractions suitable for all ages.

Besides the honeybees, you can also interact with farm animals such as sheep and rabbits.

The farm offers guided tours, so you can learn more about beekeeping, honey production, and animal care.

Visiting Quince Honey Farm, you’re sure to be impressed with their commitment to sustainability and ethical practices.

They have won regional awards, including a GOLD in the South West Tourism Innovation Award and a BRONZE in the Large Visitor Attractions of the Year at the Devon Tourism Awards 2020.

7. Combe Martin Wildlife & Dinosaur Park, Ilfracombe, North Devon

If you’re planning a family day out to explore the attractions in North Devon, then Combe Martin Wildlife & Dinosaur Park should be on your list.

Situated in a beautiful valley within the North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this wildlife and dinosaur park offers an exciting and educational experience for visitors of all ages.

At the park, you can marvel at the impressive collection of wildlife that ranges from exotic to indigenous animals.

Some of the highlights include African Lions, Grey & Hudson Bay Wolves, Sea Lions, Primates, and Penguins. 

The park is home to over 28 acres of spectacular gardens.

One of the key attractions of Combe Martin Wildlife & Dinosaur Park is the life-sized animatronic dinosaurs. You and your family can walk through realistic exhibits and learn fascinating facts about these prehistoric creatures. There’s also a gigantic Dinosaurus Playzone where children can have dino-mite fun and let off some steam!

Fancy learning something? There are plenty of educational talks at Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park, full of fun facts about the animals you’ve seen! 

8. Woolley Animals, Winkleigh, North Devon

If you’re looking for a unique and charming animal encounter in North Devon, Woolley Animals in Winkleigh is the perfect place!

This farm park is home to animals such as alpacas, sheep, goats, donkeys, and miniature ponies.

It offers visitors a chance to experience the beauty of rural Devon while getting up close and personal with its lovely residents.

At Woolley Animals, you can also participate in alpaca walking.

This unforgettable activity lets you lead an adorable alpaca around the beautiful Devon countryside, providing an excellent opportunity to engage with these gentle creatures.

The farm also hosts shearing, feeding, and trekking experiences with Swiss Valais Blacknose sheep, known for their teddy bear-like appearance.

Some of the magnificent animals you can expect to encounter at Woolley Animals include:

  • Alpacas: Soft and friendly, alpacas are originally from South America, and now thrive on the lush Devon pastures.
  • Valais Blacknose Sheep: Famous for their distinctive appearance, these adorable sheep are a delightful addition to the farm.
  • Goats: Energetic and inquisitive, goats are always entertaining to watch as they explore the farm.
  • Donkeys: Donkeys are known for their gentle nature, and you’ll enjoy interacting with these sweet creatures during your visit.
  • Miniature Ponies: These little ponies are a rare sight and offer a truly heartwarming experience.

If you’re in the area and wish to experience Woolley Animals, the farm park is open during weekends and school holidays. 

9. Pennywell Farm, Buckfastleigh, South Devon

Pennywell Farm in Buckfastleigh, South Devon, is one of the county’s most famous animal attractions.

You’ll find an assortment of farm animals at Pennywell, including sheep, goats and rabbits.

The farm is committed to providing interaction and hands-on experiences with its friendly animals, making it a perfect destination for children. The farm also boasts incredible views of the South Devon countryside.

It’s most famous for its pig racing (more on that here!), and prides itself on being an exceptional attraction in South Devon,

10. Totnes Rare Breeds Farm, Totnes, South Devon

At Totnes Rare Breeds Farm in South Devon, you can find a wide variety of farm animals, including sheep, goats, and rabbits, all taken care of in a family-run attraction.

Totnes Rare Breeds Farm focuses on the conservation of rare and endangered breeds of domestic farm animals.

In addition to meeting the animals, you can learn about the various sanctuaries and conservation efforts in place to protect these rare breeds.

While exploring the farm, make sure to take advantage of the many opportunities to feed and interact with the animals, such as the greedy goats!

Check out my full list of Totnes attractions!

11. Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary 

A visit to the Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth, UK

The Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary, situated in the picturesque landscape of East Devon, is a heartwarming retreat dedicated to the care and protection of donkeys.

This sanctuary is a serene environment where visitors can interact with these gentle creatures, each with its own unique story of rescue and rehabilitation.

The sanctuary is over 50 years old and has adopted hundreds of donkeys, many of whom were used for riding, throughout its history.

It’s a fantastic animal attraction in Devon to visit if you’re usually a bit wary of zoos.

12. World of Country Life

The World of Country Life in Exmouth, Devon, is a vibrant family attraction that brings the charm of rural living to life!

This park is a smorgasbord of interactive experiences, from petting farms to vintage vehicle exhibits; there’s enough for a full day out here. 

Visitors can relish the chance to get up close with a variety of farm animals, witness fascinating bird of prey displays, and explore a museum filled with nostalgic memorabilia. 

The park also features adventure playgrounds, ensuring fun for all ages.

The World of Country Life is a perfect destination for those seeking a day filled with education, entertainment, and a glimpse into country life’s rich heritage.

13. National Marine Aquarium

The National Marine Aquarium

The National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, Devon – the UK’s largest aquarium – is an immersive journey into the underwater world.

This facility is dedicated to marine conservation, research, and education, with a stunning array of marine life from local shores to tropical seas.

As visitors wander through its vast exhibits, they encounter awe-inspiring sights, from the bustling coral reefs to the tranquil beauty of the Great Barrier Reef tank.

Interactive displays and educational talks enhance the experience, making it not only visual but also enlightening!

The aquarium’s commitment to preserving marine ecosystems extends beyond its walls, engaging visitors in the global effort to protect our oceans.

Are you ready to see all these animals in Devon?

If you’re checking out the best things to do in Devon, these loveable animal attractions are certainly near the top of the list!

Don’t forget to take a look at my other Devon posts for more tips on visiting my home county!

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