Posted on: Tuesday 1st August 2023
If you’re looking for an entertaining and educational day out for the family, little beats a day out to the zoo! For almost 200 hundred years, since the first zoo opened in the UK in 1828, zoos have been a fantastic day out for people of all ages, whether you want to see the majesty of the large cats, get cosy with the cute critters, or visit the reptiles or creepy-crawlies!
Zoos are also invested in educating their visitors all about the natural world, conservation, and the important research conducted to help save endangered species, which is ideal for any little David Attenboroughs you have in your household.
Blackpool Zoo has been a popular destination for families in the North West for over 50 years, ensuring that visitors are entertained, educated, and informed all about the natural world, and is home to more than 1,500 exotic animals from all around the world, living in specially designed habitats spanning 37 acres of spacious parkland and lakes.
Blackpool Zoo has also recently welcomed its first critically endangered Bornean orangutan baby in more than two decades, following the birth of the adorable baby ape by first-time mother Jingga on 14 June this year.
Visitors can now visit the infant orangutan, which has been confirmed as male, now that the orangutan house has reopened following a short period of closure to allow the mother and child to bond.
Thirteen-year-old Jingga first came to Blackpool Zoo in 2017 from Barcelona Zoo and was joined in 2022 by the infant’s father Kawan, also 13 years old, who came from Apenheul Zoo in the Netherlands. Kawan soon became very popular with the other female orangutans at Blackpool Zoo, including Blackpool-born Cherie and Summer.
The addition of Kawan was an important milestone for the zoo and conservation of the great apes, as the Bornean orangutans are in imminent danger of becoming extinct in the wild, and Blackpool Zoo’s group of orangutans - known as a ‘buffoonery’ - are part of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP).
Darren Webster, the director of Blackpool Zoo, said, “The arrival of this very special baby is wonderful news, not just for us here at Blackpool Zoo, but for the species too.”
Darren explained that one of the Zoo’s resident female apes, Summer, was the last baby orangutan to be born in Blackpool, and they have been working hard to create a breeding group of orangutans to help safeguard the future of the species.
“Kawan's arrival marked the beginning of a new start after our previous male, Ramon, moved to a group in Germany that was more suited to him for breeding,” said Darren, adding that Ramon has settled well into his new family and has now also become a father, and everyone is delighted that the move has been a success for all!
Kawan was specially selected to form part of the breeding group at Blackpool Zoo after extensive talks with the experts at the EEP, as well as with specialist keepers from around the world.
The Bornean orangutan species has been classed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which means that this species now faces an ‘extremely high’ risk of extinction in the wild.
This now makes the EEP breeding programmes very important, and Blackpool Zoo is hoping that this is now the start of a new generation of the beautiful great apes in the UK.
But if you’re planning a visit to see the orangutans and hoping to get a glimpse of the new addition at Orangutan Outlook, their specially designed habitat, then make sure you pop next door to Gorilla Mountain to visit the only family of gorillas in the North of England - Bukavu (the silverback), Miliki, Njema, and youngsters Meisie, Moanda and Makari.
The Pride Of Blackpool
Of course, there’s much more to explore and see at Blackpool Zoo, including the new and improved, state-of-the-art lion enclosure, which recently opened to the public.
The new facility caters for the specific needs of the big cats who live there, including Khari the African Lion and Alyona the Amur Tiger, and has more indoor and outdoor spaces for these magnificent felines to prowl, as well as more viewing areas for visitors to marvel at the pride of Blackpool!
Pack Your Trunks!
The elephants are always a crowd-pleaser at the zoo, and you can see these mammoth magnificent beasts in their specially designed habitat, Project Elephant Base Camp, which opened in 2018.
The habitat, designed to meet the particular needs of the endangered Asian elephants, features state-of-the-art equipment and facilities and is now home to a herd of six elephants - Kate, Tara, Minbu, Noorjahan, Esha, and breeding male Emmett, all of whom are thriving in Project Elephant Base Camp, which also includes the largest indoor area in the UK.
If it’s the cute creatures you want to see, visiting Lemur Wood is a must! It is the UK’s first walk-through zoo enclosure, where you can come face-to-face with the stars of Madagascar, both the island and the Dreamworks film, and watch them jump across the walkways or see them lazing around and enjoying the sunshine.
The Lemurs are always popular with younger visitors, and there are three species of lemur in the habitat - ring-tailed (the most recognisable of all lemurs), red-ruffed and red-fronted lemurs - as well as a lake full of flamingos, ducks, and rare geese.
Dinosaurs are often very popular with kids, and while they might be long extinct, you can still come face-to-face with the fearsome tyrannosaurus rex, pterodactyls, and many more terrifying prehistoric creatures on the Dinosaur Safari, which takes visitors back in time through four ages of prehistoric natural life, with sound effects, and thousands of living plants and trees to bring the safari to life!
Splash With The Sea Lions
Active Oceans is Blackpool Zoo’s sea lion pool, the largest in the UK, which features seating for 400 people, and a penguin pool with an underwater viewing section.
You can see the sea lions show off their natural skills and behaviours twice a day, all explained by a member of the Zoo’s education team. It’s always a popular show, so make sure you get there early to grab a seat and be amazed by the intelligent, hilarious sea lions!
The comical Magellanic penguins - the only ones of their species in the UK - are also a popular draw at Blackpool Zoo, as people flock to see them zooming through the water like torpedoes, and coming right up to the glass window to see the children.
Interactive Animal Adventures
There’s always a packed programme of fascinating talks, feeds, and displays on offer at Blackpool Zoo, as well as a series of interactive walk-through exhibits such as Lemur Wood or Rainbow Landings where you can get closer to the animals you love and make memories of a family day out that you’ll treasure forever!
Blackpool Zoo is a proud member of The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) charity, which is a professional body representing the best zoos and aquariums in the UK and Ireland. Being a member of BIAZA demonstrates the zoo's dedication to conserving the natural world through research, conservation and education while inspiring its visitors to do the same.
There’s even more to see and do at Blackpool Zoo! For more information and tickets, visit https://www.blackpoolzoo.org.uk/
Why not round off your visit to the zoo with a walk along the Promenade, and pop into Coral Island for fun and games for the whole family, and, of course, Kids Eat Free all day every day at our participating restaurants, the biggest and best Prize Shop in Blackpool, traditional seaside amusements and the latest video arcade games!