Ask Baby D what his favorite animal is, and without hesitation, he would answer "Penguin". Hence, we thought it would be nice to visit Edinburgh Zoo during our Scotland trip
(last year) as they have a fantastic area in the zoo dedicated to penguins. They also have giant pandas in Edinburgh Zoo which Baby C was very excited to see.
We decided to take the train from Aberdeen to Edinburgh, as it would be a fun experience for the kids. We parked our rental car at Union Square (College St Car Park, opened 24 hours) for £15 a day. We bought our train tickets online via Scotrail and paid £48.80 for return tickets for 2 adults and 2 children. We got the Kids Go Free deal which basically meant we only had to pay for the adult tickets :)
Enjoyed the scenic view on our train ride. It is a 2 hr 20 min train ride from Aberdeen to Edinburgh.
We disembarked at Haymarket, and then took the bus to the zoo. The train station is about 5 mins away from the zoo. The buses run frequently, and the services you can take are Lothian Buses 12, 26 and, 31 which will stop right in front of the zoo.
We bought our zoo tickets in advance from their website and got the family ticket (2 adults 2 children) - can't remember how much we paid at that time but the price is now £57.30. The ticket price includes a voluntary 10% donation to their various conservation projects.
When buying your ticket, you can also pre-book your time slots to see the giant pandas. Unfortunately for us, during our visit, Tian Tian, the female panda was thought to be potentially pregnant and hence the pandas never made an appearance. Needless to say, Baby C was so disappointed, however I made it up to her by bringing her to see the giant pandas in KL.
The zoo is open daily from 9am to 6pm from April to September, 9am to 5pm in October & March, and 9am to 4.30pm from November to February. Here are a list of daily talks available at the zoo.
The first animals we encountered here were the meerkats.
During our visit, we found that the weather is ever changing, so it is best to come dressed in layers, which you put or take off depending on the temperature. Not sure if we were unlucky or if the weather was too hot, but most of the animals decided not to make an appearance that day.
East African crowned crane - national bird of Uganda
The best part of Edinburgh Zoo is definitely Penguin Rocks. It houses Europe's largest outdoor penguin pool at 65 metres long and 3.5 metres deep. At the penguin enclosure, you can find various species of penguins, including Gentoo Penguins, King Penguins, Rockhopper and more. It was a dream come true for Baby D ;) We lost count of how many hours we spent here admiring the penguins, watching them swim, and waddle around.
Watch this video of our kids meeting the Penguins for the first time :)
We took countless photographs to remember this day by :)
It was a beautiful summer's day
Took this video so my children can look back to these sweet memories :)
There is also a daily Penguin Parade at 2.15pm, however this is entirely voluntary (ie if the penguins decide they do not want to come out of the enclosure for the parade it will be cancelled). It can get very busy so it is best to come 15-30 minutes beforehand to secure a good seat / standing position.
It looked like the penguin parade was going to be cancelled on our visit, but luckily one of them walked out the enclosure, followed by 3 more of his friends :)
Southern Cassowary - they have powerful legs and long feet with 3 toes and can be potentially dangerous, as they will kick anyone who they see as a threat
It was a hot day so we stopped for some Mackie's ice cream :)
Another place we enjoyed was the Koala Territory. Hard to get a good photo though cos the koala kept showing us his bum bum. :P I guess you can say he's camera shy.
We also enjoyed seeing the zebras at the Africa's Plains, as well as the beautiful view of Edinburgh city. You can also enjoy a picnic up at Hilltop Viewpoint.
The view from Africa's Plains
Grevy's Zebras have a sleek coat, patterned with black and white vertical stripes that are much narrower than those of the plains zebra. The horizontal stripes on the legs travel all the way down to the hooves, and the tall, upright mane is also striped in a pattern that continues on from the neck. They also have a wide black stripe along their back which is very distinctive and is bordered by white on the rump.
Sumatran tiger - the smallest of all tiger subspecies, and its stripes are narrower than those of other tigers. It also has a distinctive bearded and maned appearance, especially the males.
Chilean Flamingo - It was interesting to learn that flamingos are fed a diet of pellets which have been specially formulated with dietary colours to ensure they have their natural pink colour and stay ‘in the pink’. The pellets also float in water and gradually sink, providing the birds with opportunities to use all their natural foraging behaviours.
Overall, a really fun day out for the kids. Glorious weather plus the chance to see penguins in real life definitely made our trip a memorable one.
Before our train journey back to Aberdeen, we got some mini macarons from Marks and Spencers ;)
Note: Edinburgh Zoo is located on Corstorphine Hill, and some of the paths around the park involve steep slopes, so please bring suitable footwear.
Tip: If you plan to go shopping/sightseeing after the zoo,it would be better to take the train to Waverley, as it is located closer to the attractions. However, it is located slightly further away from the zoo (15 mins by road).
Opening times: 9am to 6pm from April to September, 9am to 5pm in October & March, and 9am to 4.30pm from November to February.
Price: For ticket prices, see here.
Location: Edinburgh Zoo, 134 Corstorphine Road, Edinburgh EH12 6TS, Scotland, United Kingdom.
Tel: + 44 (0) 131 334 9171
GPS Coordinates: 55.942087, -3.269040
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