Edinburgh Zoo (previously known as the Scottish National Zoological Park) is an 82-acre, not-for-profit zoological park. Situated on the slopes of Corstorphine Hill in Edinburgh, it's the second most popular fee-charging attraction in all of Scotland, with over 600,000 visitors every year.
Two of Edinburgh Zoo’s most popular and famous residents are the giant pandas: Yang Guang and Tian Tian. A purpose-built enclosure was constructed for them in the hope that these beautiful and shy animals might breed while on their sabbatical in Edinburgh. They are the only pandas exhibited anywhere in the UK, so being able to see them up close is a rare treat.
Penguin Rock is also a great favorite with guests, in particular children. The penguin enclosure is the largest of its kind in Europe and features a 65-meter pool, complete with a spectacular waterfall and a number of enhanced viewing areas to ensure that visitors get a close look at these playful and graceful birds.
Penguin parade at Edinburgh Zoo — Photo courtesy of Lisa Jarvis
When the first three penguins arrived in Edinburgh in 1914, it was the first time that they had been seen outside Antarctica. Edinburgh Zoo was also the location of the first successful hatching of a king penguin chick in captivity. When several birds escaped their enclosure and wandered the zoo, it was so popular with visitors that a daily penguin parade became a much-loved tradition.
The Budongo Trail is the world’s most innovative and interactive chimpanzee enclosure. It's a massive indoor and outdoor habitat that houses up to 40 chimps and features a wide variety of environments to offer fun, exercise and stimulation to its residents, while giving guests a fascinating glimpse into their complex social world.
Edinburgh Zoo is currently the only place in the United Kingdom where you can see koalas, too. As well as being home to a breeding pair and a lovely baby koala, the zoo is also a retirement home for koalas from all over Europe. Viewing areas are reached by a path through a lush eucalyptus forest with pieces of indigenous art dotted around.
As if all of this was not enough, visitors can also view flamingos, lemurs, meercats, golden cats, pelicans, zebra, jaguar, hippos, tigers, wildcats – and many, many more interesting creatures.
Before the foundation of the zoo, the site was a nursery owned by the renowned horticulturalist Thomas Blaikie, and his mark can still be seen in the glorious gardens at the site. The gardens consist of one of the most diverse tree collections in the Lothians, including a crop of banana trees that are much appreciated by the zoo’s primates.
The jungle food court features a range of fast food from traditional fish and chips to pizzas and burgers. There is also a snack bar serving fresh sandwiches, paninis, baguettes and a selection of cakes and ice cream. Visitors can also pick up delightful cuddly toys, informative and educational books and a whole host of other souvenirs from the zoo's gift shop.