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Paignton Zoo


A favourite of ours for many years!

Founded in 1923, Paignton Zoo was established with a mission centred on conservation, scientific research, and education, principles championed by its founder, Herbert Whitley. Whitley envisioned the zoo as a place of learning beyond mere recreation. Following his death in 1955, the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust was established to continue his legacy.

Under the guidance of his successor, Philip Michelmore, the zoo played a pivotal role in forming the modern zoo movement. This included establishing the Zoo Federation, now known as the British & Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums. This contributed to creating similar organizations at the European and global levels, fostering international cooperation among zoos.

The zoo has undergone several name changes, reflecting its evolution from Torbay Zoological Gardens to its current designation as Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, named in 1996 to signal a significant redevelopment funded by the European Regional Development Fund and land sales, and this period marked a transformation into a modern zoo by introducing new facilities and habitat-themed areas.

In the early 21st century, the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust expanded its influence by acquiring Newquay Zoo and establishing Living Coasts and other notable exhibits, leading to record visitor numbers. In 2019, the Trust was renamed Wild Planet Trust to represent its contemporary and inclusive approach better.

Paignton Zoo has committed to sustainable business practices, recognizing the impact of such practices on environmental conservation and animal habitats. This commitment includes efforts to reduce water and energy consumption, driven by a continuous aspiration to minimize environmental impacts.

Reptile Paignton Zoo.jpg
Reptile Paignton Zoo.jpg

What to see

Gone are the days of animals being caged up in small cages. As a conservation and respected zoo, this is about animals first and foremost. A lot more space is allocated to those who need it: lions, tigers, great apes such as gorillas and orangutans, giraffes, kangaroos, cranes and "bills" and the islands with gibbons are perfect examples. There is no end of creatures to see, from Rhinos (with their horns) to the reptile house and the amazingly pink flamingos.

The red pandas, the ostriches, and even the wolves (often sleeping in the daytime) are fantastic. Check out the Paignton Zoo website for up-to-date information and the full list of animals and activities.


Rhino Paignton Zoo.jpg

What to do

We know many families, both local and visitors, come to Paignton Zoo as a day out and keeping children occupied is important.


So the Zoo also offers a variety of outdoor play areas where young visitors can emulate the gibbons and kangaroos, situated near picnic spots and snack facilities for convenient family relaxation.


The Clennon Gorge Nature Trail invites guests to a serene woodland experience suitable for a leisurely exploration of native wildlife.

The zoo also features Jungle Fun, an indoor soft play area centrally located and organized into zones for infants to ten-year-olds. Adjacent to essential amenities and a catering kiosk, Jungle Fun offers free admission for members, while non-members are charged a nominal fee.

Another highlight is the wobbly bridge in Lemur Wood, a thrilling adventure suitable for all ages that allows guests to view lemurs from an elevated perspective, with a one-way system to ensure safety.

Check out the Paignton Zoo website for up-to-date information and the full list of animals and activities.


Rhino Paignton Zoo.jpg
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