ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is one of Europe’s largest wildlife conservation parks.
Set in 600 acres of the beautiful Chiltern Hills, Whipsnade Zoo is one of the two Zoo managed by Zoological Society of London, the other being London Zoo.
It is home to more than 3,600 animals and was earlier known as the Whipsnade Wild Animal Park.
In this article, we explain everything you must know before visiting the Whipsnade Zoo.
1. How to reach
2. Opening times
3. Safari bus
4. Tour duration
5. Best time to visit
6. Ticket discount
7. Whipsnade Zoo tickets
8. Keeper talks
9. Whipsnade Zoo map
11. Whipsnade or London Zoo
13. Lookout Lodge
How to reach Whipsnade Zoo
ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, which is 58 Kms (36 Miles) North of London.
Whipsnade Zoo address
Dunstable LU6 2LF,
The United Kingdom.
If you are a tourist, public transport is the best way to reach the Whipsnade Zoo at Dunstable.
Luton and Hemel Hempstead are the two train stations closest to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.
Thameslink train service can get you from St. Pancras to Luton station, and London NorthWestern railways can get you from London Easton to Hemel Hempstead.
Both the train journeys will take you around 30 minutes.
Since both Luton and Hemel Hempstead are approximately 16 Kms (10 Miles) from Whipsnade Zoo, you must take a Taxi once you get down at the train station.
A Taxi will take 20 minutes to drop you at the Zoo’s entrance.
We recommend the Centrebus route 40 if you want connectivity from Dunstable to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.
Dunstable is 6 Kms (3.7 Miles) from Whipsnade Zoo and the bus covers the distance in 20+ minutes.
Be aware that on Sundays, this bus doesn’t ply.
If you live in London, its best to drive down to the Zoo.
The drive from M25 (junction 21) to the ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will take you 20 minutes.
You can find your way to the Whipsnade Zoo, Dunstable by following the signs available on M1 (Junction 9 and junction 12).
Whipsnade Zoo Parking
Even though ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is not a safari park, it is spread over a vast area.
That’s why some visitors don’t mind paying a nominal fee to take their car inside the Zoo.
Parking costs depend on the time of the year –
Mid-Feb to Oct (summer): 25 Pounds/car
Early Nov to Feb (winter): 12 Pounds/car
If you don’t want to pay the parking fee, use the free external parking and explore the Zoo by walk/Safari bus.
Safari Bus inside Whipsnade Zoo
Those who don’t drive to the Whipsnade Zoo in their car can either walk around and explore or take the Safari Bus.
Keep an eye out for a bright-green colored bus and hop on.
The Safari Bus passes through numerous enclosures, helping you explore the Zoo for free.
Whipsnade Zoo’s Safari bus time table
The first Safari bus of the day starts from the Main Gate at 10.15 am.
After a journey time of six minutes, the bus reaches the first enclosure, where the White Rhino lives.
White Rhinos: At 10.21 am (after journey time of 6 mins)
Hippos: At 10.26 am (after 5 mins)
Tigers: At 10.29 am (after 3 mins)
Elephants: At 10.36 am (after 7 mins)
Hullabazoo: At 10.39 am (after 3 mins)
Safari Bus trip from the boarding point (Main Gate) to the last enclosure (Hullabazoo) takes 24 minutes.
A Whipsnade Zoo Safari bus starts from the Main Gate every half hour, following the same schedule.
That is, the second bus of the day leaves the Main Gate at 10.45 am, and so forth.
The timing of the last Safari bus of the day from the Main Gate depends on the Zoo’s closing time.
4 pm closing: Last bus leaves at 3.15 pm
4.30 pm closing: 3.45 pm
5 pm closing: 4.15 pm
5.30 pm closing: 4.45 pm
6 pm closing: 5.15 pm
Whipsnade Zoo opening times
Throughout the year Whipsnade Zoo, Dunstable opens at 10 am, but it’s closing time depends on the season.
31 Mar to 1 Sept: Closes at 6 pm, last entry at 5 pm
2 Sept to 26 Oct: Closes at 5 pm, last entry at 4 pm
27 Oct to 14 Feb: Closes at 4 pm, last entry at 3 pm
The Zoo remains closed on Christmas Day.
How long does Whipsnade Zoo take
There are many things to experience at Whipsnade Zoo, which makes it a full-day tourist attraction.
If you are visiting with kids and elders and want to see all the animal enclosures, attend a few keeper talks and participate in a some activities, you will need five to six hours.
If you are in a hurry and want to run through everything at Whipsnade Zoo quickly, you will need at least three hours.
If you want to finish your tour quickly, we recommend the following –
1. Buy Whipsnade Zoo tickets in advance, so that you don’t waste time standing in a ticketing queue
2. Pay a nominal fee at the entrance and take in your car. With a car at your disposal, you can drive to the various animal enclosures thus saving yourself a lot of time
Best time to visit Whipsnade Zoo
If the weather is good, the best time to visit Whipsnade Zoo is as soon as they open at 10 am.
Early in the morning, the animals are in their most active state, and the crowd is yet to come in.
In the morning, the weather is also pleasant as compared to late afternoons.
If your child is interested in a particular animal(s), do check out the keeper talk/ feeding sessions schedule before planning your visit.
Whipsnade Zoo discount
The adult Whipsnade Zoo ticket, which is applicable for visitors aged 16 to 59 years, costs 24 Pounds.
Kids below 3 years qualify for a 100% discount on their ticket – yes, they get to enter for free!
The next best Whipsnade Zoo discount is reserved for kids aged 3 to 15 years.
They pay a reduced price of 16 Pounds per person, which is 8 Pounds less than what a full adult ticket costs.
Students 16 years plus and seniors who are 60+ can claim a 2 Pound discount on the full adult ticket by showing a valid ID card.
However, the best Whipsnade Zoo offer is on online tickets – when you buy your tickets online, you get a 10% reduction on all tickets.
Whipsnade Zoo tickets
These are smartphone tickets – they get emailed to you the moment you make the purchase.
On the day of your visit, show the Whipsnade Zoo tickets on your phone and walk into the Zoo right away.
In case you chance your plans, you can cancel these tickets up to 24 hours before your visit date.
Whipsnade Zoo ticket prices
Adult tickets (16 to 59 years): 24 Pounds
Child ticket (3 to 15 years): 16 Pounds
Seniors ticket (60+ years): 22 Pounds
Student ticket (16+ years, with valid ID): 22 Pounds
Note: Under-16 visitors must be accompanied by an adult.
Keeper talks and Events
Get most out of your Whipsnade Zoo experience by participating in the numerous talks and activities organized by the Zoo.
These Whipsnade Zoo events are specially created to bring you closer to nature and its animals.
1. Lemur Chat
Wake up the Lemurs with the zookeepers at 10.15 am and learn more about the cute animals at the Base camp talk.
2. Chimp Chat
At 11 am you can reach Chimp Island and learn about the life of these apes.
3. Bird show
The Zoo has a variety of exciting birds, and kids love these free-flying bird demonstrations.
There are three birds shows daily – at 11.15 am, at 1.30 pm and at 3.30 pm.
4. Penguin Talk
At 11.30 am say hello to the Penguins, who have travelled all the way from Africa.
5. Bear versus Wolverine
Play a game of trumps and see who is the real predator – Bear or Wolverine?
The face-off starts at 12 pm.
6. Sea Lion Talk
At 12 pm, you can learn about the lifestyle of the clever Sea Lions and feed them.
The second session with the sea lions starts at 2.30 pm.
7. Elephant Talk
At 1.30 pm step into the shoes of an elephant caretaker and see how gigantic and yet graceful these animals are.
8. Talk on African Hunting Dogs
Get a sneak peek into the life of these animals and learn about their teamwork at 3.45 pm.
Whipsnade Zoo map
At 600 acres (2.4 km2) ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is massive and hosts a lot of animals.
We recommend that you carry a copy of WhipsnadeZoo’s map during your visit.
A map will ensure you don’t get lost and find the animal enclosures easily.
Whipsnade Zoo’s map will also help you figure out visitor services such as the restrooms, restaurants, picnic spots, smoking areas, Safari bus stops, etc.
Food at Whipsnade Zoo
Families planning on saving money usually bring along a picnic.
If you have brought your own food to the Zoo, you can use the indoor picnic area near the Butterfly House.
Else you have the option of choosing from the below given six different restaurants –
1. Base Camp Restaurant
This family-friendly restaurant offers delicious food with fresh and local ingredients.
Don’t keep this visit for the end because this fantastic eating joint closes half an hour before the Zoo’s closing time.
2. River Cottage kitchen and Deli
This entry overlooking the white rhinos offers delicious food, available in two sizes – for adults and kids.
The River Cottage kitchen closes two hours before the Zoo shuts down.
3. Visitor center café
This is the first Cafe you will see once you enter the Zoo.
In here, you can grab some deli sandwiches, snacks, and drinks before you start exploring.
This café closes at the Zoo’s closing time.
4. Hullabazoo Kids Café
This is the place to dine if you are visiting with kids.
Don’t miss their Kids’ Bites offer where one gets five items for 5 Pounds.
This café opens at 10 am.
5. Station Store Picnic shop
The Station Store eatery is right next to the Great Whipsnade Railway and is open only on weekends and school holidays, to cater to the crowd.
The store closes an hour before Zoo’s closing time.
6. Africa Outpost
With delicious waffles, ice creams and treats on sale, this surely is a sweet lover’s paradise.
The opening time for this restaurant depends on the weather.
Whipsnade Zoo or London Zoo
Most visitors end up comparing the London Zoo with Whipsnade Zoo at Dunstable.
If you are also split between the two of London’s most beautiful Zoos we can help you decide.
Both Whipsnade and London Zoo are managed by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), and that is why ‘ZSL’ is often added to their names.
2. Location of the Zoos
ZSL London Zoo is situated at the Northern edge of Regent’s Park, which is why it is often referred to as the Regent Zoo.
It is right in the middle of three underground stations – Camden Town station, Regent’s Park station, and the Baker Street station, which makes it very convenient to reach.
ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, which is 58 Kms (36 Miles) North of London.
3. Type of Zoos
Whipsnade is more of a Wildlife Park, while the one in the middle of London is a Zoo in the traditional sense.
4. Size of the Zoos
Whipsnade Zoo, Dunstable is almost 17 times bigger than the London Zoo.
London Zoo is 14 ha (36 acres) big while the much bigger Whipsnade Zoo is spread over 243 ha (600 acres).
In fact, Whipsnade Zoo is the biggest Zoo in the whole of the UK.
5. Animals & their enclosures
When it comes to the number of animals, London Zoo wins hands down.
London Zoo hosts a total of 19,000+ animals belonging to more than 650 species.
Meanwhile, Whipsnade Zoo at Dunstable, England only houses 3,600+ animals from 200+ species.
However, the animals at Whipsnade Zoo are kept in big enclosures and paddocks while the London Zoo animals are confined in smaller pens.
6. Food options
Visitors who have been to both the Zoos found the food at London Zoo to be better.
However, the pricing at both the places is high.
That’s why we recommend you take along a blanket and food and have your own picnic.
Both the Zoos provide picnic tables, including covered indoor space should the weather go bad.
7. Time needed to explore
The recommended visiting time for London Zoo is two to three hours.
However, if you want to explore Whipsnade Zoo to your satisfaction, you will need at least five to six hours.
8. Better Zoo in bad weather
On a bad weather day, especially if it is raining, London Zoo is a better option because there are plenty of indoor exhibits and sheltered spaces.
Indoor exhibits such as the Aquarium, Rainforest Life, Blackburn Pavilion (the walk-through bird exhibit), Butterfly Paradise, BUGS (the biodiversity and conservation exhibit), Reptile House, etc. come to the rescue even during winter.
At the London Zoo, even unsheltered animal enclosures have covered spaces for the visitors to stand and watch.
As far as Whipsnade Zoo is concerned, only their fantastic new Butterfly House is indoors.
Whipsnade Zoo reviews
London’s Whipsnade Zoo is a highly rated tourist attraction.
Check out two Whipsnade Zoo reviews we have picked from Tripadvisor, which give you an idea of what to expect at this Zoo.
Amazing for dates, families, anyone!
I would highly recommend Whipsnade zoo. The enclosures are amazing, and its wonderful hearing about the work ZSL is doing for these animals – one of the most ethical zoos around. Despite the huge enclosures, we still got to see almost every animal there as they were obviously very happy to wander around and bask in the sun.
It is well worth the ticket price and worth multiple visits. – Lizabread, Leeds, UK
Amazing day out
Never have I visited a facility with so many enthusiastic, helpful keepers. Almost every exhibit had someone nearby only too happy to chat about the animals. We learned their names, their habits, and after sticking around for feeding time, we also could reel off truly memorable photos at most enclosures. This was a trip well worth making, and I hope to be a ‘keeper for a day’ soon. – CAmzn, England
Lookout Lodge at Whipsnade Zoo
Fancy spending a night at Whipsnade Zoo, amongst the animals?
The Lookout Lodge overlooks the beautiful Chiltern Downs, and you will have white rhinos and reindeer as neighbors.
The cost of this night stay is steep – it ranges between 298 Pounds to 418 Pounds depending on the season.
However, the experience of staying at the Lookout Lodge is like no other.
As part of the stay package, you also get the following:
– One tour of the Whipsnade Zoo at sunset
– One after-dark tour of the Whipsnade Zoo
– One early morning guided tour of the Whipsnade Zoo
– A delicious two-course dinner
– Full English breakfast
– Free entry into ZSL Whipsnade Zoo and ZSL London Zoo for two days