A Memorable Day at Edinburgh Zoo: An Unforgettable Family Adventure

Edinburgh Zoo is a place where dreams of wildlife encounters come to life. Nestled amidst the picturesque landscapes of Edinburgh, this renowned zoological garden offers an enchanting experience for families with a penchant for wildlife and adventure. We embarked on a heartwarming journey to Edinburgh during the October half-term to see the Giant Pandas before their return to China in December 2023.

Why We Chose Edinburgh Zoo

Edinburgh zoo

As a family, our passion for wildlife exploration led us to Edinburgh Zoo, where the iconic Giant Pandas, Tian Tian and Yang Guang, awaited our visit. With the clock ticking towards their imminent return, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to witness these magnificent creatures up close.

A Family of Wildlife Enthusiasts

Edinburgh zoo

Our family comprises me, Simon, and our three young adventurers – Lillie, Ollie, and Albie. We have a shared love for visiting zoos to learn about animals worldwide; it’s something we have done for as long as I can remember. It’s a way to bond, have fun, and create lasting memories.

Perfect Timing for a Visit


Our visit to Edinburgh Zoo took place on a slightly cold and damp day, but we were prepared with appropriate clothing and eager spirits. The fact that it wasn’t half-term in Scotland meant that we could explore the zoo easily since it wasn’t overly busy, and the friendly and helpful staff added to the warmth of our experience.

Goals and Expectations


Our primary goal was to see the Giant Pandas, but the surprise of Koalas in the zoo’s collection was an exciting bonus. We also had our all-time favourites on the list, such as the cheeky Chimpanzees and the playful Penguins.

Planning and Getting There

Edinburgh Zoo

We stayed in Kinghorn, Fife, just 28 miles north of Edinburgh, and chose to drive to the zoo. The journey across the Queensferry Crossing was straightforward. We had pre-purchased our tickets online in advance, as recommended on the zoo website and made use of our children’s Blue Peter badges to secure their free entry. We did have to pay for Albie, though, as the rules have changed on the Blue Peter badges, and now it is only one child free per paying adult.

We arrived at 11.30am and left the zoo at 5pm. As I said, we did go around the zoo 2-3 times to ensure everyone had plenty of opportunity to see their favourite animals. If you are short on time, it is possible to do the zoo in less time.

Unforgettable Highlights

Yang Guang

Our visit was filled with remarkable moments. We were fortunate to witness the Giant Pandas, who are now in quarantine ahead of their return to China. Tian Tian was sleeping in her bunk and very hard to see initially, whilst Yang Guang looked like he had passed out on his platform after too much bamboo.

The Koalas charmed us with their cuteness, and the massive Rhino left us in awe. However, we did have to follow him from the bottom of his enclosure to the top and back down again, as he just wouldn’t stay still.


The chimpanzees showcased their playful antics, a little fight between two males who were getting a little over-excited by a female who had just come into season, and we even got to witness a 3-year-old baby chimp’s daring food heist.

Ollie, Albie and I had a rather spine-tingling encounter when a lion roared next to the glass in his enclosure, a moment that sent shivers down our spines. I’m not going to lie; I did question the integrity of the glass between us.

Family-Friendly Amenities


While the car park facilities had limited restroom space, the zoo itself offers larger and more convenient options. The zoo’s staff was always ready to assist and answer our questions.

A Feast for the Mind


Our children found joy in reading about the zoo’s animals and enjoyed learning more about their favourite creatures. Although the Keeper Talks were difficult to hear due to the crowd, the keepers were always approachable for post-talk discussions.

If you plan to listen to a keeper talk, I recommend getting there early so you can stand closer to the front.

Eating and Souvenirs

Lunch at the Penguin Cafe was a delightful experience, but it’s advisable to arrive early to have the best food selection. We arrived a little after lunchtime, and there were slim pickings.

The souvenir shop, while busy, offered a range of items at various price points, from affordable shopping bags to cherished panda soft toys, t-shirts and hoodies to jewellery and artwork.

Helpful Tips for Your Visit

Tian Tian

Our recommendation for visitors is to explore the zoo more than once to increase your chances of seeing all the animals in action. One of the keepers told us that the animals all tend to be a little more active later in the day, and they were right. We went back to see the Pandas later in the day and caught a glimpse of Tian Tian as she poked her head out to assess the rain.

Be prepared for lots of walking, especially on the zoo’s hilly terrain. A minibus is available for those who may find the climb challenging. Additionally, take note of the differing closing times for the enclosures at the top and the rest of the zoo.

A Day Filled with Satisfaction

We left Edinburgh Zoo with our hearts brimming with happiness and cherished memories. We were exhausted from all the walking, but the overall feeling was immense satisfaction.

Best Times to Visit

The ideal time to visit the zoo may vary depending on the weather, as animals sometimes prefer to hide indoors on wet or hot days. However, our visit in slightly cold weather provided us with beautiful sightings.

Children’s Favorites


Our children couldn’t stop talking about their favourite animals on the journey home, including the Giant Panda, Koalas, Chimpanzees, and Penguins.

A Family Bonding Experience

Visiting Edinburgh Zoo brought our family closer as we shared unforgettable memories and the delightful characters we encountered on our journey.

In closing, our day at Edinburgh Zoo was an unforgettable family adventure filled with wonder, laughter, and warmth. The charm of the animals, the hospitality of the staff, and the joy of our children made it a day to remember. We hope our experience inspires other families to embark on their own wildlife exploration at this incredible zoo.

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