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Edinburgh Zoo

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Edinburgh Zoo

Address Corstorphine Road, Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Telephone 0131 334 9171
How to Find it: BY CAR: From the south - on the A1, A68 or A702 When you reach the City Bypass (A720) turn left, following signs for Edinburgh north and west. Follow the by-pass for 13 miles (from the A1), 11 miles (from the A68) or 6 miles (from the A702) until the end of the bypass. At the huge Gogarburn roundabout, take the right hand lane, and turn right, following signs for Edinburgh city centre (A8). Follow this road for approx 2.5 miles, going through Corstorphine. The Zoo is on your left, with the car park entrance just between the Zoo and the Holiday Inn. From the south west - on the A70 Approaching Edinburgh, at the village of Currie, turn left at the Post Office following signs for Hermiston and Heriot Watt University. Follow this road for 1.5 miles, then turn right onto the A71 towards the city centre for a further 1.5 miles. At the first roundabout, turn left onto the City Bypass (A720) and head north for 2 miles. At the huge Gogarburn roundabout, take the right hand lane, and turn right, following signs for Edinburgh city centre (A8). Follow this road for approx 2.5 miles, going through Corstorphine. The Zoo is on your left, with the car park entrance just between the Zoo and the Holiday Inn. From the south west - on the A71 Heading towards Edinburgh, turn left onto the City Bypass (A720) following signs for Edinburgh north. Follow this for 2 miles, until the end of the bypass. At the huge Gogarburn roundabout, take the right hand lane, and turn right, following signs for Edinburgh city centre (A8). Follow this road for approx 2.5 miles, going through Corstorphine. The Zoo is on your left, with the car park entrance just between the Zoo and the Holiday Inn. From the west - on the M8 Travelling east on the M8, leave the motorway at Junction 1 onto the City Bypass (A720). Follow this for 1.5 miles, until the end of the bypass at the huge Gogarburn roundabout. Take the right hand lane, and turn right, following signs for Edinburgh city centre (A8). Follow this road for approx 2.5 miles, going through Corstorphine. The Zoo is on your left, with the car park entrance just between the Zoo and the Holiday Inn. From the airport - on the A8 Follow signs for Edinburgh city centre, turning left onto the A8. On the dual carriageway, take the right hand land for City Centre, and follow the underpass at the huge Gogarburn roundabout. Follow this road for approx 3 more miles, going through Corstorphine. The Zoo is on your left, with the car park entrance just between the Zoo and the Holiday Inn. From the north west - on the M9 Leave the motorway at Junction 1, following signs for the Airport (A8). On the dual carriageway, take the right hand land for City Centre, and follow the underpass at the huge Gogarburn roundabout. Follow this road for approx 3 more miles, going through Corstorphine. The Zoo is on your left, with the car park entrance just between the Zoo and the Holiday Inn. From the north, Forth Road Bridge - on the M90 Continue on the A90 towards Edinburgh city centre, for 5 miles. At the Cramond roundabout, turn right onto the A902 for a further 1.5 miles. At the Maybury Junction, turn left onto the A8 following signs for city centre. Follow this road for a further 2 miles, going through Corstorphine. The Zoo is on your left, with the car park entrance just between the Zoo and the Holiday Inn
Open: We are open every day of the year - even Christmas Day! - from 9.00am. We close at the following times: April - September 6.00pm October and March 5.00pm November - February 4:30pm Please note that our animal houses close 15 minutes prior to these times.
Prices: Admission prices 2008 (valid from 17 March 2008) Adult £11.50* Child 3 - 14 years £8.00* Child (Under 3) FREE Concession (ID Required) £10.00* Family Tickets 2 Adults + 2 Children £35.00* 2 Adults + 3 Children £40.00*
Area: 80 acres
No of Species No of Animals Star Rating
Mammals 64 319 Conservation
Birds 79 382 Enclosures
Reptiles 25 179 Education
Amphibians 7 491 Recreation
Fish Research
Total 175 1371
Click here for a Link to the Zoo's own Web Pages
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This critique last updated:  Dec 2010


Official Description

Our mission is to inspire and excite our visitors with the wonder of living animals, and so to promote the conservation of threatened species and habitats

Visitor Reviews

Rory O'Brien 21st April 2009

We had planned to visit Blackpool Zoo over the Easter Holidays but the forecast was poor, so I decided to take my three sons to Edinburgh Zoo instead.  Trying to get then ready for school is a nightmare when Roar is on in the morning, and Animal Park is another favourite, so we really had to go and see some wild animals.

Where are the Gorillas? Elephants? Giraffes?  The Lions were locked up because one was expecting imminently.  The Big Cats were not in very big enclosures, and in particular, the Jaguars were not visible at all!   The Rhinoceros too were in a very small enclosure.   It was a big disappointment and made us all feel sorry for the animals, particularly for a couple of the monkeys who just ran round their cages.  Having visited London, Blackpool and Paignton Zoo’s, I felt that Edinburgh, a capital city could have done a lot better.

On a positive note, the Penguins were fabulous and the boys spent nearly an hour watching them being fed and zooming around the large pool.  The highlight of the day was seeing the KuneKune Pig, Maori for “Plump and Fat”, which we spent the rest of the day using as an insult to each other!

Overall, the day was expensive (£3 less than Blackpool) and a bit disappointing and we definitely plan a visit to Blair Drummond Safari Park and to visit Chester, Blackpool or Longleat in the Summer Holidays. 

GoodZoos.com Reviews

The first zoo ever established in Scotland was The Royal Edinburgh Zoological Gardens. It opened its gates to the public in 1839. and closed them again eighteen years later, after running into difficulties. For over half a century the Scots still had to travel south of the border to see the exotic creatures that had captured the imaginations of the English. Eventually it was not a naturalist or an animal collector who provided Scotland with a new zoo: it was a solicitor. He was Thomas Hailing Gillespie, a law agent from Dumfries, who despite his profession had no great love for the law. Instead he longed to establish a Zoological Park in Scotland’s capital city. The advice he received was not encouraging. ‘You’ll never get animals to live in a climate like Edinburgh’s’, he was told: and he might have believed it had he not, in 1908, read of Carl Hagenback’s new zoo at Hamburg where tropical animals were happily thriving in a winter climate more severe that any experienced in Scotland. 

Gillespie determined that he would pursue his dream. He started by founding a Zoological Society, and then by searching for a suitable site. In 1912 he found it. The estate of Corstophine Hill House, close to the city centre, with a fine house and pleasant gardens, was offered to the Society for the sum of £ 17,000. The money proved difficult to raise, but on 4th February 1913 the Edinburgh City Council purchased the site for the Society, and with a further £8,000 provided by members. Gillespie set about building his zoo. 
It took only fifteen weeks to prepare and stock the site — initially with borrowed animals, and the new Zoological Park opened its gate to visitors on 15th July 1913. 

Two of the principal enclosures on the new site were to set the style for what was to become an exciting and innovative city zoo. These were the lion and bear enclosures, fashioned after Hagenback’s open compounds. Both were quarried out of the hillside housing the animals behind ditches against a natural backdrop of whinstone rock. 
Under Gillespie’s direction the new Edinburgh Zoo grew and flourished. New buildings and enclosures were gradually added to the collection, and as adjoining land became available, this too became part of the zoo. In 1927 a grant enabled the building of the great Carnegie Aquarium, a new Ape House followed in 1929, and in 1933 the Wolf Wood was planted. Twice bombed in the second war, the zoo survived very lightly scathed, and in 1947, following a visit by King George VI and Princess Margaret, the King granted the Society the honour of becoming ‘The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’. 

During its early years, Edinburgh Zoo soon established a reputation for sound animal management. Its first sealion was born in 1934, the same year as the first of numerous beavers. In 1936 it reared its first chimpanzee, and in 1938 its first litter of wolves — a litter that three years later had to be destroyed for fear that bombing could lead to their escape. The war years saw the birth of Britain’s first baby orang-utan at Edinburgh. But despite these achievements, and others, the park made its most notable mark with a group of animals that were to become almost synonymous with Edinburgh Zoo — the penguins. 

Edinburgh’s long association with penguins owes its origins to the involvement of the Society’s first president. Lord Salvesen, a law lord related to the family who owned the Leith whaling fleet of the South Georgia Whaling Company. Today a relationship between a conservation zoo and whalers would surely be unthinkable, but for the young zoo the whalers provided a rare supply of wildlife from the Southern oceans — among them a seemingly endless quantity of penguins. The first six arrived in 1914, and were met without any great enthusiasm from Gillespie, who was far more interested in the elephant seals that accompanied them. But as more penguins arrived every year, so it became clear that these animals thrived in the mild Scottish climate. Over eight hundred penguins were brought to the city by Salvesens over the years, for Edinburgh and for other zoos, and at one time or another the zoo has had representatives of almost every penguin species, including the first Adelie penguins ever seen in Europe and the first New Zealand ‘fairy’ blue. In the 1950s a came an incident now preserved in folklore. A keeper accidentally left open a gate to the penguin pool, and was followed by a parade of penguins all around the zoo. It was the start of Edinburgh’s now famous ‘Penguin Parade’, an event still enjoyed not only by visitors every summer afternoon, but clearly also by the two thirds of the zoo’s 120 or so penguins who choose to join in. 
Today Edinburgh is very much a zoo in transition, The present director, Roger Wheater. is steering the zoo firmly in a direction where species management is paramount, and conservation has become the new objective. Within the zoo the number of species is falling steadily as the emphasis moves towards keeping species in larger numbers of each, and concentrating upon those that can be self-sustaining. A great deal of redevelopment is taking place with old enclosures being renovated and new enclosures created. There is a strong feeling that here at last is an urban zoo genuinely trying to outgrow its legacy, in an attempt to become a vigorous and successful modern collection. 

Walking around Edinburgh Zoo can be hard work. The park rises steeply from the Corstophine Road, widening in the middle, and it is a stiff climb from the main entrance to the open paddocks and African Plains exhibit right at the top of the hill. Probably the best plan is to zig-zag gently upwards, and for this the guide book is well worth buying. 

The old Carnegie Aquarium has now been closed. The salt water of the seawater tanks had corroded away the very frames of the building, and repair was simply too expensive. It has instead been converted into an impressive new entrance complex and a shop. ‘Arkadia’, and it will soon also house a new ‘wildlife interpretive centre’. 
Among the first animals to greet the visitor, from a huge aviary, are bald Waldrapp Ibis — Europe’s rarest and most endangered bird, now being kept at Edinburgh in a cooperative project with Jersey Zoo.
Climbing slowly you pass sealions in a rocky poo1, rheas and storks, and an important collection of pheasants, well illustrated on the signs, including Edward’s Pheasant — a species decimated in the Vietnam War, Reeve’s Pheasant, and the Cheer Pheasant — now the subject of a reintroduction programme into its former range in Pakistan where it became extinct in the 1970s. 

Red pandas are popular, as always, housed in an enclosure with a tall fir where they hide effectively among the branches. A pair of polar bears occupy one of the zoo’s main rocky enclosures where, like the brown bears, they are viewed at’ visitor eye level’. The polar bear enclosure is visually attractive, and the polar bears have recently produced two cubs, Edinburgh Zoo’s well promoted Wee Sweetie’, and another yet to be seen by visitors in 1992. 

The monkey house, opened in 1972, has successful groups of Diana monkeys, spectacled langurs, and white-faced saki monkeys. It also holds the best collection of guenons in Britain, including Allen’s swamp monkey. The monkey house uses natural trees for the animals and both indoor and outdoor runs have been recently greatly enriched with plenty of extra climbing facilities. New ape accommodation holds a new group of lowland gorillas, the first ever seen in Scotland. All the gorillas are on breeding loan at present, from Dublin, Bristol, Rotterdam, and Chicago. A new range for marmosets houses breeding groups of Geoffroy’s marmosets, pygmy marmosets, and Goeldi’s monkeys. A splendid and noisy group of siamang gibbons are kept in a suitable long cage and have twice bred, and close by is a redeveloped chimpanzee house holding a family group of chimps with a large well equipped play area and glass-fronted indoor dens. The play area is viewed across a green barrier at tree height from outside, and at ground level from inside. It looks across onto a children’s playground so that chimpanzee and human can both watch each other at play. 

The reptile house is a long hail with vivaria along both sides. It is an older style house, but well maintained. The reptiles kept include many important species, several the subject of inter-zoo management agreements. Beyond is the reptile breeding unit where windows afford visitors the view of incubating eggs and newly hatched young. Species propagated here include blue tongued skinks, rainbow boas and plumed basilisks. 

Small cats are housed in redeveloped ‘rock-dens’ behind glass. They include leopard cats and margays. Large cats - the lions, tigers, leopards, and jaguars - are held in attractive compounds with a high background of rock; excellent for photographs, but perhaps rather small for the animals themselves. 

The zoo’s wolf wood still holds a small pack of Canadian timber wolves, although these no longer breed here, there are giraffe in a recently enlarged enclosure, pens for those rarely seen but delightful little antelopes — pudus and duikers — pygmy hippos that have bred here, beavers, and a pair of white rhino which breed well, unusually for this species which normally only breeds if kept in a herd. 

Right at the top of the hill, with a panoramic view across the city, is one of the best features of the zoo, making it well worth the climb, it is an African Plains exhibit where zebra, red lechwe, and scimitar-homed oryx herd together. The latter two arc important captive stock of what are both endangered species, and oryx from Edinburgh Zoo have already been sent back to Tunisia for reintroduction into the wild. 

The zoo keeps a great many birds; waterfowl, cassowaries, which breed well, golden eagles, plenty of parrots, Chilean flamingos which breed here, several owls, and pelicans. But without a doubt it is the penguins that are still the highlight of the collection. The zoo now concentrates upon four species: the tall, yellow- collared king penguin, the striking rockhopper penguin with its startling red eyes and yellow plumes, and the more familiar and entertaining gentoo penguin. King penguins were among the first to be kept at Edinburgh, and when in 1919 the first chick was hatched its story was reported in almost every newspaper in the land. Many false alarms, accidents, infertile eggs, and premature deaths followed before the zoo really began to breed king penguins regularly, although the hatching rate is still not high, and the colony is not yet self perpetuating. The gentoos have a more impressive breeding record, nesting on artificial stone- filled nests, and between twenty and thirty chicks are reared every year. keeping the population of these birds at the zoo safely above ninety or more. The rockhoppers too are breeding, although in small numbers, and the zoo has now established them as a self sustaining group. Recently 25 macaroni penguins were added to the zoo population. They were all hatched from eggs collected in South Georgia. They join the rest of the zoo’s penguins in spectacular new £600,000 penguin enclosure, due to be opened by the Princess Royal in April 1992. It will be, without a doubt, the best penguin enclosure in Europe. It will house all of the zoo’s king penguins, gentoo penguins, and macaroni penguins, providing them all with deep water for swimming, and with extensive beaches, as well as with a crèche pool for the chicks. Two keepers have been trained as divers in order to look after the penguins effectively. For visitors there will be expansive underwater viewing, and a 20 metre suspension bridge over the whole area to allow ‘over water viewing’. More than half the money for the new pool was raised from the public, members of the Zoological Society, and local businesses. The hope of the zoo is that the new poo1 will better suit the king penguins, reversing their decline.

If it is some time since you last visited Edinburgh Zoo, then expect some changes. There is a new mood about this zoo, a positive and enthusiastic mood, and if it continues then Edinburgh should continue to deserve its place among the most respected of British collections.

Species List

 

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