It was meant to be a sunny day and, as we weren’t staying far from Belfast Zoo, we decided a day at the Zoo would be a great idea. Unfortunately the weather didn’t listen to the forecast but fortunately Zoo’s can still be enjoyed in the rain!
We arrived at the Zoo just after opening which was a great idea as the park got busier during the morning and as we were leaving, the queue to get in was half way down the car park!
Belfast Zoo is set out on a hill, with the entrance being at the bottom and the paths to see the animals taking you up the hill.
There are two cafes, one at the bottom of the hill and one at the top.
Half way up is a very large childrens play park which would be ideal for small children and I was impressed to see that this included an accessible swing so all children could take part in the enjoyment.
We walked past what initially looked like a derelict building but turned out to be the preserved original entrance. As it was raining, we headed straight to the reptile house. This fairly small building housed impressive snakes, lizards and tortoises alongside smaller frogs and cockroaches.
We then made our way round the Zoo looking for other animals. I think, because it was raining, we had a hard time spotting some of them and we soon started laughing about the fact we had seen more wasps than any other animal! We did however manage to spot giraffes, elephants, a bear pacing up and down his enclosure, some funny penguins and the highlight of our day- a lion chasing a bird out of its enclosure!
There are some Zoos that we have visited, for instance Prague Zoo, where I have been really impressed with the amount of space and authenticity of animal enclosures. Unfortunately Belfast Zoo seemed smaller to me and at times I felt that, whilst some had plenty, some animals could have done with more spacious enclosures.
Belfast Zoo was smaller than we expected and, although we had the whole day set aside to spend at the Zoo, we were finished in just under 3 hours. This would have taken less time if we didn’t have a wheelchair to push up the hill. In comparison to other Zoos we have visited it wasn’t one of my favourites but as an attraction in its own right, if you are into animals then it is definitely worth a visit.
Taking an autistic child to Belfast Zoo?
If you download the app “Jam” before you visit, you can show the virtual jam card to avoid queues at the entrance and if you need assistance throughout the zoo.
Arrive before 10.30am to avoid the crowds.
The zoo is on a big hill. It is very steep if you have a Wheelchair. There is a vehicle for wheelchair users to book in advance that will take you round the zoo but this was broken when we visited. If you have a wheelchair I would definitely recommend ringing in advance to check if this is available and only visiting if it is.
Close supervision is necessary. Animal houses have different exits to entrances and paths dont always loop.
Not all animals were out when we visited. I wouldn’t promise any particular animals in advance for this reason.
There are accessible swings in the children’s playground.
There are toilets throughout the zoo and two cafes.
Carers get in free.
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