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Colchester Zoo

Colchester Zoo is located in Essex, United Kingdom. It has been operating since 1963.

The zoo also operates a charity called Action for the Wild and a nature reserve known as the UmPhafa Private Nature Reserve located in South Africa.

It was the subject of season three of the series Zoo Days.


Face Painting

The zoo has a face painting station where you can get your face painted.

Lost Madagascar Train

The lost Madagascar train is a land train journey around a section of the park that leads to the lemur walkthrough enclosure.

Jungle Tumble Soft Play Complex

Jungle tumble soft play allows children up to 14 years old to play on projected games, crawl in tunnels and swing on ropes as well as racing on the slides. Under 3s have a special space where they can play with blocks, walk on a piano and play in the ball pit.

Adventure Play Areas

The zoo has 5 playgrounds where kids can let off some steam on slides and lookout towers.

Sensation Station

In this space you can interact with reptiles and exotic snakes. Kids can also interact with rabbits and turtles.

Discovery Centre

The discovery centre features a range of interactive activities and some small animal display’s.

Colchester Zoo




United Kingdom

Year Opened


Land Size

24ha (60acres)

Number of Species

220 (2020)


Colchester Zoo has its roots in the 2nd of June 1963 opening of Stanway Hall Park Zoo.

Stanway Hall was incredibly successful throughout the 1960s with many of the animals being celebrities who appeared in movies and commercials. This meant many people flocked to see the stars. One of the main attraction was Rajah, a lion who appeared in some of the Tarzan films.

Throughout the 1970s the star power with the lions continued. The main attraction at that time was Simba the largest captive lion to have ever lived. Also during this period three zeedonks (a cross between a zebra and a donkey) were born.

Visitors numbers declined during the 1970s and 1980s with the zoo’s condition following that trend. The 1981s Zoo Licensing Act also meant that a range of improvements needed to be made so the zoo could get a license. The owner at the time was Frank Farrar and he could not afford the improvements. This problem led him to sell the zoo.

In 1983 the zoo was taken over by the Tropeano family. They invested thousands of pounds into getting the zoo license ready as well as adding more animals. A major addition were Tanya and Zola, the African elephants, who were rescued from a Southern African cull.

In 1987 a hurricane occurred destroying many of the enclosures and trees. The park also lost power for 6 days. Luckily the British Army lent them a generator that saved the delicate zoo animals.

In the 1990s a major improvement was made to the zoo with 20 acres (8ha) of land purchased. This led to the Elephant Kingdom, Kingdom of the Wild and Edge of Africa being created.

During 2001 a major issue occurred that almost meant the end of the zoo. This was due to a foot and mouth out-break during which the zoo closed. This closure meant large amounts of lost revenue with donations from the community allowing the zoo to remain open.

In 2002 Kito the African elephant was born. He was the first British elephant born through artificial insemination.

2004 saw the zoo opened Playa Patagonia which won best new enclosure in the awards run by the Federation of Zoological Gardens of Great Britain and Ireland.

The zoo’s charity Action for the Wild was started in 1993 and in 2004 was registered. During 2005 3 farms were purchased by the zoo which were transformed into the UmPhafa Private Nature Reserve in South Africa. Onto this reserve they have released zebra, rhino, giraffe and a range of other species.

In 2009 Colchester Zoo bred the first white rhino calf born via artificial insemination in the UK.

In 2013 the zoo celebrated its 50th birthday.

During 2015 the zoo opened the Butterfly Glade enclosure.

Their chimpanzee lookout habitat underwent a 2 million pound renovation during 2018.

Star Animals

Sasha the white tiger

Sasha the white tiger lived at Colchester Zoo between 1998 and 2010. He was well loved by keepers and visitors. One of the reasons he was well known was due to the controversy when he killed his mate. After this he lived alone for the rest of his life.


A hybrid bornean and sumatran orangutan. Rajang passed away at age 50 in 2018. He had lived at the zoo since 1980.

Main Exhibits

Suricata Sands

This enclosure is home to the zoos mob of meerkats with areas to burrow and logs for the meerkats to climb. These animals also have a warm area inside so they can keep dry.

Bears of the rising sun

Bears of the rising sun is a sun bear enclosure with a waterfall and climbing frames. There are indoor and outdoor areas with public viewing. The bears also have private off show dens to escape the crowds. The bears that live in the enclosure were confiscated by anti-poaching patrols in Cambodia.

Call of the wild

Home to a pack of grey wolves

Orangutan forest

This exhibit took 4 years to complete opening in 2009. It is home to orangutans. It also features Asian fish and reptiles.

Elephant Kingdom

The elephant enclosure is home to one male and three female elephants. They have large outdoor paddocks with a waterfall and pool.

Lost Madagascar

Lost Madagascar allows people to walk in with the lemurs. Guests are taken to the enclosure by the Lost Madagascar express train. It is home to ring tailed lemurs and red bellied lemurs.

Worlds Apart

This enclosure is where you can view rhinoceros iguanas and walk in with small monkeys. There are also anacondas, dart frogs, red titi monkeys and fish. This is also where the worlds apart walkthrough is. In this space you can walk in with sloths, marmosets, tamarins and tamandus.

Familiar Friends

This area features kune kune pigs, chickens, goats, llamas and wallabies that you can feed.

Nature Area

Introduces visitors to native European species allowing them to look in a bird hide and lake to view.

Penguin Shores and Inca Trail

Both enclosures are home to a group of Humboldt penguins. Inca trail houses the breeding pairs while penguins shores is home to younger penguins born at the zoo.

Lion Rock

This £200,000 enclosure houses three African lions. It underwent a renovation during 2019.

World of Wings

This enclosure is home to great grey owlsAndean condors and King Vultures.

Playa Patagonia

This enclosure is home to 5 patagonian sea lions with the largest straight underwater tunnel in Europe. The enclosure holds 500,000 gallons of water.

Wilds of Asia

This zone is home to macaques, red pandas, hornbills, gibbons and Burmese pythons.

Walking Giants

2 of the 4 largest tortoise species on Earth live in Walking Giants. These are the aldabra giant tortoise and African spurred tortoise.

Chimp World

Provides a home to a group of chimps. The enclosure underwent a large renovation during 2018. It is also the location of the zoo’s slender snouted crocodile enclosure.

Edge of Africa

Species to be found in the Edge of Africa include hyenas, red river hogs, mandrills and a host of other species from the Dark Continent.

Australian Rainbows

Rainbows first flocked to Colchester in 2014 when this enclosure was opened by the mayor of the town. The space is home to rainbow lorikeets and in the future a group of rainbow fish will live in the pond. Guests can feed the birds with golden nectar.

Leopards at Ussuri Falls

This space is home to endangered Amur leopards. The two leopards at the zoo have their own enclosures as they are solitary in the wild.

Tiger Taiga

On the taiga are a pair of Amur tigers. Amur tigers are the largest of all of the big cats.

Dragons of Komodo

Colchester Zoo houses a breeding pair of komodo dragons. While they are still young yet it is hoped they will breed into the future.

Kingdom of the Wild

Giraffes, rhinos, kudu, maneless zebra and ostrich can all be seen roaming together in the same paddock at the Kingdom of the Wild. Pygmy hippos and patas monkeys inhabit the building at the zoo which is near the African vulture aviary. Also nearby is an enclosure for aardvarks. These aardvarks have two burrows and an enclosure home to the UKs most successful breeding pair of aardvarks.

Otter Creek

Home to a family of smooth coated otters. Colchester has the largest group of these animals in Europe.

Koi Niwa

Many Koi carp and Japanese Bitterling live in this Japenese inspired space with two larger pools. It features a range of ornaments, statues and waterfalls to make it look authentic.

Wallaby Walkabout

Visitors can walk around with the bennet’s wallabies so close interaction is possible.

Butterfly Glade

Opened in 2015 this walkthrough habitat allows you to view a range of butterflies.

Island Dwellers

The island dwellers enclosure houses Philippine spotted deer and Visayan warty pigs.

Gelada Bridge

Home to the zoo’s family of geladas.

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