Whipsnade Zoo

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

ZSL Whipsnade ZooAddress

Dunstable Bedfordshire  LU6 2LF



Size of the Zoo

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is set upon 242ha (600 acres) of land.


ZSL Whipsnade Zoo was the vision of Sir Peter Chalmers Mitchell, the secretary of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) from 1903-35. He believed a place where the keeping and studying of animals in their natural surrounds could take place was needed.

The opportunity for this to occur arose in 1926 when ZSL made the purchase of Hall Farm, a derelict site close to Whipsnade Village. It cost the society £13,480 12s 10d.

Development of the site began with fencing and the planting of trees.

It took 2 years for the first animals to arrive on the site. These were five red jungle fowl, a golden pheasant and two Amherst pheasants. These were soon joined by llamas, wombats, muntjacs and skunks.

It would take another 3 years before Whipsnade Zoo would open to the public on Sunday May 23rd 1931. Originally it was known as Whipsnade Wild Animal Park. It was the first open range zoo in the world.

In 1933 a white lion was carved in to a hillside at Whipsnade Zoo.

Throughout the second world war the zoo hosted valuable animals from London Zoo such as the giant pandas, elephants and rhinos.

During 1967 the zoo celebrated the birth of Europe’s first cheetah cubs.

A range of developments took place throughout the 2000s. It began with Lions of the Serengeti during 2005.

This was followed by the Rhinos of Nepal habitat and a walk-through lemur habitat during 2007.

At Easter, the following year the zoo opened cheetah rock.

During 2015 Whipsnade Zoo opened a butterfly house and a new entrance.

Number of Animals

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is home to over 3000 animals representing over 200 species.


Jumbo Express

One way to see the Asian paddock species is take a ride on the Jumbo Express. The steam locomotives will take you on a ride to see the habitats of yaks, camels, elephants and rhinos.

Hullabazoo Indoor Play

In this indoor play zone kids, can let off steam while pretending to be like the animals. Slide like a penguin or climb like an insect in this zone.

Hullabazoo Adventure Play

This outdoor adventure area allows kids to relax and play.

Star Animals

William Windsor

A goat which was the mascot of the British Army’s Royal Welsh regiment retired to ZSL Whipsnade zoo in the May of 2009. He served for 8 years performing ceremonial duties until his retirement.

Main Exhibits

Whipsande Zoo is divided in to 4 zones. In these are several major exhibit complexes along with smaller habitats. Free roaming around the zoo are groups of wallabies and mara.

Falling outside, the bounds of any of the major areas is a penguin habitat. Here you can view the African and rockhopper penguins as they swim.


The Asia habitats major feature is the drive through Passage through Asia reserve featuring deer, antelope, yak and camels. It can be explored in your own vehicle or on the Jumbo express.

A habitat in the Asia zone is home to Amur tigers while another house’s sloth bears.

Main exhibit complexes within the Asian zone include:

Rhinos of Nepal

Rhinos of Nepal is an exhibit for the endangered Indian rhinoceros. It is a sustainable building that captures water for the pools and uses solar energy for heating.


Whipsnade Zoo’s Asian elephant herd live in the Asian zone. Here they enjoy a 2.82ha (7 acre) habitat filled with mud wallows, pools and more for them to enjoy.


Within the Africa zone you can view meerkats, white rhinos and hippos along with major habitat areas such as:

Cheetah Rock

This £1 million habitat allows the zoo to resume its cheetah breeding program building on the successful breeding’s of 140 cubs in Whipsnade Zoo’s history. Viewing of the cheetahs is through floor to ceiling glass windows.

Giraffe Heights

Climb up the giraffe heights platform and you will be eye to eye with the giraffes on their special viewing platform. The giraffe barn also features a viewing area.

Lions of the Serengeti

Explore this habitat in its African village setting and you will get up close and personal with the king of the jungle. Through floor to ceiling windows you can enjoy uninterrupted views of the African lion pride.


The European Zone at Whipsnade is made up of the Wild Wild Whipsnade exhibit. Here you can explore this habitat which explores the Britain of hundreds of years ago, with European brown bears, wolverines, European lynx, reindeer, bison, moose and wild boar.

Base Camp

Base Camp is the first area encountered once you enter Whipsnade Zoo. Here you can view flamingos, red pandas, otters, pelicans a range of major habitats including:

Butterfly House

The butterfly house provides a home for 30 species of colourful butterfly who fly free around you. You can also visit the Metamorphosis Zone where pupae emerge from their cocoons. Also, part of the house is an exhibit with west African dwarf crocodiles.


This exhibit features a naturalistic habitat while the indoor habitat allows you to watch the chimpanzees as they swing, play or rest in their hammocks.

Sea lions

In this habitat, you can see the zoo’s family of Californian sea lions splash about in the water.

In with the lemurs

Take a walk across the bridge and hop onto lemur island. Once on the island you are sharing their habitat and can get up close and personal. The zoo houses a lively troop of ring tailed lemurs.

Hullabazoo farm

Children can meet the young of the animal kingdom here. On display are a range of farmyard friends such as donkeys, pigs, goats, bunnies, guinea pigs, ferrets and chicks