Colchester Zoo

Things to do in Colchester | Colchester Zoo

On your way out of town, on the road that leads towards Layer Marney Tower, you’ll find Colchester Zoo, home to well over 5,000 animals, and one of the best outdoor activities in Colchester.

Colchester Zoo first opened its doors in 1963 and ever since has built a reputation for being one of the finest zoos in Europe thanks to its collection of more than 260 different species. It’s steadfast in its mission to protect rare and endangered species; Colchester Zoo has become one of the most highly regarded zoos in the country for its award-winning animal enclosures, conservation efforts and breeding projects. Take Kito for example; Kito was Britain’s first elephant to be born out of the process of artificial insemination, and the first in the world to be conceived at the first attempt.

The elephants are certainly one of the zoo’s main wildlife attractions. They’ve been popular with the people of Essex and Suffolk for over 30 years; Tanya and Zola, the zoo’s first elephants were brought to the zoo in 1983 and still survive today. Colchester Zoo is also the home of one particularly famous inhabitant, Simba, the largest lion in the world to be kept in captivity.

Today, you can explore more than 30 different exhibits at Colchester Zoo, which covers a grand total of more than 60 acres of Colchester countryside. To give you an idea of some of the fantastic wildlife on show, our favourites of the zoo’s zones include the Elephant Kingdom, Lost Madagascar – where you take a trip on the road train to see the lemurs, Playa Patagonia – home of Patagonian sea lions and the largest straight underwater tunnel in Europe, Dragons of Komodo, Lion Rock, Orangutan Forest, and Bears of the Rising Sun.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though. There really is an incredible amount to see and do at Colchester Zoo. In what was the first of its kind in the UK, it even has an augmented reality display that lets you walk with woolly mammoths. Plus, there’s a daily timetable of events and shows that take place around the zoo with something every quarter of an hour. Popular choices are the sea lion presentations, orangutan encounter, and elephant feeding.

You can make a full day out of your visit to Colchester Zoo; along with all of the fantastic wildlife, pay a visit to any one of the attraction’s nine places to eat, and pick up a souvenir from the well-stocked gift shops. You’re welcome to bring your own picnic. There’s plenty of free parking available. Tickets are reasonably priced, plus you can get a discount if you book in advance online.

Colchester Zoo

Colchester Zoo


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Whether you're coming to Colchester for a trip to the zoo, a tour of the castle, a visit to Firstsite, or an evening at the Mercury Theatre, stay with us at any one of our three Colchester hotels. They're perfect for exploring this most historic of Roman towns and all of its fascinating attractions.