As lifetime fans of Colchester Zoo, we jumped at the chance to review the new social distance
measures that Colchester has put into place after opening post Covid-19 pandemic and families can once again enjoy seeing their favourite animals in real life. Here is what you can expect from your visit.
Plan Your Day
The experience started after booking, where we were encouraged to download the Colchester Zoo
App on which visitors can plan the day to ensure you make the most of the attractions and facilities on
Colchester Zoo has a wide range of animals on offer from Sea Lions to Crocodiles, Lions to Elephants,
Tigers to Koi Carp, Horses and Goats as well as lots more. This Zoo offers something for all animal lovers, whatever the age and favourite furry mate.
Do I have to prebook tickets for Colchester Zoo?
Yes you do. We arrived fashionably early (as is normal in this early rising toddler household) and the carpark attendant informed us we were able to go on in before our allotted time. There was a bit of the queue upon arrival, but it went very quickly and we were able to gain entry using the pre-booked tickets on our phone. Always a bit of a drag to have to print out tickets prior to arrival!
Our normal zoo experience involves us joining the animal talks and the feeding sessions, we have
always enjoyed being able to feed the giraffes at Colchester zoo. However, due to the special
measures in place this is no longer available, but the animal talks are all uploaded on to the app so
you can enjoy them at your own leisure.
What social distancing measures are in place at Colchester Zoo?
Sophie took a map and directed us around the zoo, there are helpful arrows to follow the new one-
way system also some animal footprints which Sophie particularly enjoyed. Hand sanitizing stations
were very prominent throughout the Zoo.
Some enclosures also operated a traffic light system to avoid over-crowding in indoor spaces, which did mean small queues but nothing that overshadowed the flow of the day. Some of the more crowded indoor areas had jokes and puzzles to keep us entertained. Masks must be worn in all indoor areas/spaces although on our visit we found that not everyone was adhering to this. A red line has been placed around animal windows to avoid the glass becoming a germ hotbed (a great idea that is not so easy to enforce with an overexcited toddler).
Activities and Facilities
We were pleased to find out that you could still attend the Australian Rainbows exhibit and feed the
birds for a small fee for £1 a pot. Sophie loved this and she is always ready to roll up her sleeves and
dive in. We also, were able to get hands on with the goats and buy some feed for again £1 a pot. A
overly friendly goat stole Sophie’s pot of food and gobbled it up in one – which Sophie found
hilarious and said she liked him because he was naughty like her! There are also ample mini games
for children to take advantage of throughout the Zoo – although I did get slightly over anxious with
these and ensured Sophie sanitised after each activity.
There are plenty of play areas and food outlets opens with ample picnic areas around the Zoo. We
stopped at the Remi Brown Play Area for an ice cream and a little run around. There was a diverse
range of play equipment for all ages. These areas were all very clean, especially the toilet areas,
Colchester Zoo has limited the amount of toilets and social areas that are open to ensure that those
which are in use can have extra cleaning and this seemed to work well.
As always the trip finished in the gift shop with a giraffe purchase, it does operate a one way
system with a limited of number people allowed in at one time. I imagine this could mean a long
queue just to exit, if you are leaving at peak time.
The Madagascar Express
We ended our day with one of our favorite activities the Madagascar express train ride, we thought
this would be really busy as the animal feeding times were not taking place, but actually we found
the queue to be shorter than normal. The Train is also disinfected after each ride and has been
installed with Perspex glass to avoid contact between passengers. The driver gives a short
informative talk about the animals we pass keeping us adults and children entertained. Sophie
enjoyed practicing her royal wave to families we passed by.
The Verdict: is a socially distanced day out at Colchester zoo worth it?
As big fans of Colchester Zoo, there were some experiences which we missed, the face painting
especially. Whether it was just our luck or timing we found a lot of the animals were ‘hiding from us’
but I suppose you can never guarantee the animals will play ball anyway. Either way it was still an
experienced packed day at the zoo, we spent around 5 hours there, but you could easily spend
more. The Zoo is very clean and well kept as always. The food prices were reasonable and varied in
offer. There is something to keep everyone entertained. It was a great socially distanced family day out and we will come back again.
Tickets are released in blocks and prices are currently £15 per adult and £15 per child but do keep an eye out on their website here.