Cuddly, creepy, friendly and fierce, there’s a host of creatures waiting to meet your family over at Askham Bryan Wildlife and Conservation Park, from the everyday to the exotic. It’s a bit of a hidden gem, located on the campus of Askham Bryan College, but it’s well worth a visit. We went again after lockdown and really enjoyed ourselves, in spite of the seriously soggy weather. Our children were so happy to see some animals again, and so were we. Here are our top five reasons to follow in our footsteps and visit York’s very own wildlife park.
There are plenty of animals to see
Okay, so it might not be on the scale of the mighty wildlife park outside Doncaster (you know the one), but that doesn’t mean that there’s not a lot to see at Askham Bryan. The indoor area is home to curious critters, from twisting turtles to burrowing armadillos to pretty (and pretty weird) fish and teeny tiny frogs. In the outdoor area you’ll see meerkats, monkeys and more: we were particularly taken by the wonderful wallabies and could have watched them bounding around for hours. And who doesn’t love a llama?!
The grounds are great for exploring
Although the animals are the main draw, there’s fun to be had in the grounds as well. Embark on a nature walk, play hide and seek among the trees (there’s an arboretum!), find the gnome sanctuary and see what you can spot in the wetlands zone. There’s often a trail to follow to keep children engaged in their visit, too. Although the wildlife park isn’t huge, it’s a good size for young families and there’s enough to do to fill a morning or afternoon quite happily. There’s also a play area – hooray! – with a good range of play equipment for children of all ages.
There are regular holiday activities (and birthday parties!)
In normal times, the wildlife park runs regular holiday activities which are an added bonus if you’re visiting, and Father Christmas has even been known to make an appearance. The animal talks, animal encounters and birthday parties are really popular options and well worth seeking out when things return to normal. Animal adoption is available all year round and is a great gift option for animal-mad children.
It’s well designed
The whole of the park feels well designed in terms of accessibility: there are wide corridors, flat paths, displays with large windows that aren’t too high and clear signage all the way around. For parents, this means you won’t have to spend too much time picking up your little ones to show them the animals (unless there’s a particularly shy snake at the back of an enclosure).
It’s good value
As any parent knows, it’s very easy to spend a fortune on a family day out. At £22.50 for a family of four, we think that Askham Bryan Wildlife Park is very competitively priced. If you think you’ll visit a few times, it’s worth considering an annual season pass. Take your own picnic (there are plenty of picnic benches and lots of space to sit) and you can really keep costs down. Parking is free, too.
Good to know
– The wildlife park isn’t open every day: it’s open on weekends and during school holidays, so check before you travel
– Don’t just turn up: you need to pre-book your tickets
– The Hive cafe is adjacent to the wildlife park and serves simple hot and cold snacks, meals and drinks