Animal Attractions in Devon

For all the animal lovers

This article was written on 21 November 2023
and is a 4 minute read

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Devon and Somerset offer a variety of animal attractions that cater to different interests and ages. We take a brief look at some of our favourites.

Paignton Zoo

Baboons at Paignton Zoo (Image: Andy Whittle on Flickr CC BY 2.0 DEED)

Situated on the English Riviera, this zoo is home to thousands of animals from around the world. It focuses on conservation and education while providing an enjoyable experience for visitors. You need to allow a full day to take it all in as this zoo is huge!

Ferne Animal Sanctuary

Ferne Animal Sanctuary is a renowned rescue centre and sanctuary near Chard in Somerset. It’s a charitable organization that has been operating since the 1940s, dedicated to the rescue and rehoming of a variety of animals, including domestic pets and farm animals.

They take in animals that have been abandoned, mistreated, or are in need of a new home for various reasons. They provide a safe haven for these animals and work on their rehabilitation before finding them loving “forever homes”. The sanctuary is open to visitors, offering an educational and enjoyable experience for people of all ages. Visitors can meet and learn about the animals, enjoy child-focused walking trails, and participate in various events and activities.

Lovely for families with young children.

Axe Valley Wildlife Park

Peacock in full display at Axe Valley Wildlife Park (Image: Maria Thorne)

This is a real favourite with us. A wonderful little zoo with a conscience. The chickens, peacocks and other birds roaming the zoo freely are charming. Their interactive sessions are particularly worth experiencing and you can even book a ‘Keeper for the Day’ experience for a special gift.

Dartmoor Zoo

Made famous by the book and film “We Bought a Zoo,” this park is located on the edge of Dartmoor. They’ve just welcomed a new Amur Leopard (opens Facebook video), called Fredo, who arrived mid-November as part of a global conservation effort to preserve these very endangered big cats. The zoo has a diverse range of animals and focuses on wildlife conservation and education.

The Donkey Sanctuary

This beloved sanctuary near Sidmouth has provided a home to rescued donkeys for decades. It’s a lovely place to visit, especially for those who adore these gentle animals. They’ve fairly recently upgraded their shop and restaurant. The food served is, local, fresh and delicious and you can enjoy it along with fabulous views down towards the coast. It’s free to enter (donations are welcome).

Donkeys in the sun at the Donkey Sanctuary (Maria Thorne)

Wildwood Escot

Wildwood is an adventure park and conservation centre located in Devon, England. It’s situated within the grounds of Escot House, which boasts beautiful gardens and woodlands. Visitors can experience close encounters with various British wildlife, including otters, lynx, wild boar, red squirrels, and birds of prey. The park has natural enclosures that mimic the animals’ natural habitats. Wildwood often hosts seasonal events, workshops, and demonstrations related to wildlife conservation, crafts, and outdoor activities. They also have a fabulous adventure play area.

Play area and bird encounters at Wildwood Escot (Maria Thorne)

Exmoor Zoo

This zoo near Barnstaple specializes in smaller and some endangered species. It houses a diverse range of animals, including mammals, birds, reptiles, and invertebrates. Whilst it might not be as large as some other zoos, it offers an intimate setting, allowing visitors to get closer to the animals.

Tree porcupine baby at Exmoor Zoo (Maria Thorne)

Alpaca Walking

Image by Marcel Langthim from Pixabay

Alpaca trekking as become quite popular recently.  Bearhouse Alpacas in South Molton offer alpaca walking experiences through beautiful countryside trails. They provide guided treks and opportunities to interact with and learn about these charming animals.

Wildlife at Forest Glade

Finally, we’re very privileged to have many animal visitors here at the park. In addition to the varied and special bird life, we also have regular sightings of majestic deer, snuffling hedgehogs and agile squirrels. The woods surrounding us are a haven for a wide range of wildlife.

Hedgehogs are mostly nocturnal, but can sometimes venture out in daytime, especially after rain.
You can easily spot the tracks of roe deer on muddy woodland paths.
Coming to England from North America in the C19th, grey squirrels are now one of Britain’s most well-known and frequently seen mammals.