Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens

2467 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


Review type

Things to do


Date of travel


Product name

Product country

Product city

Travelled with

Adult family

Reasons for trip

As the only zoo in Oxfordshire, we had visited The Cotswold Wildlife Park several times, but this visit was a little different. That is because on Wednesday we accompanied someone who had been given, as a birthday present, the chance to be a zookeeper for the day.

Many zoos nowadays are trying to raise extra funds by offering more diverse experiences, and one of the most unique is to shadow a zookeeper. During the experience, recipients can feed, stroke and even clear up after a range of animals and are allowed far closer proximity than is normally permissible.

The recipient has exclusive access to the keepers as this is a one-to-one experience. Her boyfriend was allowed to accompany her and got a free entry into the zoo but could not feed the animals. Other family members visit the zoo in the normal way with plenty of opportunities to meet up with the couple and take pictures or join them for lunch.

Zookeepers have to start work at 6am but the birthday girl was allowed to arrive at a more acceptable 9 o'clock. Met by one keeper, she was whisked off to the children's farm where she mucked out the goats before moving on to feed lemurs, penguins and meercats. She was shown the fruit preparation room and took out buckets of food to throw to the various animals inside their pens. At one stage, she could be seen sitting on a rock surrounded by a group of ringtail lemurs playing round her feet like any family of domestic cats.

There was meant to be a tea break but with so much chatter and excitement she was late in the staff room and her tea was too hot to drink before she had to leave and be handed over to the reptile house keeper. As a snake and lizard owner herself – and the main reason this zoo was chosen, as some do not include reptiles in the experience – she received a great deal of valuable advice that she could later put into practice, and was taken to the innermost sanctum – the breeding rooms – to find out how things are done professionally.

The day covers lunch and so she had a voucher for her free chicken and chips. After the meal, she went off to feed the giraffes their tree branches; pass skewers of meat to the lions and pat a rhinoceros through the heavy bars.

Whenever there was a pen containing non-dangerous animals, she was able to enter and get to meet the inhabitants such as the giant tortoise, and she could also go behind the scenes of enclosures including the bat house and the red pandas. With each keeper a font of animal wisdom, she learned a tremendous amount during the day, including how the very kind and friendly staff all managed to get such sought-after positions.

Her September visit was well timed as all the baby animals were old enough to be up and about and the large mammals were out all day, so mucking out was at a minimum!

The day ended at 4.30pm with the gift of a goody bag containing souvenirs and even a voucher enabling her to adopt an animal.

This is not a cheap gift, as zookeeping experience days cost between £100 and £200 but you could never get this close to wild animals in any other way.

Silver Travel Advisor

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.