Animal attractions - Which zoos and farm parks are reopening, and how can you book?

PUBLISHED: 15:09 14 June 2020 | UPDATED: 19:04 14 June 2020

The cheetah Sia and her cub at Colchester Zoo, which is set to reopen Picture: PHIL JUDD

The cheetah Sia and her cub at Colchester Zoo, which is set to reopen Picture: PHIL JUDD


Zoos, wildlife parks and farm parks around East Anglia are preparing to welcome visitors again, after the government announced that they can reopen from June 15 onwards.

The zoo's meerkats Picture: Colchester ZooThe zoo's meerkats Picture: Colchester Zoo

Here are details of animal attractions in and around Suffolk and Essex which are set to open their doors over the coming weeks - and how to arrange your visit.

Zoos and animal parks have been facing a struggle to survive during lockdown and are eager for visitors to return, but will need to manage numbers. Most are requiring people to book online in advance to help ensure this.

Their indoor attractions and cafes will be closed, and the parks are also introducing a whole range of measures to ensure visitors’ safety.

Colchester Zoo

The zoo is reopening to the public from Thursday, June 18, following a special invitation-only pre-opening day on Wednesday, June 17.

Opening times will be from 9.30am to 6pm until July 24, with last admission to the zoo grounds at 5pm. From July 25 closing time will be at 6pm, with last admission at 5.30pm.

Banham Zoo and Africa Alive are getting ready to reopen  Photo ZSEABanham Zoo and Africa Alive are getting ready to reopen Photo ZSEA

All visitors must book a timed ticket in advance online, including those with complimentary or pre-paid tickets and Zoo Pass holders. Most tickets can be booked up to 14 days ahead, with Pass holders booking up to three days ahead.

Some areas of the zoo are temporarily closed until further notice, including Jungle Tumble and all play areas, and catering and retail outlets will close at least one hour prior to the zoo grounds.

Visitors are being advised to download the new app for the zoo, which has all the up-to-date advice about visiting, including details of which facilities are open.

Most toilets are open but a few will be closed - the app also has details of these.

MORE - Everything you need to know about Colchester Zoo reopening

Africa Alive, Kessingland

The zoo is planning to reopen from around July 1, although this opening date still needs to be definitely confirmed.

One of the big cats at Banham Zoo Picture: BANHAM ZOOOne of the big cats at Banham Zoo Picture: BANHAM ZOO

It will be open from 9am to 6pm until September 6, with last admission at 5pm.

All visitors, including season pass holders, must book online, choosing a time slot for their arrival. Bookings are being taken for right through to early January 2021. Only season pass holders can currently book for July 1-3.

Details about exactly which facilities will be available are yet to be announced.

Banham Zoo, near Diss

Like its sister attraction, Africa Alive, Banham Zoo aims to reopen from around July 1, but the opening date still needs to be definitely confirmed.

It will be open from 9am to 6pm until September 6, with last admission at 5pm.

Tapirs at Linton Zoo  Picture: LINTON ZOOTapirs at Linton Zoo Picture: LINTON ZOO

Visitors must all book online, choosing a time slot when they will arrive. Bookings are being taken until the end of the year. As with Africa Alive, season ticket holders also need to book in advance and are currently being offered the chance to book for July 1-3, with general booking from July 4.

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More details are yet to be announced about which facilities will be open.

Linton Zoo Conservation Park, Cambridgeshire

The zoo is preparing a “soft” reopening in the week starting June 22, It will announce further details via its social media feeds once it has finalised its opening days and arranged how to book.

The zoo will not be able to offer keeper experiences, animal encounters or keeper talks that encourage grouping of visitors for the time being, due to social distancing measures. For updates, search for Linton Zoo on Facebook.

Alice the Bactrian camel at Jimmy's Farm   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNAlice the Bactrian camel at Jimmy's Farm Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Jimmy’s Farm & Wildlife Park, Wherstead, Ipswich

The farm and wildlife park are reopening on June 25. Everyone needs to book in advance, including annual members.

The website will show which time slots for each day are still available for you to arrive, ranging from 10am through to 3pm.

There will be a restriction on the number of visitors per day, but time in the park is unlimited. A one-way system is being introduced, and indoor areas and the restaurant will be closed, but the Field Kitchen will be open.

For more details and to book, visit the website.

Baylham House Rare Breeds Farm, near Ipswich

The farm will reopen at 10am on Saturday, June 20, and normal opening times will then apply, from Tuesday to Sunday and on bank holidays from 10am to 5pm.

Visitors will not need to book online, as the farm owners are happy that they will be able to maintain visitor numbers safely. There will be a limited range of refreshments for take away only.

The usual animal encounters will not be offered to avoid clustering, and play equipment has been either removed or isolated. Toilets will be available.

For more details, visit @BaylhamFarm on Facebook.

Easton Farm Park, near Woodbridge

The farm park has said via its Facebook page that it is planning its reopening for July 1 for season pass holders and July 6 for general admission, but these dates still need to be confirmed.

All visitors will need to have a pre-booked entry timing.

It’s not yet possible to book and more details have still to be announced. Follow @eastonfarmpark on Facebook for updates.

Suffolk Owl Sanctuary, Stonham Barns

The sanctuary is planning to reopen in mid-July, but has not yet confirmed a date. Visitors will need to book in advance online or by phone, and the sanctuary will announce details via its website and social media feeds once the opening arrangements are finalised. Some inside spaces and play areas will be closed, and there will be a one-way system and other safety measures. For updates, follow @SuffolkOwlSanctuary on Facebook.

Suffolk Punch Trust, Hollesley

The trust has not yet announced when it plans to reopen, but it issues regular updates about its horses via its social media feeds. Follow @TheSuffolkPunchTrust on Facebook.

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