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“variable experience”

Dartmoor Zoological Park
Ranked #1 of 1 things to do in Sparkwell
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Small friendly wildlife park/zoo on edge of Dartmoor featured on BBC TV series and the home of Hollywood movie, We Bought A Zoo starring Matt Damon.
Level Contributor
122 reviews
93 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 81 helpful votes
“variable experience”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 5, 2014

I visited today with my disabled sister and her family, having pre-booked a mobility scooter for 11am. We eventually got it at 11.25, which meant the others were hanging around outside the restaurant wandering where we were. We had also been charged full price at the entrance kiosk for my sister, although the website gives a reduced price. We did eventually get this price difference refunded when we queried it with the staff member who brought out the scooter.

Once we actually got going round the site, we enjoyed seeing all the animals close up (those that were visible anyway!) I was particularly thrilled to see the bears, wolves and tigers so close.

My sister did find it difficult on the mobility scooter, as the paths are very rough in places - maybe because of damage from the winter weather? Also, some of the paths were dead ends with not much room to turn the scooter round. It's not really an attaction I would recommend for disabled visitors - it's a hilly site, so would be difficult for manual wheelchairs too, and there are very few seats around apart from the picnic area, which was over-subscibed today!

There were several staff and volunteers around, who seemed very enthusiastic and knowledgeable - and happy to stop their work to chat, and we enjoyed the otter feeding talk. We did think it would be an idea to have the times of the talks at the appropriate locations as well as at the restaurant entrance, which is not visited by everyone when they arrive.

We were there for nearly three hours, including a picnic lunch stop.

Visited May 2014
Thank Wendy E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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990 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
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English first
Level Contributor
19 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“Nice little zoo with great staff”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 4, 2014

This is only a small zoo, but it works hard to make the most of what it has. On our visit, we were greeted by a charming and knowledgeable student who made us feel as though we were getting our own personal tour guide. The lion feeding was exciting, and we were able to get up close. All the staff were delightful and eager to share their knowledge. The setting is lovely with beautiful and far ranging views and it's evident that the zoo also creates a great environment for our own natural flora and fauna too. Maybe the restaurant could be a little cheaper and certainly a little faster to serve (half an hour for some simple snacks is a long time to wait when you have a hungry 5 year old!) but overall, this didn't detract from the experience. Please don't be expecting something on a par with San Diego or London Zoo - this isn't that and it's not pretending to be that; instead, enjoy a sweet little zoo that works hard to educate and to give something back to the local community. On that level it achieves what it sets out to do and very nicely too.

Visited April 2014
Thank NirvanaDevonmaid
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bristol, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“brilliant day out”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 2, 2014

Went on a meet the tigers experience for my husbands 50th birthday. It was brilliant, lovely day, experience was perfect for him and lunch in the restaurant was good. The only probelm was the grandaughter wanted me to take her back a baby merkat which I thought better of. Would recommend everyone to go to this zoo, even though everyone I speka to say we didn't know Dartmoor had a zoo!!

Visited April 2014
Thank wendy w
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Plymouth, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
35 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
“Hard to review as a zoo . Few hours in a park ?”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 30, 2014

Before I start I need to look into what defines a place to be called a zoo. Compared to Bristol / Paignton this is NOT a zoo.
We last visited around 6/7 years ago and nothing seems to have changed .
I don't want to be too harsh but was it worth a second visit ? The answer would have to be NO!
We arrived dead on opening time (10am) and wandered around .
There was a distinct lack of staff we only came across one that was very knowledgable when discussing the monkeys (2) and the boys found it very interesting.
The animals looked bored and the enclosures look very tired.
It's was also noted that there was a lot of litter around the place . A quick early morning tidy up would be beneficial.
The bird of preys looked like they were line up for another day tied up on a short leash to be glared at. It looked cruel .
After being sat down for a cuppa we were approached by a member of staff ( which seemed plentiful whilst spending money) didn't really ask us how our experience was for the day just went straight in and ask do we want a annual membership ! We politely declined .

My boys asked before we left to re visit the monkeys ! When we arrived we chatted to a female member of staff which again was very helpful and knowledgable . I quizzed her about the lack of staff and she stated that there should be a member of staff at each area to enhance our knowledge of the animals. I explained we arrived at 10am and she stated that more than likely they would of been carrying out various daily duties !!!
What is the point of that ! Either open later or carry out there duties earlier !

As I said I didn't want to be to harsh as my boys 6/9 enjoyed themselves as a fun few hours in a park it was good time for them . It could of been so so much better .

Visited April 2014
1 Thank whomenoway
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
3 reviews
“Lovely Family Zoo”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 30, 2014

Well kept zoo with lovely family feeling and great places for children to run and enjoy themselves. Very helpful volunteers walk around with the visitors as well as very informative zoo talks and an Close Encounters experience to see and feel some of the turtles, lizards etc.

Meerkats and babies were adorable. Tigers were also great to watch. Good restaurant and lucky enough to chat to Benjamin Mee also.

Great day out in a lovely location.

Visited April 2014
Thank Vicki S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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