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“What a waste of time and money”
Review of Welsh Mountain Zoo

Welsh Mountain Zoo
Ranked #2 of 44 things to do in Colwyn Bay
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: This conservation zoo has a wide range of rare and endangered animals from around the world.
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Activities for older children
Reviewed September 30, 2013

Our little family of four did not enjoy this day out at all. From the very start. The entrance had a queue on a very steep hill because the payment booth was not far enough away from gate. This was causing traffic issues and clutch control problems.
After paying and receiving a map, we parked. We were greeted by the first of many announcements over a public address system; it gave directions to a location of a bird display coming up. The bird show was very very very informative, perhaps a little too much so and was given over a very loud public address system the presenters barely pausing for breath over what seemed like half an hour.
We were invited then to join to sea lion display. I consulted the map, it had a path marked in red, this was for people with push chairs and wheel chair users, claiming that up to 70% of the zoo is visible from these paths. So immediately we had just lost 30% of the zoo!!! We headed to the sea lions on the path marked on the map and this turn out to be a very steep grass hill, and when we got to it, the map further suggested a route down to pool sides which had viewing windows, this was wrong also it was steps so we had to carry our buggy down. It was only when we got to the bottom we found an alternate ramped route out the other side which led us back to the car park again. Quite a long walk around from where we started at the bird display. The sea lion display was again more very loud public address shouting, by this time I was thinking it should be done by means of individual smaller speakers spaced out where the crown gathers so that the volume could be controlled and not wide spread noise, I was beginning to feel for the animals having to go through this unnatural noise level every day. We did not enjoy the noise and so left the sea lion show after just 5 mins. The pathway for wheel chairs and buggies was not marked out at all in the park, this led to awful confusion as what seemed like a good path suddenly became stairs or blind ends. Some of the paths were very worrying as they had steep sides with only basic wooden fencing and no mesh wire, my two year old could have easily slip under this fence and tumbled a good 50 to 100 feet in places without stopping. It was becoming very clear that the map was inaccurate and not to scale, and the paths were unsafe and poorly maintained. We tried to find a safe route via the tiger enclosure and ended up back in the car park again. We were invited then to see the chimps display, then informed over the address system that pushchairs could not go into auditorium. So we went for a little walk and found the “walk with the Limas” enclosure we approached and found another no pushchair policy, they had a place to leave pushchairs, but for some reason it was cordoned off with hazard tape. When we go out, our pushchair like most parents is loaded with all the things required to keep children happy fed and clean, so even if the unsecured pushchair bay was free, there was no way we could leave it there. So after nearly an hour seeing very few animals on bad / unsafe pathways, incorrect maps, shouty public address systems and being barred from locations and events due to having a pushchair we decided that the welsh mountain zoo was miss sold as a family day out and decided to leave. We asked an attendant near the shop how to get a refund, They directed us to a white building, down the end of small road away from the main hub. This building did office stuff and first aid. After ringing the bell several times, we asked another attendant why no reply, they said they were on lunch. They said they would try and find someone. After a long while a young chap came and said we would have to wait half an hour or he could take our details for a refund. We agreed on the latter in good faith. He then wrote all he needed to issue a refund and took photographs of our tickets as no photo copier was available and we would not let him keep our proof of purchase, as he requested. So we set off home assured that we would receive a call within half an hour to let us know the transaction was complete.
So off we went. Quite glad to be leaving what is in my experience the worst zoo in the UK. It was little more that a dancing bear show. Nice gardens and play areas for kids and views of the sea, but small animal enclosures and sad, unglossy, repetitive behavior animals. How its stayed open 50 years is beyond me. Did we get our phone call? No, and I can’t say I was surprised. So after an hour and a half we called them back. My wife spoke to Director Chris Jackson, Instead of helping us out with the refund Mr. Jackson proceeded to grill my wife about the whole experience again and started to suggest that we had not researched the zoo well enough and that all the time the zoo has been opened no one but us had any problem with the free map. Furthermore he suggested that we had no business in coming to his zoo if we were not fit enough to push a chair. Over hearing this I had had enough and took the phone from my wife and asked Chris “what’s wrong with you?” he said “what did you say?” I repeated my question, and without another word he hung up. We phoned back and told the phone attendant what had just happened and after a while we were put in touch with the young man who had taken our details at the zoo. I said i was not impressed he just repeatedly told me to put my grievance in writing by post or email. I said “so I can get my refund” he said “no, we have a policy of no refunds” I said “Then why was i directed to your office building by two other staff and then you assured my wife after taking our details the refund would be taken care of. Why were having any conversation at all if you have a no refunds policy” the young man started to back pedal and said “I never said a refund would be given, I said I would see what Chris could do, I was not sure about the refund policy as I have only been here 5 days” So I asked what’s the point of me putting a complaint in if no refund was to be given? He said that some return free tickets could be offered, I said I never wanted to go back to the place nor would I want anyone else to and would be quite happy to say so via social media networks on the internet, he invited me to do so. I asked if I “could speak to anyone else between a rude impulsive director and a man who does not even know what hes talking about?” He barked that I should email them and hung up again. Then despite 4 further attempts to call using different phones they refused to speak and hung up. I hope they treat the animals better.
I have read other peoples experiences of this place and am pleased to find we are not the only people who struggled with the map or access. Also I have read the zoo has given refunds to others in past. The zoo does not take money from disabled chair users, put happily does from people with double or single baby buggies who will struggle and not be able to get see most of the zoo. In my opinion this should be made very clear on all the leaflets all over Wales and on their internet site. As clear as:-
Parents with pushchairs and carers of those in wheelchairs (who pay full admittance fee) will struggle on the unmarked vague pathways and will only have access to 50% of the zoo approx. The Zoo also has a strict non refund of gate ticket Policy.
Of course they never will as it will lose them money, so on they go with a dishonest routine they know most people will be too polite to complain about. I have chosen to complain as If they paid back our £21.90 as a gesture of good will, I would have let it go. But clearly the director does not know what that means. £21.90 is a lot to our on a budget family, especially as we drove 70 miles to see this place, only to be disappointed, lied to and insulted.

8  Thank Billy H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1,282 - 1,286 of 1,572 reviews

Reviewed September 29, 2013

We visited the Welsh Mountain Zoo today and what a lovely day it was. The weather was nice. It was excellent value for money. We visited the zoo about 5 years ago and this time when we returned there is lots of work being carried out with new homes for the animals. The animals are so well cared for and are happy too. We will definitely visit again. We visited with our two boys aged 23 and 15 and they thoroughly enjoyed themselves too.
Till the next time.

Thank Parkington
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 23, 2013

A day at the zoo. Always a winner. We visited the Welsh Mountain Zoo this summer, a place I hadn't been to in years. As a child growing up in North Wales, I loved this place. As an adult visiting after years of absence, I was disappointed, but mainly for the animals.

The place is quite expensive when considering its size. It also has not been renovated - in any way - for many, many years. It is almost exactly the same as when I visited in the early 1990s. The chimpanzee enclosure was a particularly depressing sight - surely, as our closest cousins, we should provide these animals with better accommodation. The 'chimpanzee show' was somewhat interesting, even with the cracked glass and miserable-looking animals. These creatures deserve better.

We visited on a very warm day. Now, I'm not a vet, but the penguins looked quite dishevelled. They didn't have any shelter and some of them seemed very sunburnt. It was actually quite depressing to see these animals like this.

I personally wouldn't return to the zoo, mainly because I don't feel that the facilities are adequate for these animals. If we must insist on keeping animals in captivity, the least we can do is provide them with a comfortable environment.

2  Thank Raydar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 22, 2013

Visits to zoos fall generally into two categories....one is where all of the animals are all well looked after and it feels their zoo home is genuinely a better place than where they were before (Monkey World in Dorset is a good example). WMZ falls into the second category where whilst the animals are well looked after the overall impression of the zoo is feeling a bit unloved with some of the animals in too small enclosures where they are forced to pace (tiger and bears in particular). Much of the zoo feels a little run down and there are a couple of shows (chimps and sealions) that are little more than a Victorian sideshow with chimps banging on a glass wall to be fed and sealions being 'trained'. Despite there being several references to 'enrichment' it felt like there was very little of this going on and many of the enclosures just felt a little too small for the animals.

In the Safari Café you are greeted by an overwhelming smell of chip fat and grease where you can choose the widest variety of chip-based meals and snacks that I have ever seen. A pre-packaged cake was out of date by several weeks and whilst this was refunded and exchanged immediately this experience added to the overall feeling that the whole of WMZ is just a little run down.

Thank TimParry
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed September 22, 2013 via mobile

7 of us visited the zoo on a short break to Llandudno. As soon as you drive in you can see brown bears and see how well kept they are, you can tell from their condition and mannerisms that they are happy in their environment! This continued throughout the penguin walk was most funny, falconry display very informative, the seals fantastic, chimps, camels, tigers, snow leopards.....and Our favourite getting up close and personal on the walk with lemurs were all fantastic! this zoo is very special and the best I've visited mainly because the animals are well kept, in excellent condition and obviously very happy!! Plus the views are brilliant! Mountains and rolling countryside and costal seaside of Colwyn Bay to the other! The homemade food in the cafe is excellent too and at a reasonable price (though drinks are a little pricey at £1.75 for a coke and £2.00ish for a hot drink) be prepared for steep pathways particularly on the woodland walk- as this is a mountain zoo!! All in all well worth a visit!! Will come again!

Thank shazzawest1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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