ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s camping experience has been running for a few years now, but for 2021 they’ve tied it in with their freshly unveiled Zoorassic Park exhibit – making it ideal for both dinosaur and animal lovers. Here’s our top reasons why the Snorassic Sleepover is officially the coolest camp out for families this year:
5 Reasons Why ZSL Whipsnade Zoo Makes a Roarsome Sleepover
1.This is a Once in a Lifetime Sleepover
How many people can say that they’ve bedded down for the night in a working zoo? You and your family can now join the lucky few, with ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s Snorassic Sleepovers, running on select Friday and Saturday nights until the autumn.
The really wild camping experience starts in the early evening, with the pitching up of tents on a patch of grass in the centre of the zoo. Note that this is camping rather than glamping, so you’ll need to bring your own tent and kit, and it’s just for children aged five years and above. The car park and toilet block are just next to the site for easy access.
Once you’ve hammered in the final tent peg, it’s time to tuck into your evening picnic, before your group of happy campers embark on a torchlight expedition of the zoo to discover who is still wide-awake. To be given exclusive access to the zoo at night is a truly magical and exhilarating experience, and the helpful guides are on hand to answer all your family’s zoological questions. Highlights include seeing the majestic lions snoozing and discovering how flamingos gain their fabulous pink feathers. The evening is concluded with a private tour of the new Zoorassic Park exhibit, which is particularly dramatic at night, before retreating back to the tents to sleep out under canvas.
Rising early the next morning to the sound of birdsong (this is camping, after all!), there’s breakfast at the onsite café and a pre-opening tour of the enclosures to discover how the animals start their day.
Once the zoo throws open its gates to the public, you’ll be cut loose to explore for the rest of the day, secure in the knowledge that you’ve got the insider scoop on what goes on behind the scenes as night falls. If camping isn’t your thing, the zoo also has eight little Lookout Lodge wooden cabins with readymade beds, a shower block and toasty heater.
Top Tip: Pack a copy of Judith Kerr’s classic book One Night in the Zoo, which is all about the night time shenanigans at a zoo, to get younger campers in the mood for your visit.
2. You’ll get Really Up Close and Personal with the Animals
Don’t be surprised if you unzip your tent in the morning to come face to face with a hairy Mara (a kind of giant guinea pig) or spot a wallaby joyfully bouncing past!
ZSL Whipsnade Zoo has a couple of free roaming species including their Bennett’s wallabies, which originate from Australia. After a few escaped their enclosure, the wallabies now have free rein of the zoo and seem totally unfazed by enthusiastic young admirers. Campers are advised not to leave food outside their tents, as it can attract hoards of the free spirited visitors!
3. Camping at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is a Good Value Staycation
The Snorassic Sleepover costs £60 per adult and £55 per child, with a 10% discount for ZSL gold members and patrons.
When you factor in that the camp out includes free entry to the zoo on the following day (standard adult is usually £30, children £19.50), plus two guided tours, breakfast and exclusive access to the zoo, then this sleepover starts to look like a great value staycation option! Plus, the evening meal is a bring-your-own picnic, so you’ll also save on restaurant costs too.
4. Add in Amazing Animal Experiences
Fancy making your visit extra special? Then add one of ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s many meet-and-greet animal experiences to your visit.
Kids can go behind the scenes with the big tusks and feed the Asian elephants (£99), reach up high to serve the giraffes a leafy lunch (£54) or for brave adventurers aged over 12 years and over there’s either meeting the pride of African lions (£84) or the beautiful Amur tigers (£84).
If you’re looking for a longer zoology session, children over 16 can join the keeper for the day experience for a taster session of zoo life (£170). On certain days throughout the year, 5-7 year olds can spend a hands-on day at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s explorers course. Or for animal-loving children aged 8-10 years, there’s the two-day junior zoo academy featuring fun games and lots of mucking in with tasks around the zoo.
5. The Snorassic Sleepover is Ideal for Dino-Mad Kids
Base camp for the night is situated just next to the zoo’s awesome new Zoorassic Park exhibit, filled with super-sized, moving animatronic dinosaurs. You’ll drift off to sleep to the sound of T Rex roaring and awake to Brontosaurus poking its head over the wall.
The camp out includes a torch lit night time tour and you’ll be free to explore the exhibit again the following day by daylight, where youngsters can dig for fossils in the excavation pit. There’s also an area where kids can drive outrageously cute miniature safari cars around a racetrack. ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s Zoorassic Park exhibit is the perfect place to bring Jurassic-loving children this summer.