f you think exotic animals, lions, tigers, giraffes, polar bears, Doncaster is not the first place you would think of.
However, since 2009, the Yorkshire Wildlife Park has been entertaining over 300,000 visitors a year with its large enclosures housing animals you usually don’t get a chance to see.
Getting to Yorkshire Wildlife Park, you are not greeted by waving flags, banners or huge colourful signs, in fact, it is very easy to drive past without realising. The only clue is two stone gate posts with animals upon them, and a sometimes easy to miss ‘Yorkshire Wildlife Park’ nailed to the perimeter fence.
As you look up the drive, it is very easy to think you are in the wrong place, in fact, it is very easy to think you made a mistake and you should have maybe gone to Chester Zoo. The drive turns into a dirt path, and finally you find yourself in the car park.
We parked up, and with printed ticket in hand, made our way to the entrance.
Again, this area was very understated, however, since we visited in the summer, there have been improvements and a whole new entrance building is now in operation.
The entrance plaza is surrounded by a café, shop and an indoor playground.
The kids were pulling away, eager to see their first animals. The first animals we came across were in Meerkat and Mongoose Mansion. A mixture of the animals, all seemingly happy together.
‘Can we go see the lions please’ came a little voice, our kids were itching to see the famous Lions.
Lion Country is only across the way from Meerkat and Mongoose Mansion, so we made our way around the two large enclosures, each equipped with plenty of space and fantastic waterfall features. The Lions were scattered around the enclosures, most of them sun bathing in the hot summer sun. They were quite fascinating just to stand and watch, not doing very much, but you do get quite close to them and you can really be impressed by the size of the animals.
Next to Lion Country we found African Plains. Another large expanse houing Zebras, Ostrich and Antelope.
The new Giraffe house was next on the map and we found that all the animals were inside, but the park provides a nice little area where you can go and see them, and the Giraffes seemed quite curious to the visitors to their home.
We now found ourselves at the top of the park, at Land of the Tigers, which is viewed from a high walkway which takes you right over to the Giant Anyeaters.
We stumbled across a large area called South America Viva, an area fenced off where you can enter and be surrounded by various small animals, but you are requested to stay to the paths to give the animals room if they felt afraid.
Mopping up the final few animals, we quickly found ourselves back at the entrance.
We had spent a good 3 hours wandering around the park, and seen all the animals, and even stopped by a talk at feeding time at the Wallaby enclosure. Our children were entertained throughout the entire visit, and we ran off the last of their energy in the indoor playgrounds, where the high quality play equipment seemed to be the highlight of the day.
Food seems a little on the expensive side, but the park have put out plenty of picnic areas for you to sit and eat your own food, and there are plenty of kiosks to grab an ice cream and drink too.
A few weeks after we visited, the park opened up a brand new enclosure, and something you really don’t see very much in the UK, a Polar Bear. Viktor the Polar Bear was brought in from Europe and another two are due at some point at the end of 2014.
Yorkshire Wildlife Park has come a long way since it first opened, and this was our second visit to the park, and we will certainly be going again, maybe not in the short term, but certainly maybe next summer.