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Dudley Zoo

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Dudley Zoo

Address 2 The Broadway, Dudley
Telephone 01384 215314
How to Find it: Situated on the A461 (Castle Hill) 3 miles from M5 Junction 2
Open: Dudley Zoological Gardens & Castle Open everyday from 10.00 am (except Christmas Day) Last admission : winter 3.00 pm & summer (Easter-September) 4.00 pm N.B grounds close 60 minutes later
Prices: DAILY ADMISSION PRICES valid from January 1st 2008 Adult (inc £1 donation) £10.95* Adult (without £1 donation) £9.95* Children (3-15 yrs) £6.95 Concessions £7.50 Adult with disability/Senior Citizen/Student or Young Person (16-18 yrs) Child with Disability £5.00 Under 3s Free One Free Admission for Carer with Disabled Visitor Car Parking (all day) £3.00
Area: 19 hectares / 47 acres
No of Species No of Animals Star Rating
Mammals 63 179 Conservation
Birds 75 300 Enclosures
Reptiles 28 84 Education
Amphibians 1 3 Recreation
Fish 10 300 Research
Total 177 866
Click here for a Link to the Zoo's own Web Pages
Write a review of this zoo
This critique last updated:  Dec 2010


Official Description

Dudley is the only zoo in Britain with spectacular prehistoric remains, and Iron Age fort, a medieval castle, a limestone escarpment, and mysterious underground caverns all on the same site. There are beautiful scenic walks for energetic adults and an Adventureland where children can burn off their surplus energy.

But above everything there are the animals - more than 1,000 representing over 200 species

Visitor Reviews

Reviewed by Andrew & Jacky Higginson, October 2010

We took a large group of home educating families there yesterday and have to say how utterly brilliant it was! We have been to Chester Zoo twice but rate Dudley far more highly. There is a Monkey Zone that has Goeldis, Saki faced and Squirrel monkeys (with babies) which are able to approach you as you walk through which makes it so much more interactive and memorable. Besides this is a wallaby walk through and best of all, in my opinion, is the Lemur Wood which houses the most amazing lemurs. They actually leapt onto a few in the party to investigate whether we had treats for them. They were so gentle and inquisitive. It is a day that will never be forgotten and I vow to go there much more often from now on. The Education Officer, David Riley was second to none for his knowledge and way of presenting information in a fun manner to the mixed age group. If you haven't experienced the zoo yet, please do so. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed. There is a lot to pack into your day and the animals are well cared for. All the staff are wonderful and happy to talk to you too. An incredible place that deserves more recognition. Needless to say we will be booking another trip there in the spring. We are also going to be taking advantage of their 'Zoo Keeper for a day' experience for our 2 boys. It is incredible value for money for a lifelong memory!

Reviewed by David Lomas, September 2009

Dudley Zoological Gardens
The Dudley Zoological Gardens, or DZG as it now styles itself, is a zoo that's regained its confidence and has successfully blended its listed concrete architecture from the 1930s with the needs of a modern 21st century zoo. Nowhere is this better illustrated than the new spacious Asiatic Lion enclosure that sits below what was once the tropical bid house. This listed building has now been converted to a children's activity centre. The former lion enclosure is now home to a bachelor pack of, on the day of my visit somnolent, African Hunting Dogs.
 
There are newly constructed attractively planted aviaries and a spacious Red Panda enclosure where you really have to peer to see the pandas in their near natural habitat. The Chimpanzees now enjoy access to a large outdoor enclose with massive climbing frames, whilst the Orang-utans have taken over the 1960's Ape House completely. The Zoo's Lemur Wood is one of the best walkthrough encounters that I've experienced - it's so easy to capture on camera these species in their naturalist setting.
 
The zoo is built on a hill with a maze of pathways, some with steps, and the visitor will circle the hill a couple of times as they wind their way to the castle at the top. There's a regular road train as an alternative to this climb that then allows you to meander your way down the hill. There isn't a zoo guide and the issued map is so heavily stylised that you can't easily find the accessible routes around the Zoo. The information boards are excellent and there are Zoo Tour Guides (people rather than printed) that give insights to the zoo and its animals.
 
There's plenty to see at the DZG from Snow Leopards to Sea Lions, from Giraffes to the lively African Mongooses, from the large Boas and Pythons to the Children's Farm. However, the European Red Squirrels did seem agitated, rapidly running forwards and backwards along one side of their cages and I'd welcome a second opinion on this behaviour.
 

Review by Andrew Oakley May 2008

Dudley Zoo has continued its total revamp. The zoo had previously faced animal welfare, but this now appears to have been solved to everyone's satisfaction.

 

New for 2008, a mixed indoor-outdoor chimp enclosure allows visitors and chimps to mingle in a reasonably large space. The lemur area is similarly large and makes good use of wooded hillside.

 

Larger animals such as lions and leopards have been relocated to large enclosures, and the zoo has cleverly merged two massive enclosures to allow the tigers a huge space to roam, without destroying the beautiful 1930s architecture.

 

The zoo is built around a large medieval castle on a steep hill, and there is little room for expansion. Other than the primates and big cats, which take up all the larger areas, the zoo has wisely concentrated on smaller creatures such as reptiles, penguins, flamingoes, wallabies and smaller primates. Former large residents, notably the elephants, have been relocated to larger parks elsewhere.

The giraffes still remain in a reasonable but not generous enclosure; also the sealions have a reasonable but not expansive canal system built into the old moat of the castle.

 

A frequent - and free - land train takes visitors (including push-chairs and wheelchairs) from the entrance shop right to the top of the hill, where a massive medieval castle is all part of the entrance fee. New for 2008 is an extensive exhibition of Dudley's medieval history, built into the rooms in the wall of the castle. It is also possible to climb the spiral stairs to the top of the keep, and get spectacular views over the West Midlands - looking north-east you can even see the curvature of the Earth!

 

Toilets, including disabled and baby change facilities, are plentiful and kept to a good standard. However, many of the 1930s buildings do need renovating and most of the decor is shabby. Some building renovation work was happening whilst we visited, but it did not affect our visit. It is noticeable that money has been spent on improving the animals' welfare first, and the listed buildings second.

 

The refreshment stalls and gift shop are very reasonably priced. There is also a very clever sandpit and wooden climbing frame near the picnic area to the rear of the castle, which uses pulleys, hoists, tubes and chutes to let youngsters have possibly the best sandpit experience I've ever seen.

 

Don't be put off by reviews from ten years ago - Dudley Zoo is a great day out, animal welfare appears top of their list, and for the price of the zoo you also get a massive castle thrown in on the same ticket! It took us about 4 hours to get round most of it, although we could have easily spent 6 or 8 hours.

Review from Ryan May 2007

The Zoo has completely changed it's structure and has developed interesting environments for it's animals.  Animals such as the bears have been moved to larger more suitable areas. They realised their grounds were not suitable for the elephants who have now been moved to pastures new in a French Zoo.  The area that previously homed the elephants is now the enclosure for their chimpanzees who love rolling around in the tall grass and climbing the trees.  In the past their resources were very limited as parts of the grounds are listed and they have therefore had to do the best with what they had.  Since your last reviewers visit they have changed the management style and yes it still needs more work but the investment so far has ensured the animals live far happier and healthier lives.  They are receiving more investment shortly which will again allow them to build upon their good work and improve the castle and its surrounding areas. 

 

There's also greater interactivity for the visitors including lemur wood where you can walk amongst the lemurs, wallaby walk - yes you guessed it - you can walk amongst the wallabies and even a monkey jungle where you can see spiders monkeys and marmosets jumping about the foliage above you as you walk through their former tropical greenhouse.  They have keeper for a day sessions where visitors get to work closely with a keeper in a selection of options. 

 

The Zoo is utilising it's history better with fascinating and educational tours of the castle, it's grounds and even a ghost hunt.  They were recently featured on Most Haunted Live and had Yvette Fielding running around their castle souvenir shop screaming (just for a change!)

 

The staff are also wonderfully helpful and care about the animals and customers.  They have improved their communication with the customers with regular updates on their website and in Zoonews. 

 

"Dr Dudlley" is very popular with visiting children and he makes learning interesting the presenter who plays him is responsible for a lot of feeding time and educational talks at the Zoo and ensures the day is an educational aswell as fun day.  The Zoo is trying to improve and I was impressed that at the end of our ghost hunt "Dr Dudley" asked all the visitors to email or write with feedback so they could improve their services further.

 

The Zoo is involved in many successful captivity programmes and takes conservation issues very seriously.  It works in partnership with other zoos all over the world.

 

I understand your last viewers comments and I too have been critical of them in the past (around 10 years ago) but the Zoo has transformed itself with very limited resources.  I'm glad to see such enthusiasm amongst it's staff and will continue to go back on a semi regular basis. 

 

Review posted by Joanne Osborne: August 2000
I was not overly impressed with Dudley Zoo, after visiting Drussilas in East Sussex, and Howletts in Kent in the previous two weeks. My first impression was the town of Dudley, with its busy high street, including run down bingo halls, clubs and bars. The seedy  appearance was rather off putting. Not to mention the litter on the street outside the zoo.

The big car park, where a £1 charge was compulsory, was not tarmaced, and the attendant was off duty at the time, so things were looking bad...by this time me and my boyfriend were thinking of turning back, and going to the safari park just outside Kidderminster.
The entrance cost was suprising low, considering that Howletts was £9 ( but well worth it), only just over £6 to get into Dudley. Just a short walk through the shop, and we were in the zoo itself. This was quite a shock as viewing our first enclosure, The Flamingos, we could just have well of been still standing on the busy pavement outside, as buses and motorbikes roared by.  The Flamingos didn't seem to mind however.  The pond was an average size with a water fall, would have been nice to see them in a lake.

Further on were some rather sad looking owls.   The main attraction was the bears; there were 3 altogether, and had a typical un natuaral surrounds, eg concrete high walls, with no greenery.  One paced up and down, while two were fighting.
The tigers were also in a similar un natural environment, which was quite shocking for such lovely creatures, as at Howletts the large animals had considerably larger enclosures with grass all around, trees to hide under, large platforms to climb up and lay on to of etc.
I found this is what made me think of the zoos I had been to in the 70's and 80's....this zoo had not changed in time. It was like steping in to a time warp.  I compared this zoo with Paignton also, where it was enjoyable to see animals at ease, this is a zoo that with funding has moved on considerably with time.

I could not say that any of the features were positive in any way.

I mentioned that the place should be closed down, and reopened in a more spacious area, rather than repairing or bothing up what was there.  The largest animal the elephant must of had the smallest enclosure, although I told a newer better one was being build. The tropical greenhouse was closed. This was in peak season! The zoo seemed to make it's profits from the tacky burger bars,and kids fun fair. I was very disappointed indeed.
I would gladly write a more positive review for Paignton Zoo or Drusillas 
which I found were places I could have stayed in from dawn to dusk.

I was in Dudley Zoo for 1 and half hours.  I was so saddened by what I saw.

GoodZoos.com Reviews

The town of Dudley lies to the West of Birmingham and to the South of Wolverhampton in the heart of the ‘Black Country’, once the industrial heartland of Britain. In the centre of town rises a high round hill, topped by the ruins of a 13th century castle, and all around the castle on the slopes of the hill lies Dudley Zoo. 

It is a strange and rather grandiose setting for a zoo; and unlike other hilly zoos, such as Edinburgh, Dudley Zoo occupies the entire hill. For the energetic visitor there is a recommended route that follows a long spiral right round the hill, climbing slowly upwards towards the castle. The less energetic visitor might choose to take advantage of a short chair-lift ride from the main entrance to a spot halfway up, after which most of the zoo is downhill. There is also a free land-train ride from the zoo gates to the castle so visitors can start their day at the centre (and at the top) of the zoo.

Stepping from the streets of Dudley onto the tarmac pathways of the zoo, you might be surprised how green the whole place is. Much of the zoo seems to be under a dense canopy of trees. The climb takes you up past a wide variety of animals, beginning with a beautiful group of salmon-pink flamingos in a crystal clear pool, and several well planted aviaries. Among the best exhibits at this part of the zoo are the spotted hyenas— in a very good large enclosure, but viewed unusually from above, and giraffe in a clean paddock with a light airy house. There is a lovely herd of Barbary sheep in a terraced paddock, a herd of delicate Arabian gazelle — an endangered species which Dudley Zoo was the first to keep — and fallow deer in a large, steep but treeless field. 

There are two African elephants, with an adequate although not large outside paddock, and slightly small and dark inside accommodation. 

One individual and novel idea at Dudley is a wildfowl walk, half way along the recommended route. This takes the visitor on a winding nature trail past open wildfowl enclosures that each exhibit birds from a different continent. The setting for this is heavily wooded: the trees are all old and well established, and the walk is criss-crossed with streams, and well provided with picnic tables. The view at one point across to a limestone Cavern could make you believe you were in the peak district, instead of in the heart of an industrial city. 

There is a children’s corner with a few popular favourites. but with no cont t area. The reptile house has several huge pythons and a few venomous snakes: there is a small invertebrate house, and a farmyard. Also, at the foot of the hill are a few fairground rides, and a trainride through the woods. On the walk around the zoo are penguins, lions in a big grassy enclosure, maras in a large hillside area, tapirs, peccaries and zebras. 

One impressive and optimistic new, glass-fronted enclosure takes in a swathe of hillside with an artificial stream. It houses a delightful pair of Asian short clawed otters. This enclosure was the joint winner of the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare Award in 1991. 

The monkey house is imaginative with good high outside enclosures, well branched, with patas monkeys, lar gibbons, cotton topped tamarins and grivet monkeys, among others. The house is attractively built, mainly of wood. But if one thing can be said to spoil Dudley Zoo, then perhaps it is that other building material, concrete. How marvellous this all-purpose building material must have seemed to the zoo designers of the forties and fifties, and now at so many zoos the result of their designs. the concrete edifices of yester-year, still stand like monumental follies, supremely unsuited to the accommodation of wild creatures. Old concrete has a habit of looking its age, of growing damp, crumbling, and shedding flakes of paint. Dudley Zoo has a sad case of excess concrete, and the problem is worse because many of the concrete houses are now listed buildings, and the zoo could not legally demolish them if it wanted. Sometimes the concrete does its job reasonably well. The bear pit is better than most, and the Himalayan bears that occupy it have a high sloping back wall that provides them with a vantage point from which to look out. The enclosure takes in the old polar bear pit, once one of the less attractive parts of Dudley Zoo, but now quite an acceptable annex for the black and white Himalayan bears. The Patagonian sealions have a large but boring concrete pool. 

Rather worse is the accommodation for the apes — the chimpanzees. orang-utans and a single male gorilla. Inside, the dens are small, basic, and functional: outside, the yards are disappointing. They are small and entirely concrete with a few token posts or rubber tyres, although some new climbing facilities have recently been added. It is, however, an inadequate exhibit, and the apes all look bored. 

It would be a shame if the few rather disappointing enclosures threatened to spoil the reputation of this zoo, because otherwise the impression at Dudley is of animals well kept and well cared for. Certainly this must rank as one of the cleanest zoos that we visited. Every enclosure is kept spotlessly clean, raked, brushed, and washed. 

The climax of the visit to Dudley Zoo is the castle and the ruins of the Tudor Manor. Fifty two spiral steps lead to the top of the keep from where there is an astonishing view across the industrial West Midlands to the East, and the rolling hills of Wales to the West. A lot of money is being spent renovating the buildings which represent a fascinating attraction to visitors in their own right, If this spending is matched by appropriate spending on the animal collection, sweeping away the worst excesses of the post-war designers, and if some money is spent upon improving the visitor facilities including the rather derelict car park and the drab entrance way, then Dudley will be well on the way towards becoming a very good zoo. 

Species List



 

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