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Drusillas Zoo

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Drusillas Zoo

Address Alferton
Telephone 01323 874100
How to Find it: Drusillas is situated just off the A27 near Alfriston. We are approximately 6 miles from Eastbourne and 15 miles from Brighton. Despite numerous requests to the Highways Agency, there is a shortage of brown directional tourist signs, so please follow signs to Alfriston. We are located on Alfriston Road which is just off the A27. Click on Multimap.com for our precise location.
Open: Opening Times - Drusillas is open every day of the year except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Summer opening is from 10am with last admissions at 5pm. Winter opening is from 10am with last admissions at 4pm
Prices:
Area: 5 hectares / 12 acres
No of Species No of Animals Star Rating
Mammals 39 150 Conservation
Birds 48 143 Enclosures
Reptiles 10 56 Education
Amphibians 4 17 Recreation
Fish 1 1 Research
Total 102 367
Click here for a Link to the Zoo's own Web Pages
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This critique last updated:  Dec 2010


Official Description

Visitor Reviews

Review By Marc Whitcombe April 2006

Drusillas is quite a small zoo, without any really big name or large species that would normally be one of the main draws of a larger zoo. This doesn’t mean it’s not worth a visit though.


It may only have some of the smaller animals, but it’s done a great job of presenting them. It feels as though an effort has been made to show a lot of the animals in a naturalistic environment. All the animals we saw seemed happy and well looked after.


What really striked me about this zoo is the effort made to educate and cater for toddlers and young children.


Not only are there fun activities such as slides and devices to measure how fast you can run, or how loud you can shout compared to different animals, there are some nice chances to get closer to the animals. This includes walking through the fruit bat enclosure, and a tunnel you can crawl through to get a close up view from within the meerkat enclosure.

There are lots of other educational points, with facts on most of the animals. There’s also a nice idea where they’ve built a pet house where people can learn about the various types of exotic pets available, including how much they cost, and how difficult they are to look after.


Overall I’d say this is a well thought out and fun zoo that despite the lack of big animals still merits a visit.

GoodZoos.com Reviews

Drusillas Zoo Park is the smallest Good Zoo in this guide. With a reported area of 5 hectares (about 12 acres) it should be the same size as Bristol Zoo, but this includes the ‘zoo village’ as well, and the space occupied by the animal collection is really no more than five acres. Smallness, however, is almost a virtue here, and Drusillas has progressed from promoting itself as ‘The Best Small Zoo in the South’ to claiming now to be ‘Probably the Best Small Zoo in the Country’. Drusillas is also one of the oldest Good Zoos in this guide. It was opened as a Tea Cottage and Pet’s Corner by Captain Ann in 1923 which makes it the same age as Paignton Zoo, and older than Chester, Whipsnade, and just about all of the estate zoos in the country. Today the zoo is run by the founder’s son Michael Ann, and while it is now a Zoo Park with a whole collection of exotic animals, yet it still retains the ambience of the Tea Cottage and Pet’s Corner it once was.
 
‘We want Drusillas to be a child’s first zoo,’ says Michael Ann, and with that aim in mind the whole emphasis of the zoo is upon learning, and the target audience is quite clearly not the adult visitor, but the child. The scale of the zoo is small, not simply in land area, but also in the size of animals in the collection. There are no large cats, but there are small cats (serval); there are no large primates, but there are small ones — lemurs, marmosets, tamarins, capuchins, and vervet monkeys. The space in the zoo has been used well, so that most enclosures are a fair size by comparison with other zoos that keep the same animals, but the pathways and public spaces have been proportionately reduced. Many of the enclosures have plainly been designed for best effect from a child’s eye view, and there is plenty for young children to look at and do. 

A walk around the zoo begins with an innovative ‘Life on Earth’ display, a combination of natural-history-museum type exhibits, and live animals that unfold the story of evolution. There is an ominously smoking volcano, and a collection of fish, amphibians and reptiles here, and behind the crocodiles looms the model head of a triceratops. 

Other attractions for children include the children’s farm with some very tame animals, a classroom and discovery centre inside an old double-decker bus, a rainforest display where children can write their feelings about forest destruction on a blackboard, and a superb adventure playground and train ride. 

Many of the animal enclosures at Drusillas share a common design concept which is virtually unique to this zoo. Instead of a wire or glass barrier, they are constructed like enclosed stockades of pine, open to the sky, or roofed (where appropriate) with wire. Visitors look in through glass windows. This creates the curious impression of looking out upon the animals, almost as if it were the visitors who were enclosed, and the animals at liberty. It is a very effective technique, used at its best with the new monkey mountain sanctuary. Big shop-windows, set into pine walls, look into a carefully landscaped compound, home to perhaps a dozen little squirrel monkeys. It is a fine example of the way that Drusillas has taken a group of animals that might elsewhere have been housed in a dull wire cage, and presented them in an interesting and naturalistic setting. Another, still more imaginative enclosure, is the meerkat mound. Meerkats are delightful little dark eyed burrowing mongooses from the Kalahari. notable for their unique social structure, and the selfless, apparently altruistic way in which senior members of the group will stand on guard duty while the rest of the group digs for grubs. Drusillas have turned their meerkat exhibit into a total educational experience. The Meet-the-Meerkat display has push-button information explaining the social group, and children can squirm through a rubber tube and emerge in a perspex dome in the middle of the meerkat mound to look at the meerkats from the perspective of their own world. 

Imagination has played its part in the creation of the World of Owls, designed like an ancient wooden barn complete with old farm tools, and home to a well housed collection of owls. There is a new penguin pool (Penguin Bay) with good underwater viewing, and a rocky beach for Humboldt’s penguins, a flamingo pool (Flamingo Lagoon) complete with an imitation hippo, and an excellent beaver compound, home to Canadian beavers. The enclosure won a UFAW (University Federation for Animal Welfare) award in 1987. Unfortunately, perhaps, great patience may be needed to spot the beavers who contrive to spend much of the time hidden.

Another new feature of the zoo, aimed almost exclusively at children, is the highly educational farmyard which features themed displays showing how much our daily lives depend upon cattle and pigs and sheep and hens. The farmyard includes, among the animals and a host of other attractions, a full size (hut artificial) milking cow named Matilda, that children can ‘milk’ into a pail. 

Otters are well displayed in a new and well landscaped otter enclosure, and the path winds out through an Australian Outback exhibit with wallabies and emus. 

On the whole, Drusillas succeeds very well in doing what it aims to do -- providing a place where children can be educated and entertained, and introduced to animals. 

Species List

 

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