We received tickets for Battersea Park Zoo which needed to be used by mid-January – the weather isn’t getting warmer so after a bit of pondering we chose today to make our trip. I tell you what, it was freezing. Bloody freezing. So this review, rather than just being our usual ‘been here, done this, can do that’ is more of a ‘when you want to go somewhere and the weather is rubbish, can you still have fun?’
The answer is definitely “Yes!”. Especially if you’re H. We’ve not been to Battersea Park Zoo since April 2011 – so H was one and a half, but won’t remember a thing – also when we went it was beautiful weather. Today was the opposite; it was cold. Very very cold. All the way there all three of us changed our minds about going, it was that cold. We kept going, and after a brisk walk (as Battersea Park Zoo isn’t that close to any public transport other than buses on the bridge roads either side of it) we made it – where we needed to warm up.
If you’ve ever been to Battersea Park Zoo, most of it is out in the open. There’s no indoor soft play for shelter so it probably wouldn’t be an obvious place to go when it’s cold – and in fact there were only three or four other groups of families there. However, that meant we could get loads done and see everything, so that was in our favour! Firstly, we made our way to the toilets, where there’s a really nice warm feeding room for mum and baby, and luckily for us it was empty so we were all able to warm up and get jumpers, hats and gloves on. Actually, facility wise I was impressed how much there is for families, as so many places seem to forget about that.
Do you know what animals they have at Battersea Zoo? Sure, there’s no lions, tigers or bears, but you’ve still got monkeys, two parrots who’ll talk back to you (they didn’t to us though), lots of mice and snakes, meerkats, otters, pigs (Piggle and Wiggle), emus (Ant and Dec), donkeys and a lovely Shetland Pony called Bianca (who H loved). There are loads more, and they’re well spaced out in the area so make sure you’ve got your walking shoes on (and look out for loads of numbers, letters and animals painted on the walkways, they’re a fun distraction if your child decides they’re tired).
The biggest attraction has to be the play area. There’s a small toddler area, as well as a bigger one for older kids (perfect for H right now) and an even bigger one for the really big kids. Oh, and two weatherproof trampolines – which aren’t really trampolines but you know what? You stand on them and you bounce, so that’s trampoline enough as far as I’m concerned.
Within that area is an old disused Fire Engine – we couldn’t get H off it, she loved it – there’s a few firemen hats and all you can do in there is sit, steer the wheel and let your imagination take over – which H did (it was funny, we got a “phew, that was a tricky one!” about an imaginary incident she’d been to – extra bonus, it’s out of the cold too). We had to ask her nicely to try some other toys as well as a few other bits that were around – including a tractor which looked pretty fun to sit on.
For me, the best moment came when we found an indoor area which had been converted into a wall of blackboard – complete with a hay bale in the middle and loads of chalk in it. H went straight to it and – much to my surprise – wrote her name on there! It was another small area but away from chilly winds and there was enough to colour in and do.
Refreshment-wise, everything was closed, as you might expect on a cold November day, so make sure you take plenty of change. We found vending machine coffees to be £2, general rides were 50p a time (there’s a few around the park), and there’s also a vending machine for snacks. We didn’t have much change with us and I didn’t spot any cash machines nearby.
It was cold, but there were places to shelter. Essentially Battersea Park Zoo is a bit like a City Farm, so you’re not going to find a lot – but we didn’t get cold and were able to keep warm. I’d say if you bought tickets in advance for this but then were worried about the weather, that it’s still worth doing – there’s enough to keep you busy (and warm) without being miserable.
There’s also the option at the end to adopt an animal – starting from £10 for six months. We once adopted a duck for H at the London Wetlands Centre a year and a bit ago, so it’s definitely something we’d consider.
Battersea Park Zoo is open all year round, and currently from 9 until 4.30 – please check their website for details.
We received free tickets to review the Zoo, this is our entry for the Tots 100/Moneysupermarket Best Days Out competition, all opinions are our own.