Which UK zoos offer behind-the-scenes tours focusing on endangered species conservation?

A zoo’s primary function is not just to provide an exciting day out for visitors. It’s also about playing a vital role in the conservation of endangered species. In recent years, many zoos across the UK have made significant strides in their efforts to save these animals from extinction. Several of these establishments offer behind-the-scenes tours where visitors can learn about how they're contributing to wildlife conservation. Today, let's explore some of the top UK zoos that give their visitors an immersive, behind-the-scenes experience focusing on endangered species conservation.

Chester Zoo, Chester, England

Nestled in the heart of England, Chester Zoo is one of the UK's largest and most popular zoos, home to a startling array of animals from all corners of the globe. The zoo has a rich history and a deep commitment to animal conservation.

One of their behind-the-scenes tours is called 'The Secret Life of the Zoo'. It allows visitors to delve into the day-to-day tasks of its team, which includes feeding the animals, cleaning their habitats, and even participating in some of the zoo's conservation programs.

Furthermore, Chester Zoo has a dedicated team of conservationists who work tirelessly to protect endangered species both in the zoo and in the wild. The zoo has several conservation initiatives that focus on species such as the Sumatran orangutan, Asian elephants, and the black rhino. The tours provide visitors with a unique insight into these efforts, showcasing how their visit helps support these valuable projects.

London Zoo, London, England

London Zoo, located in the heart of Regent's Park, is a pivotal player in the UK's conservation field. The zoo has been at the forefront of several successful conservation programs, including efforts to save the Sumatran tiger and the Asiatic lion from extinction.

London Zoo offers a behind-the-scenes experience called 'Keeper for a Day'. This tour gives visitors the chance to step into the shoes of a zookeeper, learning about various animal species and the work that goes into caring for them. It's an enlightening experience that helps guests appreciate the challenges involved in managing a zoo and preserving its inhabitants.

The zoo is also particularly dedicated to educating visitors about conservation. The tour includes visits to the zoo's veterinary hospital, where visitors can witness firsthand the level of care provided to the animals.

Jersey Zoo, Jersey, Channel Islands

Jersey Zoo, located on the largest of the Channel Islands, is not just an ordinary zoo. It's a pioneering force in species conservation, thanks to the efforts of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, which runs the zoo.

Jersey Zoo is renowned for its efforts to save endangered species and reintroduce them into the wild. The zoo has been instrumental in the survival and recovery of several species, including the Mauritius kestrel and the Sumatran orangutan.

The zoo offers the 'Durrell Wildlife Camp' experience, in which visitors can stay overnight in luxury pods within the zoo grounds. This offers a unique opportunity to witness the nocturnal habits of the animals and understand more about their behaviours.

Howletts Wild Animal Park, Canterbury, England

Howletts Wild Animal Park, located in Canterbury, England, is renowned for its commitment to animal conservation. This park is part of The Aspinall Foundation, an international conservation charity that reintroduces captive animals to the wild.

The park offers a 'Keeper Experience' day where visitors can shadow a keeper and learn about the daily routine of looking after the animals. This experience highlights the park's various conservation efforts, including breeding programs for critically endangered animals such as the Western lowland gorilla and the black rhino.

Furthermore, the park offers behind-the-scenes tours which provide visitors with the opportunity to meet and interact with some of the world's most endangered species up-close.

Twycross Zoo, Leicestershire, England

Twycross Zoo, located in Leicestershire, England, is a specialist primate zoo that has been involved in various conservation initiatives for many years.

The zoo offers a 'Keeper for a Day' experience where visitors get the chance to work alongside the keepers in caring for the animals. This includes feeding and cleaning the animals and learning more about the zoo's conservation efforts. Twycross Zoo has a particular focus on primate conservation and has been instrumental in efforts to save the bonobo, one of the world's most endangered primates.

In conclusion, these behind-the-scenes tours offer fascinating insights into the work that goes into animal conservation. The zoos highlighted here are just a few of the many across the UK that are making significant strides in protecting and preserving our planet's wildlife, demonstrating that a visit to the zoo can be both an enjoyable and educational experience.

Whipsnade Zoo, Bedfordshire, England

One of the largest wildlife parks in Europe, Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire, England, is committed to the conservation of endangered species. Run by the Zoological Society of London, the same organisation that manages London Zoo, Whipsnade is a sanctuary for a wide range of exotic animals, providing them with ample space to roam and thrive.

Whipsnade Zoo offers an experience called 'Keeper for a Day'. Similar to the program at London Zoo, this immersive experience allows visitors to step into the role of a zookeeper, learning about the daily tasks that keep the zoo running smoothly. The experience provides a deeper understanding of the zoo's conservation efforts and the crucial role they play in protecting endangered species.

In addition, the zoo has several successful breeding programs aimed at increasing the populations of endangered animals such as the Asian elephant, the Amur tiger, and the African hunting dog. Visitors on the behind-the-scenes tour will gain a unique perspective on these breeding programs, witnessing the tireless efforts of the zoo's dedicated conservationists.

Edinburgh Zoo, Edinburgh, Scotland

Notably housing the UK's only giant pandas, Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland is another leading light in the field of wildlife conservation. It's known for its innovative approaches to animal welfare and its pioneering work in the conservation of endangered species.

Edinburgh Zoo offers a 'Keeper Experience' day where visitors can work alongside the zoo's professional keepers, gaining firsthand knowledge of the daily care and management of a variety of animals. This hands-on experience provides unique insights into the zoo's ongoing conservation efforts.

Of particular interest is the zoo's work with giant pandas, one of the world's most endangered species. Visitors will learn about the strides the zoo is making in its breeding program, aiming to ensure the survival of these magnificent creatures.

The zoo also focuses on educating visitors about conservation. This includes workshops, presentations and interactive exhibits designed to raise awareness of the threats facing our planet's wildlife.


In summary, the conservation work carried out by zoos across the UK plays a vital role in the protection of endangered species worldwide. Offering behind-the-scenes tours provides visitors with an opportunity to learn about these efforts and witness the hard work that goes into animal conservation. These experiences at Chester Zoo, London Zoo, Jersey Zoo, Howletts Wild Animal Park, Twycross Zoo, Whipsnade Zoo and Edinburgh Zoo not only educate but also inspire, reminding us of the intrinsic value of the natural world and our responsibility to protect it. The fight to preserve our planet's wildlife is ongoing, but with continued education, dedication and support, we can make an impact. Visiting these zoos and taking part in their behind-the-scenes tours is one small but significant way to contribute to this important cause.