What is the best zoo in Cumbria?

Becky blog author avanti social team

By the Avanti Web Team

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4 mins read | 1st Published - May 26, 2023. Updated - 28th May 2024


If you’re an animal lover visiting Cumbria, you're in for a treat. The Lake District has many animal attractions that promise a fun day out for the whole family. 

At Cumbria’s zoos and aquariums, you can get as close as physically possible to some of the world's rarest and most endangered animals. You can even do a safari in Cumbria!

You’ll also be able to learn about these organisations’ conservation efforts and take part in care and feeding experiences.  

What’s more, visitors can get to zoos and wildlife parks in Cumbria from all over the UK by rail, making them the ideal destination for a short break or family train holiday

Here’s a rundown of the best animal attractions in the region and how to get there by train. 

1. South Lakes Safari Zoo

A closeup shot of a peacock at Cumbria Safari Zoo.

One of the most popular zoos in Cumbria is South Lakes Safari Zoo, located near Dalton-in-Furness. It is one of the most popular zoos in Cumbria, spread over 50 acres and home to over 1,000 animals and 120 different species. 

Visitors can get up close and personal with animals from all over the world. The safari zoo is home to Sumatran tigers, Andean bears, African lions, and much more.

They also offer several Animal Encounters, in which you can get even closer to the animals. Some experiences allow visitors to hand-feed the zoo’s inhabitants, including the lemurs and giraffes. 

The zoo also runs educational talks and feeding demonstrations. This makes it an excellent place for children to learn about animal behaviour and conservation.

Visiting South Lakes Safari Zoo:

  • Address: Melton Terrace, Lindal in Furness, Ulverston, LA12 0LU

  • Opening: South Lakes Safari Zoo changes its opening times throughout the year.

    Between 29th March and 27th October, it is open seven days a week between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm. Last admission is at 2:45 pm. Between 8th January and 29th March, as well as between 27th October and 31st December, it is closed Monday and Tuesday, and open between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm Wednesday to Sunday. It is also closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

  • Getting there by train: Get the train to Dalton Station, then take bus X6 or 6 to the ‘South Lakes Wild Animal Park’ bus stop. The Safari Zoo is a five-minute walk from there.

The journey from London Euston to Dalton typically takes just under four hours.

2. Lake District Wildlife Park

A closeup of a lemur baby on its mother's back.

Another excellent Cumbrian zoo is the Lake District Wildlife Park near Keswick. The park is set across 24 acres and houses more than 100 species of wild and domestic animals. 

Conservation is at the heart of everything the wildlife park does. It actively supports three charities and participates in endangered species programmes.

You can see zebras, wallabies, lemurs, European brown bears, and more at this Cumbria wildlife park, alongside a wide variety of birds of prey. 

The latter take part in daily flying demonstrations scheduled alongside educational talks and feeding experiences.

Visiting the Lake District Wildlife Park

  • Address: Lake District Wildlife Park, Bassenthwaite Lake, Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 4RD

  • Opening: Lake District Wildlife Park is open seven days a week, from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. 

  • Getting there by train: Get the train to Penrith Station, then take the X4 bus via Keswick to the ‘Trotters World’ bus stop. The wildlife park is a seven-minute walk from there.

The journey from London Euston to Penrith typically takes around three hours.

3. Lakes Aquarium

A portrait image of an otter in the grass.

The Lakes Aquarium in Ulverston is a must-visit for those interested in aquatic life. 

Set on the shores of Lake Windermere, this aquarium houses everything from piranhas to sharks. Visitors can also see otters, seals, and penguins and watch their feeding times. 

With interactive exhibits and daily talks, it’s the perfect place for visitors who want to learn more about conservation and protecting marine habitats.

Visiting Lakes Aquarium

  • Address: Lakeside, Newby Bridge, Ulverston, LA12 8AS

  • Opening: Lakes Aquarium is open seven days a week, including bank holidays. From 30th October, opening times are 10:00 am to 5:30 pm, with the last entry at 4:30 pm. It is closed on Christmas Day.

  • Getting there by train: Get the train to Kendal Station, then take the X6 bus to the ‘Hotel’ stop. From here, you can walk (23 minutes) or get a taxi to the aquarium. 

The journey from London Euston to Kendal typically takes around three hours.

4. Lake District Coast Aquarium

Two yellow seahorses in an aquarium.

The Lake District Coast Aquarium is another exciting aquatic attraction in Maryport, Cumbria. Visitors can expect to spot many species in the tanks, including fish, crabs, lobsters, and seahorses. 

Highlights include the Ship Wreck, where you can see species that prefer to live deep in the ocean. At the Shark & Ray Pool, visitors can witness an amazing display of the native shark and skate species that share our planet.

There are also daily feeding sessions and talks where you can learn interesting facts from the in-house aquarists. 

Kids will love the 14-hole golf course that you can use for free with your aquarium ticket. There’s also a nautical-themed adventure playground with zip wire and sinking boats. 

Visiting the Lake District Coast Aquarium

  • Address: South Quay, Maryport, CA15 8AB

  • Opening: Lake District Coast Aquarium is open seven days a week from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. 

  • Getting there by train: Take a train to Carlisle Station before getting a local connection to Maryport Station. The Coast Aquarium is just a 12-minute walk from there.

The journey from London Euston to Carlisle typically takes around three hours and 20 minutes.

5. Lakeland Wildlife Oasis

A red squirrel sitting on a tree trunk against a backdrop of green foliage.

Another unique animal attraction in Cumbria is the Lakeland Wildlife Oasis near Milnthorpe. 

This small zoo in Cumbria is home to various exotic animals, including lemurs, meerkats, and even armadillos. Visitors can also see native wildlife, like red squirrels and barn owls. 

The zoo runs daily talks and animal handling sessions, allowing visitors to interact more closely with the animals.

Adult guests can also participate in a unique, one-on-one ‘Meet the Carnivores’ experience. In this, you’ll help train fossa, create food and enrichment for meerkats, and feed the beautiful snow leopards. 

Visiting Lakeland Wildlife Oasis

  • Address: Hale, Milnthorpe, LA7 7FE

  • Opening: The Lakeland Wildlife Oasis is open seven days a week from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

    The last entry is one hour before closing. It is closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Opening hours may be extended for special events, particularly in the summer.

  • Getting there by train: Take a train to Lancaster station before getting a local service to Carnforth. Then, get the 755 bus to the ‘Kings Arm Hotel’ stop. The Wildlife Oasis is a 13-minute walk from there. 

The journey from London Euston to Lancaster typically takes two hours and 30 minutes.

6. Predator Experience

A closeup of a wolf hybrid's face in Lake District National Park.

To see some of nature's best hunters, take a trip to the Predator Experience near High Newton. 

Here, you can spend time with a wolf pack in the countryside and step inside a fox habitat. You can also learn how to handle an eagle and admire the epic sight of it soaring high above your head.

If you’re brave enough, you’ll also be able to meet creepy crawlies like snakes and tarantulas and learn about their role in nature’s ecosystem.

The Predator Experience is a fantastic activity for those passionate about wildlife. Photography enthusiasts will also have plenty of opportunities to capture these magnificent creatures.

Visiting the Predator Experience

  • Address: Ayside, Grange-over-Sands LA11 6HY,

  • Opening: The Predator Experience is open every day from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, but pre-booking is essential.

  • Getting there by train: Take a train to Kendal, then catch the X6 bus to ‘Snowdrop Villa’. It's a one-mile walk (approximately 23 minutes) or taxi ride from here to the entrance.

Other top UK zoos you can visit by train

Three king penguins standing side by side in Edinburgh Zoo.

Looking for even more exciting animal encounters? The UK has many other fantastic zoos and wildlife parks that you can easily get to by train. 

In the heart of the capital, you’ll find London Zoo, which attracts over one million visitors a year. Up in Scotland, Edinburgh Zoo is celebrated for its conservation initiatives and used to have the only giant pandas in the UK, before they returned to China in 2023. 

You could also head to Colwyn Bay for the Welsh Mountain Zoo, the oldest zoo in Wales. Chester Zoo, meanwhile, houses more than 35,000 animals and 500 different species.

Start planning your visit to a zoo in Cumbria

Whether you're interested in exotic wildlife, marine life or domestic animals, there's something for all animal lovers to enjoy in Cumbria.

The good news is that getting there is a breeze. Visitors from all over the UK can get to the region easily thanks to Avanti's regular train services to the Lake District.

Book tickets in advance to get the lowest fares, and try to travel off-peak when you can. It’s also worth seeing if you’re eligible for a Railcard, as these can help you secure even more savings.

Buy train tickets for your next journey

Buying through our website or app saves you money because we never charge booking fees.

To take a look at more ways to save including using a Railcard, booking in advance, and booking as a group, visit our ways to save page.

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