We visit the ‘threatened’ wildlife park just over an hour’s drive from Bristol

The zoo was surprisingly very quiet

‘Absolutely amazing place’, read the latest TripAdvisor review of one of Somerset’s biggest tourist attractions - although you might not have heard of it. Well, I hadn’t before I planned a family day trip to the West Country coast line this weekend.

Tropiquaria Zoo, just outside Wachet and an 80-minute car journey from Bristol, describes itself as a wildlife park and aquarium, and a ‘world leader’ in the breeding and conservation of a critically endangered species of small fish.

And judging by TripAdvisor, where the attraction is rated four stars from 688 reviews, it was certainly worth a visit. So, with my 23-month-old and 10-month-old daughters, we headed down the M5 and along the A39 happily singing animal songs all the way.

The attraction’s website states that it has been left ‘on the brink of survival’ by the Covid-19 pandemic having lost nine months of income - but ticket prices are reasonable. Adults go in for £13, children aged between two and 15 cost £10.50. There’s also a family ticket for £43.

We turned up an hour after opening and found the place to be surprisingly very quiet. Entering through a shop, we were immediately faced by owner Chris Mosier who was half way through a newspaper puzzle when we paid up to go inside.

I was taken back by just how much was inside the park when handed the map. We first went through the tropical hall and aquarium filled with animals like a crocodile, snakes and lizards. Small birds pecked the floor for food at its centre.

Next we headed to the cafe situated in a castle-like building. There I got a cup of tea and watched the children on an indoor play area for small children. There was also a larger play area for older children.

Back outside, we listened to an entertaining talk on raccoons before heading over to two full-size pirate ships in a large garden where there were also caged marmosets, a couple of large tortoises and meerkats.

As rain started to come down we sought shelter and went underground to view the aquarium where there were more than 40 tanks of fish from around the world.

It was incredible to see so many species - and that was not it. Outside, we finished our visit by walking around more of the zoo’s grounds where we saw gibbons, parrots and wild cats.

Although some areas of the attractions appear to look tired and could do with a lick of paint, the visit was certainly worth the money we paid. I’ve never seen so many animals in one place.

My only concern was how quiet it was. Back in 2020, Mr Mosier described the zoo being in a perilous state due to the loss of income from lockdown. I hope, for his and the animals’ sake, that business picks up again during ‘more busier’ times like school holidays when the nearby Butlins in Minehead will be full.

To donate to the park, click here.

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