Best animal experiences in the UK for a unique day out
We’re not kid-ding around – these are the best animal experiences to try in 2023. From alpaca walks to swimming with sharks, we’ve got it all.
As a nation of animal lovers, we're treated in the UK with the number of zoos, aquariums and farms we have at our fingertips.
From goat yoga in the countryside to big cat encounters right in the centre of London, there are hundreds of ways to enjoy a unique animal experience.
So, if as a fellow animal fan you fancy getting up close to cuddly creatures this spring, we've assembled a list of the best animal experiences to try in 2023.
Put together by the team at RadioTimes.com, this list features a huge range of days out centred around the sweetest and snarliest members of the animal kingdom. We've included all creatures great and small, as well as a ton of different ways to interact with them, whether it be feeding them, walking them, or swimming with them.
Some experiences are perfect for little ones to enjoy, while others are best suited for adults only. But never fear, there's something on here for everyone.
The RadioTimes.com team always tries to keep on top of the best ethical practices when it comes to animal keeping. As such, we’ve only included experiences that put the welfare of the animals first and do not cause them any distress in the process. We have also highlighted below which businesses are known for their ethical practices and conservation efforts.
Now, get otter here and read on for the 16 best animal experiences in the UK!
Best animal experiences at a glance:
- Visit to London Zoo for four, £130.90
- Feed the Capybaras for Two at Hobbledown Heath, £69
- Full Day Wildlife Photography Experience, £99
- The Zookeeper Experience for Two at Epsom, £189
- Adopt and sponsor an animal, from £20
- Alpaca walk and Meet the Animals For Two, £30
- Yoga with Goats for Two in the Suffolk Countryside, £36
- Half Day Beekeeping Experience, £60
- Piggy Walk & Play Experience for One with Tea for Two, £72
- Dolphin Watching for Two, £75
- The Bear Grylls Shark Dive Experience, £135
- Sea Life VIP Experiences, from £45
- Scottish Wildlife Cruise of Mallaig, from £18
- Large Dog Spa Pamper Treatment, £110
- Sheepdog Training Day, £99.99
- Big Cat Encounter, £249.99
Best animal experiences to try in 2023
These are the best animal experiences to try this year. From cuddly creatures to dangerous predators, here is your guide to the best of the animal kingdom.
Visit to London Zoo for four
Right in the centre of London, you can step into the tropical oasis that is London Zoo. One of the most visited zoos in the UK, London Zoo has everything you could want from the animal kingdom. While there, you can visit the Land of the Lions, stop by the new Monkey Valley, or take a look in the man-made coral reef tank.
London Zoo is also a key member of the ZSL (Zoological Society of London), a global conservation charity that uses proceeds to save habitats and wildlife around the world.
This experience would be perfect for the Easter holidays. If you're looking for other spring activities check out our guide to the best Easter LEGO sets.
Feed the Capybaras for Two at Hobbledown Heath
Get a closer look at the world’s largest rodents with a visit to the capybaras at Hobbledown Heath in Hounslow. With the help of an expert keeper, you’ll get to step inside the enclosure and feed the capybaras yourself. Plus, there’s plenty of opportunities to take photos and ask questions about these lazy animals.
Full Day Wildlife Photography Experience
Embrace your artsy side and spend the day capturing some magical moments with this Wildlife Photography Experience. At Millets Wildside in Oxfordshire, you’ll have full access to the falconry centre and get the chance to photograph a range of majestic birds as they fly over water, swoop for prey and land on your arm.
You’ll also get to photograph some of the other live-in animals, such as meerkats, skunks, reptiles. No experience is needed but you will have to bring your own camera for the day.
The Zookeeper Experience for Two
Become a zookeeper for a day at Hobbledown Epsom and find out if you missed your true calling. During your day of work, you’ll be shown how to prepare and distribute hay to the livestock, feed the meerkats, otters, lemurs and other small animals, and even get to muck in and clean some of the enclosures – lucky you!
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It’s a tiring day, but you’ll come out having fulfilled your dream of working with animals.
Adopt and sponsor an animal
If animal conservation is important to you, then you might want to adopt or sponsor an animal from a charity. Simply pick your favourite species and donate to sponsor a specific animal for 12 months.
In return you’ll receive a souvenir pack complete with posters and information about your chosen creature, then you’ll be sent an official adoption certificate and sometimes updates on how your animal is getting on.
Alpaca Walk and Meet the Animals for Two
Alpaca walking has become insanely popular in the last few years. At Lucky Tails Alpaca Farm, they’re all about giving you time with these fluffy friends. With this experience, you’ll receive an introduction where you’ll harness the alpaca yourself before taking it on a leisurely stroll around the grounds. There’ll be plenty of chances to take pictures as you and your alpaca take in the Warwickshire countryside.
Yoga with Goats for Two in the Suffolk Countryside
Here's another new trend from recent years: goat yoga. Over a 75-minute class, you’ll go through the classic yoga experience with a goat companion at your side. Surrounded by trees and nature, you’ll discover how soothing this practice truly is.
Half Day Beekeeping Experience
Learn the art of beekeeping with a three-hour course at More Bees Please in Sheffield. During the workshop, your instructors will teach you all about the business of bees, from their life cycle and colonies to how to harvest and sell honey. You’ll also get the chance to sample some of their sustainably sourced honey before you go.
Piggy Walk & Play Experience for One with Sweet Treats and Tea for Two
If you go down to the Woods today you’re sure of a pig surprise. At Huckleberry Woods this spring, you can a walk with your very own micro pig. After that, you can go and meet the six other little pigs in the paddock before sitting down for a nice cup of tea with a friend.
Dolphin Watching for Two
You might not know that you can see dolphins off the coast of the UK, but it’s true. Cardigan Bay in north Wales is one of the best spots in Europe for dolphin watching, with a semi-resident population of bottlenose dolphins. On this experience, your guide will take you out to the best locations for dolphin spotting while giving you plenty of facts along the way.
Cardigan Bay is a Special Area of Conservation so you might also get to see other species, such as harbour porpoises, Atlantic grey seals and sunfish.
The Bear Grylls Shark Dive Experience
Descend into the depths and face your fears with this shark diving experience at the Bear Grylls Adventure centre in the West Midlands. For this day out, you’ll be geared up with scuba equipment and briefed by the pro dive team before you head down into the tank, filled with over 1,000 creatures including sharks, rays and tropical fish.
Sea Life VIP Experiences
At Sea Life Birmingham, you can pick from a range of VIP experiences to enhance your day at the aquarium. You can choose Scatter Feed, where you’ll be able to feed some of the smaller animals from up close; Ocean Feed, which gives you a behind-the-scenes look the UK's only 360 degree Ocean Tunnel; and Sharks After Dark, a private after-hours tour of the building and it’s scariest inhabitants.
Scottish Wildlife Cruise of Mallaig
Spot whales, sharks and dolphins off the coast of Mallaig in Scotland. On your cruise, you’ll get to admire the rugged coastline and keep an eye out for animals as you pass the Isles of Skye and Loch Nevis.
Large Dog Spa Pamper Treatment
Give your good boy the pamper they deserve with a large dog spa treatment. At a spa in Farnborough, your best friend will get treated in the best way with chemical- and cruelty-free products. Over the course of the session, they’ll get a hydro-massage bath with aromatherapy shampoo, a gentle blow dry, a full body brushing and a trim of the eyes, feet and private area.
Sheepdog Training Day
Come-by! Out on the Yorkshire moors you can live like a real farmer by learning to train a sheep dog. With expert guidance, you’ll learn all the instructions and techniques that come with herding sheep and get the chance to bond with a very clever breed.
Big Cat Encounter
See some of nature’s fiercest predators at the Big Cat Sanctuary. Home to over 45 cat species including African lions, Sumatran tigers, Amur leopards, jaguars and snow leopards, the sanctuary is dedicated to saving some of the most endangered cats on the planet. With this visit, you can take an exclusive tour of the different cat breeds and even get to hand-feed one.
For more unique days out, take a look at our list of the best F1 experience days and the best immersive experiences. Or, if you want to know how to turn some of these great experiences into a gift, check out how to buy a Virgin Experience Days gift card.