Askham Bryan Wildlife & Conservation Park opened in March 2017 as an education-focused experience to help educate the students at the college and inspire future generations to respect and conserve animals and plants.
Located on the side of Askham Bryan College, just off the A64, near York. It is easy to get too, although you have to keep your eyes out for the signage. We did end up having a little tour around the grounds, but given Little M was providing the directions from the SatNav, whilst Baby A showcased his toys ability to play Jingle Bells on repeat, it could have been circumstances!
The park opened in March 2017 and is open at weekends and school holidays. Admission to the ABC Wildlife & Conservation Park is £6.95 (Adults), £4.95 (3-15yrs) with Free Entry for Under 3’s. A season pass covers its costs within around three visits.
On arrival, we were made to feel very welcome by the staff and given a map and suggestions on what was happening throughout the day.
We first ventured outside to help gather our bearings and had a look at the meerkats and then the incredible porcupine – I wouldn’t mess with him!
The park is split into several areas covering a variety of animal species. One of the things that makes Askham Bryan Wildlife Park different, however, is the areas in-between.
The valley of lost gnomes, decorated forest, huge tree’s and painted tyres all brought a sense of magic to the mini zoo, which gave us plenty to look at and talk about between zones.
After an initial explore, we visited ‘Wildlife of the World’ an indoor area with a wealth of animals including frogs, lizards, mammals, fish and snakes for two educational sessions which showcased the animals and also gave us an opportunity to touch and hold some of them.
For our second session at the end of the day, we were lucky enough to be the only visitors, so got the keepers to ourselves. They introduced us to a selection of reptiles including a very large and impressive Lizzard for us to hold. Little M loved this, and it was a great experience.
It wasn’t long before a huge snake slithered into our lives. We felt how strong its muscles were, learnt how and what it ate and what big teeth it had! At this point, i suggested that Little M should have a hold, he quickly replied that he was fine, but I should… it turns out I am not a huge fan of snakes, so forget the Children… I held an enormous non-killer snake for five minutes!
Before all this, we had ventured into a park which Little M explored while Baby A had a little snooze. It isn’t the most impressive park, but it was perfect for our four-year-old who played fire engines, dashing between climbing frames, swings and slides.
We also headed for lunch at the cafe located in the car park. I think it must be a student cafe in the week and then aimed at visitors at the weekends? Whilst it had some good seating and facilities (including a mini play area), the food choice wasn’t great and quite confusing. In the end, Little M and I shared a cheese toasty and a juice. There were no kids meals or much more beyond prepackaged sandwiches and panini. I would suggest a picnic and nipping in for a hot drink in the future.
Refocussing back on the animals, we walked to the furthest point, to look at the birds. As it was cold, they were all indoors, so we didn’t get to see much. There is also a falcon attraction, but this costs extra and requires pre-booking and would terrify all three of us!
The Wallabies were highly rewarding, giving us plenty to talk about as they interacted with each other. Next door live the ‘Cheeky Critters’ who did not disappoint! The Racoons were fascinating and didn’t stop still, but they were no match for the fastest squirrel in the world!
The animal enclosures were all clean and gave us a good view of them. Neatly spaced out, although it was a quiet day, we naturally rotated from display to display. With crafts and activities often running and regular talks across the park, there is plenty to do and see.
Askham Bryan Wildlife and Conservation Park was an enjoyable day out for the all of us. It was relatively low cost and minimal stress navigating with a baby and toddler. Whilst the shops and surrounding areas were busy; it was an oasis of calm!
For locals, an annual pass must be a serious consideration if you have children interested in animals and wildlife. Everyone we spoke to was informed and enthusiastic; even I wanted to be a zookeeper following our visit.
We have been again! This time with Uncle Philip and enjoyed the craft activities where we made some paper animals, coloured in and got ourselves all tangled up in sticky tape.
Askham Bryan Wildlife & Conservation Park Review
Askham Bryan Wildlife & Conservation Park is an easy #dadsdayout with welcoming staff, plenty of space and a rewarding sense of being educational as well.