As a family we have experienced many zoos in Norfolk and Suffolk. When we look back at our highlights many of them come from Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens. They are excellent at putting visitor experience at the front and center. Importantly though, I didn’t feel that this was at the expense of animal care. Thrigby Hall gardens are stunning as well, it’s a really lovely place to walk around.
Thrigby Hall Wildlife Park is a zoo near Great Yarmouth in Norfolk. It is also part of the BIAZA zoos discount scheme (more about that at the bottom of this page).
Here are our favourite bits from our visit to Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens:
1. The Gibbons
You cannot miss the gibbons. At times throughout the day they make an incredible noise as they call to one another from their tree top enclosures. They have two species at Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens, Siamang Gibbons and White Handed Gibbons. They have tall enclosures, designed for them to be able to swing around in. Visitors can walk along tree top paths, bringing them face to face with the gibbons as they perform.
Apologies for the video quality but I recommend having a listen.
2. Swamp House
The Swamp House is wonderful. They have two species of crocodile (Mugger and the iconic Salt Water) and an American alligator in residence. On the day we visited the American alligator was sunning itself in the outdoor part of its enclosure. It could move freely inside or out. Inside the Swamp House visitors can move around on raised walkways giving them as excellent view of the terrifying reptiles. Even better, if you follow the walkway around it takes you down to below the water level and if you are lucky enough you will find yourself eye to eye with a crocodile.
3. Sumatran Tigers
How close have you been to a tiger? I can guarantee it won’t be closer than you are able to get to the Sumatran tigers at Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens. We initially went into the tiger tunnel which was a bit of a disappointment. The tunnel takes you into the tiger enclosure at ground level and while we could see a tiger moving around behind some vegetation on the other side of the enclosure, it wasn’t quite as up close and personal as advertised.
When we headed up into the treetops things got more exciting. A school group was entirely occupying the platform but the wait was worth it. We found ourselves alone with two tigers no more than 2 feet away through a double fence. It was just absurd to be that close to a tiger. One was fast asleep despite the noisy school children, the other climbed up and settled herself next to us. She was one of the most beautiful creatures I have had the fortune to have been in the presence of.
4. Walk-Through Aviary
From a majestic big cat to ducks. The main aviary (amd indeed all the smaller ones) were some of our favourite places at Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens because of the attention to visitor experience. Like all good aviaries there is a feeling of space as you walk around, you don’t notice the netting that covers the area. The main feature is a raised pond which gives you a great view of the ducks, ducklings and ibis nesting on the side.
5. Snow, Clouded and Amur Leopards
Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens have three species of leopard, Snow, Clouded and Amur Leopards. All Thrigby Hall’s leopards are stunning creatures. Again, treetop walkways mean you feel like you are walking through the enclosures, not just past them. You can climb a tree and find yourself next to one leopard as it lounges on a platform, walk along a pathway to look down on another two as they playfight or return to ground level and look up to see yet another pass through a tunnel above your head. Many of the big cat species at Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens are part of European wide breeding programmes, including the leopards.
The playgrounds at Thrigby Hall gardens were just right for us. There was plenty to keep the kids entertained while we had a coffee but they weren’t so big that we couldn’t drag them away when it was time to go and see animals. The smaller playground on the lawn in front of the house was aimed at our pre-school aged children. It included a simple maze which was a big favourite with 4 year old Ted. We tried out the bigger playground too but it was all a bit much for the 2 year old. Ted is a monkey but even he struggled. There is a small undercover soft play area here too.
7. Thrigby Hall gardens
I can’t not mention just how gorgeous and well kept the gardens are. The lawns are the perfect place for a picnic. The Pool Garden was one of our favourite spots, make sure you don’t miss it out.
Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens Tickets and Discounts
You can find up to date ticket prices on their website here.
One of the best ways we have found to get discounts to many zoos in the East of England is to buy an annual pass for one zoo. A benefit of an annual pass for any zoo signed up to the BIAZA scheme is 50% of the ticket price at all the other zoos. For a full list of the zoos signed up to the scheme and reviews of all the East Anglia zoos you should check out this post. The post also includes a full comparison of entry costs and prices of the annual passes.
The 11 zoos signed up to the sceme are:
- Africa Alive!
- Amazona Zoo
- Banham Zoo
- Jimmy’s Farm
- Linton Zoo
- Paradise Wildlife Park
- Raptor Foundation
- SEALIFE Great Yarmouth
- Shepreth WIldlife Park
- Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens
- Woodside Wildlife Park
Thrigby Hall Gardens Amenities
As well as excellent playgrounds and beautiful grounds Thrigby Hall has several other amenities. It has a useful, if a uninspiring cafe and a well-stocked gift shop. The kids are into their bamboo plates at the moment so we bought them some new bamboo bowls. Next we’ll be looking for cups like these from GoReusable.org.