If you are visiting the Cotswolds with children or you love animals, or perhaps you are a keen gardener, then the Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens should definitely be on your agenda!
Located just 2 miles south of Burford, it takes less than 30 mins drive from Graziers Cottage, so hopefully your children won’t get a chance to start asking “are we nearly there yet?”.
Why Cotswold Wildlife Park?
We guarantee a great day of excitement from site-seeing these gorgeous animals. They are kept in large enclosures designed to represent their natural habitats as close as possible. Park visitors are separated from the animals by secure but non-obstructive boundaries so you can enjoy a full view!
You have a chance to see lions, giraffes, zebras, wolves, wolverines, red pandas, giant tortoises, meercats, reptiles, penguins, birds of prey, ostriches (the full list is large)… and the icon of the Park – white rhinos!
But the real surprise which humbly awaits every visitor are the beautiful gardens. Even though the name of the place suggests, you really have no idea how big, lush, exotic and extremely well designed these gardens are until you actually see them! A team of gardeners makes sure that – no matter what time of the year you are visiting – the gardens look their absolute best.
Another feature of the Park is the manor house (aka Bradwell Grove Manor House) which proudly occupies the centre of the grounds. It was built in the early 19 century in the Georgian Gothic style. Nowadays, it is used as the Park’s offices, for exhibition and conferences, hosts a restaurant for visitors, and the cellars are used for the reptiles’ hibernation.
Owners of the Park
What we actually see in the Park today is a result of the hard work of the Park’s current owner Reggie Heyworth and his father John, who decided to open the gardens to the public and started a wildlife park in 1970. John and Reggie represent the 2nd and 3rd generation of the last owners of the Manor House.
What can I see in the Park?
The Park hosts over 250 species of animals, including mammals, primates, reptiles and birds.
As mentioned above, the white rhinos are the jewel in the crown. You will see them on literally every picture of the Park, gracefully posing in front of the House. This group of rhinos (called “crush”) is part of a conservation programme that protects threatened species. Considering that seven new rhinos were born here, it’s a success!
Giraffes and zebras are among children’s favourites, as well as giant tortoises, penguins and a family of cheeky meercats.
Older children will be fascinated with the bats (who occupy the former stables) and the collection of reptiles and insects.
What else to do in the Park?
If your kids still have some energy to burn, there’s an adventure playground for children of all ages. Little ones will enjoy the sandpit, mini zip-wire and “Mini Manor” with its interconnected treehouse and slide. Older children can let their steam off at the Skymaze with its interconnected treehouses, jungle bridges and slides, or climb up to see a bird’s eye view of the Park over 20 feet high.
Parents will appreciate the large lawns and benches nearby – a perfect opportunity for a picnic or relaxation.
From April to October the narrow-gage railway operates and takes its passengers around the Park. Entrance is £1 per person (under 3’s free).
Please note: due to COVID safety requirements, the playground and the railway may be closed. Check the Park’s announcements on their web site.
What are the Park’s facilities for the visitors?
The Park facilitates visitors of all abilities. It is wheelchair and pushchair friendly, with designated disabled parking and toilets/changing rooms.
There is a large, free carpark for visitors with the barriers entry. Tickets must be presented at the barriers. Please note: all tickets are currently sold online only.
The park has a few designated lawned picnic areas, where visitors can sit down under the mature trees with socially distant spacing. We loved this feeling of safe space and relaxation.
There is an on-site restaurant and several refreshment kiosks – please check separate opening times during pandemic restrictions.
How long should I plan for the Park?
Realistically, it takes an entire day to enjoy the Park. If you are not in a hurry, we would recommend to take it easy, probably prioritise on those animals which you and your children are most interested in.
Feel free to download printable Park Map (PDF).
The grounds are quite extensive, so make sure you are wearing comfortable footwear! Also, be prepared for the English weather!
Some animals are tricky to see, they may hide from the heat or visitors – be patient!
During the pandemic, some enclosures operate limited admission – be prepared for queueing up (don’t worry, the queues aren’t long).
We spent all day in the Park, managed to see most of the animals and left very satisfied and exhausted!
Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens
For Sat Nav direction, please use the post code OX18 4JJ. The Park entrance is opposite the Caravan Club Site.