Coronavirus has made me very nervous about taking the kids anywhere there may be a large number of people. However, we wanted to celebrate my birthday last week and also do something nice for the kids. So we went to Dudley Zoo.
Before going we took a quick look on their website to see what their new procedures were for booking. As I have seen many places are now only taking online bookings. Dudley zoo is also only taking online bookings. You also have to pick a time slot you want to go to. You have to arrive at this time but you can stay as long as you want. This means they can control the number of people booking to visit the zoo.
Like many other attractions, they are not accepting any 2-4-1 vouchers at the moment. This is understandable as they need to make some money back after being closed for such a long time.
When booking our tickets online we also paid for our car park pass. Which meant when we got to Dudley zoo we just needed to get a car park token so we could exit the car park.
On arriving at the zoo we were met by one member of staff on the outside of the entrance. Who explained to us from a safe distance what we needed to do with regards to claiming our car park token and checking in.
Checking in was really easy and quick to do. A member of staff was sat in the booth and all you had to do. Was tell them your name and show them your booking invoice via your phone. Which they then scanned and then they gave us our car park token.
The first thing we noticed was that the zoo was on way only. Which meant you weren’t going to be bumping into people. The majority of the paths were one way only. Some paths though had been halved with a white line. So people could walk either side safely.
I was actually amazed by the amount of hand sanitiser stations all around the zoo. Virtually every animal had a hand sanitiser attached to the enclosure. All were full and all worked.
I’m not sure if this was on purpose but the hand sanitiser stations were at child height. Which meant my two were easily able to use them. I think Alby may have used every one of them around the zoo.
All around the zoo were constant reminders to socially distance from people. There were even signs on the glass of each enclosure asking you not to touch the glass.
All toilets were working on a one in one out system with members of staff manning every toilet to ensure this was happening.
Staff were scattered across the zoo mainly where there is potential for a high volume of people to accumulate. They were very polite and asked people to keep on moving when needed. They were Wearing safety visors and some also had face coverings on. The staff were so happy and chatty. Talking to the children. Telling them things about different animals. What the animal’s names were. I wasn’t expecting this interaction but they did and they did it with great passion and enthusiasm.
As the zoo is now one way it takes a little longer to come by some toilets. You’re not allowed to turn round and go to some you have walked passed either which is understandable. So when Alby declared to me he needed a wee I was a little concerned with if I would be able to find one. I spoke to a member of the zoo team who was amazing. She opened up barriers that have been locked up for the one-way system to work. Walked us all the way to the nearest toilet. Then told the member of the staff in that area to let me back through the locked barriers. So we didn’t miss any of the animals in that section.
Not knowing what food would be available for the children we took packed lunches. Which they ate in a cutout section of the castle which they loved as it was a rainy day. However, if it’s a sunny day there are picnic benches in certain areas you can eat at. There seemed to be more bins available. Which had their lids open so you didn’t have to touch the bins.
On a sunny day there are lots of different areas you would be able to have a picnic. Including a grass area inside the castle which would be lovely on a sunny day.
There were different snack shacks along the way serving drinks, ice creams, snacks, and hotdogs. Which myself and Jordan had and that was nice and pretty reasonably priced.
Different areas of the zoo weren’t open like the giraffe house and the wallaby walk but that didn’t matter. As you were still able to see the animals perfectly. The parks were also closed which my children didn’t mind as they were just so excited to be at the zoo.
Both the gift shops and fairground rides were open. We didn’t go on any of the rides but you have to buy tickets to go on the rides as you do at most of these places in addition to your entrance price.
The gift shop was manned at the entrance by a member of staff. Who would tell you when it was okay to go in. The shop itself is one way which worked well. As it meant we could get the kids round it easier.
I haven’t been to Dudley zoo since I was a child so didn’t really know what to expect with regards to what animals they had. Let’s just say I wasn’t disappointed they had a huge array of animals and you could see them all really well. Even in the rain!
The geek in me really loved all the historical information dotted around the zoo. They had information about when the zoo first opened, How it’s changed over the years and also about how they transport the animals over the years has changed.
There was also loads of information about the different animals. Which Ava really enjoyed looking at. Also if I’m honest it helped me to answer a lot of the random questions about the animals she was asking me.
Our overall thoughts of visiting Dudley zoo after lockdown
Overall I’m so happy with our visit to Dudley zoo after lockdown. I felt so at ease which meant the children had a good time. I didn’t worry about them walking off a little
All the procedures put into place worked really well. You could tell that everyone understood where they needed to be and which way they should be going. You could even hear children excitedly talking about following the arrows around the zoo.
I will for sure be booking to go again before Ava starts school. As we had such a lovely time, saw some amazing animals, and most importantly felt safe.