This weekend we celebrated Piper’s tenth birthday with an amazing meerkat feeding experience at Twycross Zoo. This wasn’t our original plan, she normally has a big party with friends and family which obviously wasn’t possible this year. Then we booked a trip to our favourite holiday home on the Llyn Peninsula but had to cancel at the last minute due to local restrictions. So feeling rather frantic I spent a desperate few hours trying to come up with something to recover the weekend. A meerkat experience for my animal loving daughter was the perfect solution. Thankfully Twycross Zoo was able to squeeze us in..
What to expect from a meerkat feeding experience
We arrived at the Zoo about an hour before our experience and headed straight to Guest Services. You’ll need to walk through the indoor play area, and show your tickets to get into the zoo. You can just book the feeding experience but we wanted to spend longer at the zoo so had prebooked tickets. Only 4 people are allowed to attend the meerkat feeding experiences but all members of your party will need to buy entry tickets.
Our zoo keeper met us at the meerkat enclosure and let us in through the small gate. The meerkats were clearly ready for dinner and their cute faces looked up at us expectantly as we stepped in. We were given disposable gloves and told where we could stand. The zoo keeper also ran us through some safety procedures including not to touch the meerkats or stoop down too close to them. Twycross like to keep their animals as wild as possible, some zoos will allow you to hold meerkats but I think this way is far better.
What do the meerkats eat?
Meerkats have a pretty strong stomach. They eat live mealworms, crickets and seeds. Our kids were fine and shrieked with glee, picking up the insects for feeding. If you are a little squeamish, you can always shake their food onto the ground. What surprised us the most was the noise the meerkats made as they were waiting for their food, it’s somewhere between a growl and a squeal and very cute!
The meerkats are pretty cheeky and all have very distinct characteristic. Currently all the meerkats at Twycross are boys and all brothers. The zookeeper told us all their names and how to tell each apart. Some of them were pretty inquisitive, stepping on our boots and getting really close, some were pretty greedy gobbling up the food as soon as we put it down. The mealworms were clearly their favourite and they were gone in minutes.
The Zookeeper was very friendly and happily answered all our questions. He clearly loved his job and I don’t blame him, spending all this time with these amazing creatures. We learnt about how the gang of meerkats operate, with one finding somewhere high to stand guard whilst the others look in the ground for food or dig their tunnels up to 5 foot down.
How long does the experience last?
The actual meerkat experience took less than half an hour with most of the food being gobbled up in ten minutes. The rest of the time was spent observing the creatures and chatting to the zookeeper. In total we spent around 4 hours at the zoo, playing on the outdoor equipment and visiting some of the other enclosures.
Cost of the Meerkat Zoo Experience
The meerkat feeding experience at Twycross for up to 4 people costs £75 on a weekday and £80 on a weekend. If you want to see anything else at the zoo, you’ll need to buy tickets. These were slightly discounted as we had booked the experience so were £15 for adults and £10 for kids. In total our bill for 4 adults and two children came to an eye-watering £160. Probably a similar price to a party.
What else is there to see at Twycross Zoo?
Twycross has changed quite a lot since our last visit 5 years ago. Many of the enclosures have had an upgrade and several are now walk through. Even though I know Twycross does a huge amount of conservation work, I’m not a fan of keeping animals in cages so we avoided several enclosures.
Pipers’ second favourite part of the day was the lorikeet enclosure. Here we were able to buy a small pot of nectar for £1 each then walk with the lorikeets to feed them. These colourful birds are very friendly and will land on your arms to drink from the cup. One even landed on my husbands head!
Next up was the walk through butterfly enclosure, amazing for our little ones as some of the colourful insects landed on their yellow coats. And ideal for us adults as it was a chance to get warm after the blistering cold of a UK October.
We also loved the walk through lemur enclosure, where the kids ran around trying to spot the monkeys in the trees.
For a nice break from the animals we grabbed a coffee while the kids played on the outdoor play equipment. There were tyres to swing on, walls to climb and of course plenty of hand sanitiser available.
We all fell for the super cute penguins and spent some time imagining their names and characters.
Where to stay if you’re spending the day at Twycross
If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Twycross for their Meerkat feeding experience you’ll want to start early. I really like to make a full weekend of our days out so always treat us to somewhere nice to stay nearby the attraction. One of the best hotels close to Twycross Zoo is Bosworth Hall Hotel and Spa. This is a beautiful hotel located in Market Bosworth around 15 minutes from Twycross Zoo. It has a pool, games room and interconnecting rooms for families.
Where to eat near Twycross Zoo
There is a canteen style restaurant onsite at Twycross but we tend to eat elsewhere. One of my favourite places to eat close by is the Swan at Walton Trent. It’s a gorgeous gastro pub with great food and a lovely outdoor seating area. They even have a lovely pizza oven to create the most amazing flatbreads. It’s around 20 minutes from Twycross and well worth the drive across the countryside.
Other Twycross Zoo Experiences
Twycross Zoo has many animal experiences available to choose from. All at varying prices and bookable at different times of the year. I think the meerkats will have been the most fun, available year round and suitable for children.
The flamingo and pelican experience looks like great value for just £35 per person and I’m sure everyone would love a lemur feeding experience which is again £80 for 4 people. You could also opt for a penguin feeding experience for £80 which I imagine smells a little fishy!
Other experiences not suitable for kids include a great ape tour for £450, a tiger encounter for £350 or a Leopard feeding experience for £300. Have a look at the Zoo website for details. Not all animal experiences will be available.
Additional Safety measures at Twycross
As with most places currently Twycross Zoo has several additional safety precautions in place. For our meerkat feeding experience we were required to wear a mask and were provided with gloves – although I imagine we would use the gloves anyway!
All activities at Twycross must now be pre-booked to ensure numbers are kept to a safe level which is currently just 20% of previous visitor capacity. Visitors are all given time slots to enter the zoo and must check in with the NHS QR code on arrival. Protective screens have been installed in many areas and masks must be worn whenever indoors. I do recommend wearing one throughout the whole of your visit.
The wet and wild play area is closed but other outdoor play areas are open. Hands must be sanitised before and after playing and sanitiser is available in many areas. There are no longer any animal talks to try to avoid crowds. Twycross requests that anyone feeling unwell on the day of their visit reschedule.
About Twycross Zoo
Twycross zoo is located on the Leicestershire/Warwickshire border in the beautiful Midlands countryside. It is now renowned as a World Primate centre and home to breeding groups of several endangered primates. Twycross Zoo is open everyday except Christmas day.
Other Meerkat Feeding Experiences in the UK
If you can’t make it to Twycross but still want to get up close to some meerkats, several places in the UK offer these kind of experiences. Longleat in Wiltshire offers a 30 minute experience for £65 per person. Or Drusillas Park in East Sussex has a similar experience for £95.
Other Birthday treat ideas
Another great idea if you’re looking for safe birthday treats would be a treasure hunt. We loved our summer treasure hunt through Lichfield. Have a read for a great value day out idea in Staffordshire.
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