Recently we visited Ponderosa Zoo in Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire for the first time ever. I only write review posts for places that we’ve visited in person and if we don’t like somewhere we will say so.
We almost didn’t visit Ponderosa because I listed some discounted tickets once on Facebook but I had to take the post down as so many people were saying this place was rubbish. But recently I’d also heard from many happy people that have been and had a nice day. I decided we’d better check it out ourselves and you know what we had a lovely day and we would return.
Ponderosa Zoo Review
The first thing to know about this place is that they have spent quite a bit of money on some new enclosures and they have plenty of future plans to improve the park. Their animals are all clearly well-loved and cared for. Yes. it’s a small place but we spent almost 4 hours there. We walked around once in the morning and once after lunch and both times we saw different animals or animals doing different things.
When we arrived we were guided to a parking place. The parking is in about 3 different places. You then enter via their shop. They focus more on exotic animals rather than farm animals so you can’t purchase any food for them.
Your visit starts past some wallabies and then on to their meerkats and reptiles. We spent quite a while at each enclosure. Other animals close to the entrance include porcupines, raccoon dogs and monkeys. They also have a new nocturnal house but we didn’t spot much in there.
There is a nice cafe and ice cream parlour BUT they also have a restaurant that serves a fantastic Sunday lunch carvery. The staff were really friendly and the food was excellent. You could even have the roast at a cheaper price if you are veggie and they were great sorting me out with meat-free gravy etc and telling me what I could or couldn’t have. I was so impressed!
The Lakeside restaurant can be pre-booked which is recommended for the Sunday lunch. It may sometimes be closed for a function and mid-week so it’s best to check ahead. They also have a seasonal Pizza Shed on-site.
Ponderosa Zoo has a couple of play areas. The first one is next to their cafe and there is a play frame for older kids plus one for younger kids. My son loved the separate climbing net with a tube slide. They also had a bouncy castle. There are a few picnic tables dotted around.
A bit further on from here is another play frame that is more suited to toddlers. The whole place felt really clean and well cared for.
They also have a huge sandpit area with a big metal boat that kids can play on and in. This is currently closed awaiting refurbishment so it’ll be interesting to see what they do with it.
As you walk around there are a number of other enclosures. Other animals include tortoises, birds, coati, otters, wild cats and more. We were fascinated by their Serval pictured below and we spent ages watching it watch humans.
A real highlight for me was the new walk-through lemur enclosure. Twice a day you are allowed to walk through their enclosure. I’ve walked through a fair few in my lifetime and I have to say that this was my favourite. We felt so close to these amazing creatures and they have a lovely home to play in. I could have literally stayed in here all day. They often walk past you and are so much fun to watch.
They also have a pretty lake with fish that some people were feeding part of their lunch too. Near here there are some ‘proper’ reindeer. They don’t stay in this enclosure all day and we only saw them in the morning.
We all had a lovely day out and we would certainly return. If anyone dares to challenge me I’ll ask if they’ve actually been recently because I doubt they will have done.
Ponderosa Zoo FAQ & Further Information
Address: Off Smithies Ln, Liversedge, Heckmondwike WF16 0PN, West Yorkshire. Phone: 01924 235276
Category – Wildlife Park – Mostly Outdoors – Suitable for all ages although children age 10 and under will get more out of a visit.
What are the ticket prices?
Adults £7.95, children age 3-15 £6.95, under 3s are free. Other pricing options are available. Online pre-bookings only.
What are the main facilities and things to do?
Small wildlife park with lots of interesting animals including a walkthrough lemur enclosure and play areas. There are toilets and places to purchase food and drinks.
When are they open?
They are open almost all year round and are only closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Please see their website for further information.
Is there food available?
There is a cafe, an ice cream parlour, a restaurant and more.
Is there parking?
There is free parking.
Are they dog friendly?
Dogs are not permitted.