Wild at heart

You don’t have to travel too far to get back to nature. We round up some of the best wildlife parks in Scotland

Camperdown Wildlife Park, Dundee 

three bearsThe bears are the star attraction at the 18-acre Camperdown Wildlife Park.

Star, the European Brown Bear, who is 30, now has three (unrelated) youngsters to keep her company.

There are 50 other species of animals at the park, including Asian otters, meerkat and the ring-tailed lemur. One of the biggest birds at the park is the golden eagle, and there are several types of owl, including (for Harry Potter fans) the snowy owl.

www.camperdownwildlifecentre.com

 

Auchingarrich, Comrie, Perthshire

boy with chick

This family-run wildlife park has been on the go for about eight years, and hosts family farmyard favourites such as Highland cows, lambs and chicks.

They also have a wildcat, otters and owls and there’s even a trout fishery where you can try your hand at fly fishing or relax with a latte at the Torlum coffee shop.

Nestled in the Perthshire hills, it’s a great place for the kids to let off steam and get up close to around 50 species of animal.

www.auchingarrich.co.uk

 

Scottish Seabird Centre, North Berwick

seabird centreHave a great day out at the seaside at this five-star visitor attraction. You can control interactive live cameras on the local islands to see wildlife in its natural habitat. This includes the world-famous Bass Rock, home to the world’s largest colony of Northern gannets, and the Isle of May National Nature Reserve, which has the biggest puffin and grey seal colonies on the east coast of Britain.

Or you can experience the Firth of Forth on a range of boat trips. Take in the islands of The Lamb, Craigleith and the Bass Rock, with fantastic photo opportunities during the hour-long excursions. There are landing trips to the Isle of May, with guided tours and specialist photographic tours available.

The Scottish Seabird Centre has the exclusive landing rights for the Bass Rock, so for the wildlife and photography enthusiast, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

https://seabird.org/index.php

 

RZSS Highland Wildlife Park, Kingussie

red pandaThe highland setting provides the perfect habitat for the animals at this park, which opened in 1972. Over the years the theme of the park has altered to house animals from tundra and mountainous areas around the world. You’ll be able to see many from the safety of your car as they roam freely, while others live in award-winning enclosures, allowing visitors to view them at close quarters.

You can also choose to take a Land Rover guided tour. Musk ox, wolves, elk, snow leopards and lynx are are just some of the animals here, while the polar bears are a main attraction. Photography tours are available too, but must be booked in advance.

www.highlandwildlifepark.org.uk

 

Loch Leven, Kinross 

loch leven

The beautiful and historic Loch Leven forms part of the Loch Leven National Nature Reserve. Operated
by RSPB Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and Historic Environment Scotland, you can spend days uncovering the many layers here.

The castle in the centre of the loch once famously imprisoned Mary Queen of Scots, and you can now take a boat out to visit. There’s a variety of nature trails, one of which encircles the loch and is easy to cycle around. For bird watchers, the wetlands here are managed by RSPB Scotland and there are hides dotted around and viewing points at the visitor centre too.

You can even hire binoculars. Depending on the time of year, look out for lapwing, whooper swans and pink-footed geese. In the summer, osprey often visit.

www.nnr-scotland.org.uk/loch-leven

 

Edinburgh Butterfly and Insect World, Edinburgh 

butterflyMost kids love creepy crawlies – it’s the adults that have an irrational fear of them – so face your fears and take the family to this incredible haven for bugs and beasties.

Once inside, you find yourself in a semi-tropical climate, where butterflies fly around freely and can land directly on you. There are tarantulas, millipedes and praying mantis – all in special enclosures, while in the reptile room you can see a chameleon change colour or handle tortoises and turtles.

www.edinburghbutterflyworld.com

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