Days Out

PONDEROSA ZOO: A family-friendly attraction in Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire – Review

Ponderosa Zoo in Heckmondwike is a hidden gem housing over 120 animals from Lemurs to reindeers and reptiles. 

We went on our first trip to the West Yorkshire based Zoo, formerly known as Ponderosa Rural Therapeutic Centre, during the school holidays to experience a family day out. 

Visiting Ponderosa Zoo 

The zoo is located off Smithies Lane Liversedge, Heckmondwike WF16 0PN. I hadn’t realised it was there until recently as it is tucked away. 

 

We parked up before checking in at the wooden hut-come-gift shop. We were greeted and showed the treasure trail which was there for Halloween. As it was Halloween when we went you could also pay £3 extra to get a pumpkin carved. The zoo is very reasonably priced compared to larger zoos we have been to. 

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I hadn’t realised how much there was to do from visiting animals to an indoor playbarn, outdoor play area, zip wire and talks on animals. There’s also spaces to eat a picnic or there is plenty of food and drink available to buy on site.

The zoo is compact with lots of paths making it easy to get around. There’s also a sand pit, so it’s a good idea to wear wellies especially when the weather is cold and drizzly like it was when we visited. 

My daughters aged 4 and 7 enjoyed exploring the zoo and filling out the treasure hunt. My Step brother Oscar, who is autistic, also enjoyed the zoo which is off the beaten path and felt a lot more tranquil than other attractions we have been to. 

We sought shelter in the large Lakeside Cafe which is also an events and wedding venue. It’s a cafeteria style eaterie with hot & cold food and drink available to buy. I had a nice tomato sop whilst the kids opted for jacket potatoes. 

We then ventured back outside for a last look around at some of the animals, before picking up our pumpkin which had been specially carved for us, suing our drawings. The kids had a few last goes on the zip wire before we returned to the car. 

I hadn’t realised there was a small indoor play barn as well, so next time we will definitely try that too. 

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We had a lovely half-day at the zoo with friendly and accommodating staff. My mum and I really appreciated the emphasis on education, nature and endangered species. 

It’s a down-to-earth Zoo which is affordable and perfect for the whole family. 

ALL ABOUT PONDEROSA ZOO

Ponderosa Zoo (originally Ponderosa Rural Therapeutic Centre) was created in 1991 by Maureen Cook with the aim to ‘bridge the gap’ between disabled and able bodied people through the care of animals as a form of therapy. At the time the centre held a variety of domestic animals including pigs, goats and cattle.

Since its conception Ponderosa Zoo is now home to over 120 animals from lemurs to reindeer. They are a dedicated team of hard working and passionate individuals who aim to promote animal welfare, in addition to educating the public on conservation efforts and the threats many species now face in the wild. In 2017 we took another step in journey by becoming provisional BIAZA members.

Although they are now a much bigger facility with their primary focus being on welfare, education and conservation, they still hold a ‘Bridge the Gap’ vision by ensuring our zoo is always disabled friendly and offering a variety of grounds keeping roles for disabled individuals to gain valuable work experience in a friendly and welcoming environment.

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DISCLAIMER: We received a free family pass for the purpose of this review.

 

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