We started our weekend break at Marwell Zoo near Winchester (which we had heard good things about before our visit to Hampshire). Holly in particular loves animals and was really looking forward to her zoo experience and what it had to offer, especially as it’s home to so many rare species of animals.
Shortly after walking through the entrance we had a taste of what was to come as we came face to face with the first of the many Lego dinosaurs on display as part of their Brickosaurs event (more on this later as it did make our day at the zoo much more engaging and enjoyable)
We began our zoo adventure at Marwell on the hop-on hop-off land train which loops around the front part of the park, which gave us a good overview of the zoo and how vast it was (it covers 140 acres).
The zoo has tried to create natural habitats for the animals across themed areas so it was like being on a mini walking safari in Hampshire, the problem we found was trying to spot the animals, but that could have been down to the bad weather when we visited.
There was also the rail train (£2.50 per person) which takes guests on a more scenic route around the paddocks housing many of the zoo’s animals.
Since we had the opportunity to feed the beautiful Rothschild’s giraffes at Folly Farm on their zookeeper experience, giraffes have been one of our favourite animals and it was great to see them at Marwell, although they decided to spend the majority of our visit indoors. I can’t blame them, especially as it was one of the windiest days of the summer.
We walked across the impressive walkway which extends right into the enclosure of the giraffes and zebras which provided us with stunning views of their paddock where we spent time watching the zebras exploring their surroundings.
Elsewhere there is plenty to see and do, from viewing the fascinating white rhinos from the jeep at this cleverly themed enclosure.
Elsewhere on our zoo adventure we enjoyed watching the amur tiger having its lunch whilst spotting penguins, lemurs, red panda, siamang monkeys and more as we explored the zoo.
Each animal enclosure has facts on display providing us the opportunity to learn more about the animals and an insight into the conservation work that the zoo runs as many of its 135 species of animals like the amur leopard (where only 60 remain in the wild) and the scimitar-horned oryx are extinct in the wild.
One of the non-animal highlights for the girls were its five adventure playgrounds dotted around the zoo, each one different and at each one we had to stop so they could test it out.
One of my personal favourites was the stunning Tropical House which can be best described as walking through a rainforest which is home to an incredible range of plants and animals including tortoises, sloths (which we missed out on) and the birds and butterflies that freely roam around the house.
What makes the Tropical House more impressive were its eco credentials, it’s the first in the UK to generate its own power for the zoo using animal poo, and there must be plenty of it across the zoo.
We also liked spotting the variety of fish on display at the 70,000 litre aquarium which is also home to a crocodile monitor lizard and watching the daily workings of leaf cutter ants at their colony.
The wallaby walkthrough was also fun and the weaver birds in the aviary caught our eye as walked through their enclosure.
As well as real-life animals, what made Marwell stand out for the kids was its Brickosaurus interactive exhibition (which runs until 1st September) as it made us explore every corner of the zoo following the Lego dinosaur trail.
It took a team of LEGO specialists 969 days and more than two million LEGO bricks to create the 50 dinosaurs on the Jurassic Park like trail. Each Brickosaur has facts on the type of dinosaur it was and the amount of Lego bricks it took to re-create it.
Outside the stunning Grade 1 listed Marwell Hall we came across one of the most impressive of the dinosaurs on display , an eight metre long Tyrannosaurs Rex . Close by was base camp an interactive Lego area with two large pits of Lego and Duplo to create your own dinosaur masterpiece.
If you are visiting Hampshire, a visit to Marwell Zoo should definitely be on your list especially if your children love animals and Lego. It ticks all the boxes for a fantastic day out.