It’s hard to believe when you visit the award-winning Newquay Zoo, that it started out as a pet’s corner just 50 years ago. Today it is one of the best tourist attractions in the southwest and has many important conservation projects in place.

It was successfully developed in the late 1990s by Mike Thomas and Roger Martin and became affiliated with St Austell College, offering a BTEC in Animal Management and a program for Zoological Conservation Management along with an excellent educational facility. After joining forces with the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust (owners of Living Coasts and Slapton Ley among other reserves), Newquay Zoo is now a recognized breeding centre for endangered species.

Visitors can happily spend a day in these lovely tropical garden grounds discovering new animals and old favourites among the 130 animal species. Red pandas, Siberian lynx, lemurs, Madagascan fossas, cute meerkats, penguins and sloths all happily pose for the camera.

The zoo is presented in different zones with the Tropical House innovatively shaped as a Mayan temple. Bats, birds and monkeys are high up in the area above basking iguanas and other tree-dwellers. On the ground is a series of pools with colourful tropical fish. If you look carefully, you may spot snakes, skinks, dart frogs and other tropical minibeasts along with the Hoffmann's Sloth in a special enclosure.

In the rainforest section you will find the world’s smallest monkey, a pygmy marmoset. This hot and steamy atmosphere is ideal for parrots, golden-headed tamarinds, turtles and mouse deer to feel very at home. The viewing platform over the African Savanna area is a great way to see black wildebeest, antelope, waterbuck, zebra and ostrich.

Check out the times of the special events, which are always very informative and entertaining. There are feeding times when zookeepers are happy to answer your questions. Follow the Tarzan Trail and get lost in the Dragon Maze or visit the gift shop packed with animal-related gifts and toys. You can even take home a souvenir bag of “zoopoo” courtesy of the elephant enclosure!

The zoo is very easy to reach from your Newquay holiday rental. Located on Edgcumbe Road it is a 10-minute walk from the town centre. During the summer you can also hop aboard the Surf Rider Train, which circulates the main highlights of the area.