You will recall, I am sure, of my recent trip earlier in 2021 to the Highland Wildlife Park. It was a lovely place to visit, where we saw baby tigers and big polar bears. I was happy with that. I was content. Until someone said I should go and visit the Yorkshire Wildlife Park too. And dear reader, should you ever give me the opportunity to judge the merits of one thing over another, I shall take it with both hands, both feet and I’ll snap at you with my teeth too. I don’t always judge out loud, but when I do, I’ll blog about it.
So that’s what we did. A lovely trip down t’Yorkshire was had, and an adventure with the family to see even more animals began. So let me tell you about the delights to be found at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park, and then put it to battle mercilessly with the Highland Wildlife Park and see which one comes out the victor!
Two parks enter, one park leaves…
I’m not going to pretend that the tigers weren’t one of the main reasons we went. Tigers are amazing, and the tigers in Yorkshire really gave us a show! At one point, Mr. Chief Tiger (not his official name) was prowling around the fences giving out ear-shattering roars! A tiger’s roar is not what I thought it would sound like, incidentally. More like a mooaahhhhhh than a roooaarrr. Make of that what you wish.
There’s a fantastic walk around the tiger enclosure so you are always quite likely to at least see one.
I didn’t get to record a roar, but here is how close we got to a tiger, and the Wifey’s audition for the inevitable reboot of Challenge Anneka.
We also had a great experience watching the polar bears. They were having a lovely play when we got to them and stayed for a while. There was a keeper on hand talking about what they were doing and who they were, which was lovely.
It should also be said that giraffes are amongst the coolest animals in the world. Not only are they literally aloof, they walk and run with as much style as they possibly can manage, and you have to give them credit for trying.
Wildlife Parks – FIGHT!
So if I could only visit one park again, which would it be? Let’s see why I would like one over the other.
Why I liked The Highland Wildlife Park over the Yorkshire
The biggest pro for me was that there is an actual safari bit that you can drive around at the HWP. I love these things, where you can get up close to the animals and see them just chillin’ and hanging about, like what they have at Blair Drummond. It also has the advantage of ensuring that your car is always handy, as you need to have easy access to it so you can go on the safari, whenever you want and however many times you need. A centrally accessible car is perfect for a family trip as then you don’t need to carry all the changes of clothes, picnic and nappies around with you all day. The YWP car park was frikkin’ miles away, and it has no driving safari experience at all.
The HWP is very walkable. Its size means that if you don’t see something the first time you go around, you can go around soon afterwards to try again. That’s not to say the park is small – it isn’t. But it is a place that you can see all of at least twice in one day, and that’s a good thing. No tigers in the morning? Try again later!
Why I like the Yorkshire Wildlife Park over the Highland
All things considered, the YWP just feels a bit more polished, a bit more like a destination. It has had some lovely new sections added for shopping, and new parts for the animals too. The roads are well maintained too. It felt like it has come into money, and the HWP was maybe its poorer but still impressive cousin.
The park is big. This means there’s loads of animals to see, and it’s a great place to spend a day strolling around. There’s so many animals that if you don’t see something, it’s not that big of a deal.
So what’s the best wildlife park?
This is a really tough shout. I had a great time at both, and would be more than happy to go back to either. But if I have to pick just one – and I wrote myself into this corner so I guess I have to – I’d go for Yorkshire. Simply because it was such a big place with so many animals and shops and places to walk. But I didn’t like that it didn’t have a safari experience, and the car was really REALLY far away so there is no real chance of nipping back for anything during the day.
I wouldn’t want to put anyone off going to either park though. Our boys had brilliant days on both occasions. But at the end of the day at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park, we had an amazing experience with a prancing roaring tiger that echoed all across the park. This was magical, and purely by chance. But it’s these small, unplanned moments that really make a day, and I was lucky to have that here.