Are you looking for a change from the usual farmyard friends? Want to see something a bit more exotic, fancy visiting a zoo or maybe to see some of Ireland’s finest birds? We have compiled a list of the Best Places To See Animals In Ireland For A ‘Roarsome’ Day Out:
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In my experience, kids are fascinated by animals of all shapes and sizes. So getting to visit somewhere to see them in real life is a fun experience. Here are places in Ireland where you can get to see all sorts of birds and beasts.
Best Places to See Animals, Birds and Beasts in Ireland
Johnstown Castle & The Irish Famine Museum, Wexford
In addition to the Peacocks that roam freely in the the grounds of Johnstown Castle Estate, the Irish Agricultural Museum building is a nursery roost for one of the largest colonies of Soprano Pipistrelle bats in the country. Each Spring the female bats return to roost, produce and rear their young. The highest count of bats in residence was in May 2017, when 734 bats were counted!
The courtyard at the museum is also home to the Johnstown Swift Project where specially designed nest boxes for swifts like swallows and house martins have been erected to give a home to these birds. They return annually to nest and have their young.
You will have to be eagle eyed to spot a swift as they are the fastest bird in the world when they are in level flight!
National Museum of Ireland – Natural History, Dublin
From the moment you enter the Natural History Museum in Merrion Square you are surrounded by animals. From butterflies, to foxes and elephants to the mighty blue whale, get up close and personal as you explore the many exhibits on display.
Best of all entry is FREE and there are fun trails that children can take to make their visit even more exciting.
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National Bird of Prey Centre, Wicklow
The National Birds of Prey Centre is an outdoor education centre that is home to over 40 different birds of prey including eagles, owls, falcons and hawks from all over the world. Visitors to the centre will have an expert led guided tour of all the birds and can enjoy a handling session with some of the hand reared owls too.
They offer flying displays, tuition, hawk walks, hawks on the hill experience, eagle experience and much more.
A family ticket is €25.00 for 2 adults and up to 4 children.
National Reptile Zoo, Kilkenny
Check out the snakes, lizards, turtles, crocodiles and more at the National Reptile Zoo in Hebron Business Park, Kilkenny City.
Open 10am to 6pm, seven days a week, year round, with over 50 exhibits, Animal Encounter Zone, Nocturnal Realm, Media Room, Education Rooms, Coffee Shop, Souvenir Shop and Play Area.
Situated in Salthill, Galway Atlantaquaria is Ireland’s Largest Native Species Aquarium and offers visitors a family friendly day by the sea.
There are over 100 native species and a wide array of exhibits over two floors at the aquarium.
With regular tours, interactive feeding times, touch pools and holding sessions, there is always something new to learn about the marine life of Ireland.
Tropical World Letterkenny, Donegal
Tropical World is home to a wide range of animals and plants and incorporates a butterfly house and mini zoo with animals and birds including lemurs, marmosets, meerkats, tamarins, owls, parakeets and many different species of butterfly.
It is open seasonally, so do check opening times before you travel.
Stonehall Farm & Wildlife Park, Limerick
A guaranteed great day out for all the family. Not only is Stonehall an educational wildlife park for us, it’s home to Emus, Meerkats, chipmunks, Llamas, Rheas, Wallabys, Parrots, Alpacas, Ostriches and Birds of Prey.
Wrap up warm and enjoy the nature trail walk where you could meet a Red Squirrel or two and enjoy the natural Flora and Fauna.
Stonehall Wildlife Park has lots of entertainment for the smallies too with go-karts and bouncy castles on site.
A family ticket is charged at €35 for two adults and three kids.
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Eagles Flying, Sligo
The Irish Raptor Research Centre, Eagles Flying is situated on 27 acres of parklands in Co. Sligo and offers a fun day out for all the family. Home to more than 450 birds and animals, visitors can enjoy twice daily interactive bird shows showcasing eagles, hawks, vultures, falcons, owls and much more.
For children who want to cuddle, pet and hold the animals, there is a supervised petting zoo with everything from guinea pigs to a python!
Under 3’s go free and a family ticket is €35.90 for 2+2.
Wallaby Woods, Kildare
The family run Wallaby Woods Donadea is home to over 60 species of animals and is set in 16 acres of woodland that includes a well stocked lake.
They have an interactive petting area where you can get up close to wallabies, pygmy African hedgehogs, black swans, emus, snow owls, love birds, giant hares and much more.
In addition they have a pergola for wildlife viewing, outdoor aquarium, zip line, playground, assault course and much more. Under 2’s go free and a family pass for 2+2 is €20 or €25 for 2+3.
Seaforde Gardens, Down
The tropical butterfly house at Seaforde Gardens is home to hundreds of free flying exotic butterflies from around the world. You will also see reptiles, parrots and other animals on your visit.
Afterwards take a stroll around the beautiful gardens where the kids will love getting lost in the maze! It is open seasonally so do check opening times before you make your journey.
Zoological and Marine Biology Museum, Galway
Housed in the Martin Ryan Institute on the main NUI Galway campus, the zoological and marine biology museum is home to over 500 specimens both native and exotic. Visitors can expect to see animal skeletons, stuffed birds & mammals and rare glass models of creatures from the sea.
A highlight of the museum is 4 genuine Charles Darwin specimens. The museum is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm.
Fota Wildlife Park, Cork
Award-winning and one of the most visited tourist attractions in Munster at Fota Wildlife Park you may come face to face with animals and birds from around the globe as you wander through the 70 acre park.
Home to many of the worlds most highly endangered species such as the Lion Tailed Macaque, Rothschild Giraffe, European Bison and Scimitar Horned Oryx. Explore and learn throughout your day.
Under three’s go free.
The National Sea Life Centre, Wicklow
The National Sea Life Centre Bray has over 30 displays including a kids quiz trail, Toxic Terrors, hourly educational feeds and talks.
Open daily from 10 am with a huge selection of marine and freshwater creatures including sharks, seahorses, piranhas, crab and starfish. And if you book online you can save 20% on your tickets.
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World of Owls, Antrim
World of Owls brings both young and old on an educational journey. It is Northern Ireland’s only owl, birds of prey and exotic animal centre. And the primary aim is to ensure the survival of owls throughout the world.
Other animals you will see on your visit include vultures, hawks, eagles, snakes, snails, tarantula and geckos.
A family ticket into World of Owls in County Antrim for two adults and two kids is £18 and each additional child £3.
Coole Park, Galway
One of the most stunning nature reserves in Galway, Coole Park offers a wonderful day out for all the family whether it be to enjoy the nature walks, explore the forest, spot the swans on the lake or head over to enclosure near the visitor centre and go deer spotting.
Coole Park is free to visit and there is free parking on-site.
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Tayto Park, Meath
A once every few years kind of day out as it doesn’t come cheap BUT it is one day your kids (and adults) will always remember. Not only is Tayto Park Ireland’s only theme park, it is a home to hundreds of animals too.
Tayto Park has an exceptional and diverse animal collection which features many conservation dependent species including mountain lions, leopards and tigers. From March to December visitors with a wristband can enjoy a spectacular free flying bird of prey exhibit. Or you can pay €5 per person to see the show which lasts approximately 25 minutes.
Guests will experience dynamic aerial displays featuring the world’s largest eagles and impressive vultures, the fastest and most cunning birds of prey, as well as their iconic and lovable owls.
You can also enjoy ‘Lemur Woods’, an immersive experience with these incredible endangered animals. Set in a large habitat in a natural woodland visitors walk along a looped pathway within the enclosure, creating a fun, dynamic experience giving visitors the opportunity to see and learn all about these fascinating and lovable primates closer than ever before.
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Emma’s Butterfly Garden, Kildare
DEBRA Ireland have created a butterfly garden in the grounds of Killashee Hotel, Kildare. The garden consists of a fountain, butterfly houses and a gazebo and is open to the public and those staying at the hotel.
Dublin Zoo first opened its doors in 1830 and visitors can enjoy 28 hectares of animal fun. With daily talks and feeds it’s best to plan your day around these special events.
You can also enjoy the Eco Explorers Trail, Zoorassic World, Orangutan and Sea-Lion enclosures, the pet farm and the reptile house. A trip to Dublin Zoo really is a great family day out for all ages.
Under three’s go free and a family pass will set you back €49 for two adults and up to four children.
Aillwee Birds of Prey Centre, Clare
A day to remember, the Birds of Prey Centre in the Burren is the home to some of the world’s most magnificent birds including vultures, eagles, hawks and falcons.
Each enclosure in the centre offers a rare opportunity to see, hear, and interact with all the magnificent birds of prey whilst learning about the ancient sport of falconry.
Admissions vary depending what you would like to do and see on the day. Book online for a discounted rate.
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Wild Ireland, Donegal
Step back in time into an ancient woodland inhabited by extinct creatures to experience some of Ireland’s ancient lost wildlife. Walk among the ancient trees and encounter Bears, Wolves, Lynx and Wild Boar on your journey through the past. Their beautiful lake is home to swans, ducks and even a cheeky pair of otters.
There is lots to see and do for children too, take the fairy trail around the rainforest, be delighted with our tales of ancient folklore, play in the state of the art play park and finish off with some tasty treats from the Wild Ireland Shop and café. ‘Wild Ireland’ is located Dundrain, Burnfoot, Co. Donegal.
Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium, Kerry
Situated along the quay side in Dingle Town, Oceanworld Aquarium is where the ocean comes to life. Boasting Ireland’s largest collection of sharks, a polar penguin display featuring Gentoo Penguins, Amazonian displays, a touch tank and a nine-metre underwater tunnel. They also hold daily talks, feeds and reptile encounters.
A family ticket is priced at €43 for two adults and two children and under three’s go free. And you may also be lucky enough to spot the wild dolphin Fungi in Dingle bay too.
For 2019 you can also enjoy the brand new Butterfly Exhibition where tropical butterflies are free to fly from flower to flower and visitors can observe them from a walkway through the jungle!
Belfast Zoological Gardens, Antrim
Open seven days a week with over 130 species and 55 acres to explore there is something for everyone at Belfast Zoo.
Plan your visit around each of the animal talks and feeding times throughout the day and make sure you pop by and see the Western lowland gorilla, keepers hold talks at midday every day of the week.
Under fours go free and they do discounted family rates too.
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Secret Valley Wildlife Park & Zoo, Wexford
With everything from creepy crawlies to lemurs, to farm animal, Secret Valley Wildlife Park and Zoo is set in 14 acres of scenic countryside and offers a wonderful way to get closer to nature with all the family.
If you have a wannabe zookeeper check out Secret Valleys tailor-made experiences as your little one could become a ‘Helper’ for the morning. For €30 they can have a personal experience working with the keepers, feed smaller animals and they will make enrichment toys for the exotic animals.
There are other experiences including meeting meerkats and full and half day keeper experiences.
All prices correct at time of writing but do check before you travel.
Over to you now. Which of these recommended places to see animals have you visited with your child and enjoyed? Tell us in the comments below.