Review: Get To Know Animals Mini Zoo in Chingford East London

If you are looking for information about the newly open Epping Get To Know Animals read my review here. This post is about the Chingford branch which has closed.

Last week we headed to Chingford, East London, to check out the new “mini Zoo” Get to Know Animals. It consists of 2 rooms filled with, mostly rescue, animals. It is the new concept from the owners which previously owned a pet shop on Debden broadway and who run various animal experiences eg bringing a selection of animals to birthday parties.

Edit: The Chingford branch is now closed to make way for the new, larger zoo in Epping. It will still be a mini zoo, but around 10 times bigger than their (tiny) Chingford Location. It is located off the High Road going to Epping just after the Miller & Carter roundabout. It is due to be open to the public from October, but they have announced a number of advanced preview days where during a 2 hour visit which includes a 40 minute interactive animal handling show where you can meet some of the animals. These cost £25 per person and are taking place on August 31st and 1st, 2nd, 4th, 11th and 18th September between 10am and 6pm (early advanced booking recommended here).

The outside of Get To Know Animals is a converted shop front with jungle themed stickers
Get To Know Animals Mini Zoo is on Kings Road, Chingford

As regular visitors to the pet shop because of the variety of interesting creatures they had in there we would spend 5 minutes looking at them all and then drop a donation in a box on the counter on the way out. The business struggled due to the high business rates in Loughton and the competition from the newly opened Pets at Home in the nearby retail park. Eventually they were forced out of business, but narrowly avoided bankruptcy and opened the new venture 7 months later at 6 Kings Road, Chingford, E4 6EY. 

A long thin room with small animal enclosures along 2 1/2 sides
The main room at Get To Know Animals

The second room at Get To Know Animals mini Zoo has glass enclosures with reptiles in
The second room at Get To Know Animals has snakes, a gecko, birds and other small animals

The Animals At Get To Know Animals, Chingford

The animals in the shop all seem happy in their new surroundings after being in slightly more crowded conditions while the shop was opened. They are all well loved and you can see the affection between staff and animals.

The range of animals is wide from millipedes to hedgehogs, a skunk to a python and rats to jellyfish. They took plenty of time to take my 3 year old daughter and I round each enclosure and kept her engaged while teaching her about them. They have several animals I hadn’t heard of before including: a crocodile skink, skinny pigs and a tegu (they also have a degu or two if you are into rhyming). Even the animals I did know I learnt new things about like how jellyfish feed and why the skunk probably wont make a stink.

A 3 year old with bunches pointing at a cage with little mice in
looking at mice

A skunk in it's enclosure at Get To Know Animals in Chingford
a skunk

A hand hold a crocodile skink which looks like a tiny crocodile crossed with a dragon
A cute little crocodile skink

A preschooler being shown a stick insect when visiting a mini zoo review in Chingford East London
Meeting a stick insect

A staff member is pointing at some little jelly fish and explaining how they feed
Learning how jelly fish feed

A large black rabbit that roams free at Get To Know Animals
A large free roaming rabbit

What You Need To Know Before Visiting Get to Know Animals

We visited on a week day afternoon and were welcome to stay as long as we liked, but after an hour we were ready to move on. I would expect it to be busier after school and weekends (it’s open 10 to 7pm Tuesday to Saturdays and 11 - 4pm on a Sunday).

My only criticism is the price for the size of the “mini zoo”. It is just 2 small rooms and for £6.50 standard entry (for both children and adults) it’s not somewhere I could afford to go often. I didn't have to pay for Baby Boy. I understand they need to make enough money to look after the animals and pay bills, but I suspect the price will prohibit repeat visits from families who could go to a larger farm park where they could spend the day for a similar price.

I really want to support this business and I would encourage people to visit, but with awareness of what you can expect and the price to avoid disappointment. For additional charges you can handle the animals too, but I haven't seen the prices advertised.

The staff are all really friendly and knowledgeable. There are free roaming little dogs and large rabbit which are all really lovely to stroke and say hello to.

It is all one level so suitable for pushchairs but children in pushchairs wont be able to see most of the animals. At busy times pushchairs will be in the way as there isn’t a lot of space. They had a step my daughter could stand on to see in the higher enclosures.

There is a toilet, but no parking (not that those are related facts other than both useful to know when visiting). I would suggest parking in the pay and display on Richmond Road just off the High Street, it’s just a few minutes walk away. There may be some street parking in nearby streets, but I don’t know what the restrictions are.

A toilet with forest wallpaper and fake grass stuck to the walls
When the toilet looks like this how couldn't I take a photo?

Other Things To Do In Chingford With Children

If in Chingford with small children you might also like to visit the small under 5s soft play area at the back of Costa on the High Street (it costs £3.95 for an hour). For older children a visit to the Craft Cabin where you can paint ceramics and do other crafts would be a fun option.

You can find out more about Get To Know Animals on their website (which currently needs updating to include the mini zoo) or Facebook.

***Disclosure: I paid for entry. ***

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