Review: Get To Know Animals, Epping - The Indoor Mini Zoo

Get To Know Animals (GTKA) Indoor Petting Zoo opened in Essex in February 2023. They were previously based in Chingford, but the new location on the outskirts of Epping (right next to the Miller & Carter roundabout) is much bigger. They describe themselves as an indoor mini zoo and animal experience centre and have nearly 400 animals across 70 species.

Lacoste a californian alligator in a large tank at Get To Know Animals Epping
Next to the Get To Know Animal's reception you can meet Lacoste (she's an Alligator)

Why Visit Get To Know Animals?

  • It is the home to lots of rescue and re-homed small animals.
  • The staff are really friendly and happy to answer any questions you or your children may have.
  • You can go round in your own time and stay as long as you want.
  • They offer animal handling experiences as a paid extra (bookable on the day).

What We Thought of Get To Know Animals, Indoor Mini Zoo in Epping

We loved visiting Get To Know Animals and seeing the range of animals they have. The new venue is much larger than their old one, but it is still definitely a mini zoo and it doesn’t take long to get around.

Entrance Cost

The full price tickets are £10 for adults and £8.50 for under 11’s/ over 65. Comparative to other nearby zoo’s (Colchester Zoo, Whipsnade Zoo and Paradise Wildlife Park for instance) it is around half the price, but these other venues are a full day experience, where as I wouldn’t expect most people to spend more than an hour at GTKA. 

They have reduced the prices from the initial opening prices. So full price for my family of 5 would now cost £40 instead of £67.50, which is a much better price. I recognise that it costs a lot of money to care for the animals as well as they do at GTKA and that they struggled as a business during COVID. The prices haven’t been set to create a huge money making business, but rather to help cover their costs and keep them in business. The new prices mean we are more likely to go back. They now also have great weekday term time offers of a parent and child for £10 (between 10am and 3pm) or after school visits for £5 per person.  Go here for details and to buy tickets. There are various voucher sites offering animal handling etc, but with the details of the previous location so I would double check before booking anything mentioning the Chingford location. 

Squirrel Monkey enclosure at get to know animals in Epping
Chatting with a squirrel monkey

The Animals 

There is a wide range of animals at Get To Know Animals including chameleon, opossum, frogs, parrots, tortoise, geckos, iguanas, snakes, birds, Chinese water dragon, skunk, squirrel monkeys and Lacoste the Alligator. The animals range from shy and hard to see, like the binturong, to very very loud like the macaw (or some type of loud parrot anyway).

The mini zoo is divided into different areas. You have:

  • the entrance area with squirrel monkeys, an aquarium and the alligator,
  • the "Furry room" with rabbits, mice, ferret etc,
  • a main room with an aviary, reptiles, insects and the binturong, 
  • a night room for animals that prefer a darker, quiet environment,
  • another fish tank
  • a final room with Peck and Perch and the Zoovenir Shop.

Each enclosure has an sign on it, in it or near it saying what the animal is, where it is native to, it's natural habitat, diet, normal size/ weight and average life span. The signs are slightly camouflaged and aren't always easy to spot. Each animal also has a name, but you have to ask for those.

As is the way with any zoos you can’t always see every animal as they often like to hide away. If visiting at the weekend or holidays it is likely that more animals will be hiding as it will be busier. It’s important that animals have space to sleep or hide if they are scared from all the activity. This sadly does mean you won’t always see every animal. We really wanted to see the skunks, but they were sleeping. 

There are also some animals we couldn’t see because to make best use of space a few of the tanks are very high. I think these are mostly animals where they have more than one so some will be lower down. You will need to lift small children up to see in some of the tanks, but there are also some right on the floor which are easier for children to see into than adults. 

I found it a little frustrating that if an animal has been removed from its enclosure temporarily eg for animal handling or just for a cuddle with a ranger you won’t know so you can be looking for ages to try and spot an animal that isn’t actually there. This is unlikely to be the case for more than a few animals at a time though. 

Overall I think it is a lovely addition to the area. They have a good wide range of animals from really cute rabbits to lesser known reptiles. They have a lot of animals for their size so they have been creative on the use of space to fit them in and give each animal the room they need eg make sure you go through the door to the toilets or you will miss some tanks with frogs and toads in (blue dart frogs are a particular favourite).

Large iguana and a tortoise at the mini zoo
Rhinoceros iguana and a tortoise

A preschooler looking at a tank with Blue poison dart frogs at Get To Know Animals
Counting the Blue Poison Dart Frogs

Animal Handling Experiences

Children will love the animal handling experiences and they start at a good price. To hold a single “furry” or “reptile” costs only £5 (excluding the snakes and iguana which cost more). The experiences can last up to 20 minutes, but this will depend on how the animal is getting on. If the animals are showing signs of distress or aren’t in the mood then they will be put back in their enclosure. 

You can book animal handling when you are there, in fact they encourage you to go round the mini zoo and then come back to the reception if you want to book an experience. There is no pressure to book one though. 

In the packages you get to hold multiple animals (generally 6 in the Reptile and Furry Packages and 3 in the Snake Package) and there is also an ultimate animal handler session for £100 where you will get lots of time to meet numerous animals. 

While animal handling is not included in the entry price the rangers had a few animals out while we were there so my children got to touch the bearded dragon and a ferret.

A girl cuddling a super soft white rabbit as part of an animal handling experience
Choosing to hold a rabbit at a Animal Handling Experience at Get To Know Animals, Epping

What Else to Know Before Visiting 

You can find Get To Know Animals at:
Forest Lodge Commercial Complex,
Epping Road,
CM16 5HW. 

It's a 2 mile walk from the nearest station (Theydon Bois, Central Line), it's a short drive from Junction 26 of the M25 (although there are lots of pot holes on Woodridden Hill so drive carefully) and bus routes 66, 66A, 35 and 620 run nearby (get off at Wake Arms/ Miller & Carter roundabout).


Parking outside can be challenging at busy times.  We visited at a weekend and there was no where to park (although by the time my partner had parked elsewhere and walked back there were 2 spaces available). 

If you do park outside I believe you need to leave your car details on a tablet next to reception.

If you can’t park in Forest Lodge Commercial Complex then there is the Lodge Road car park in the forest (CM16 5HW) and the Miller & Carter car park within 5 minutes walk. The Miller & Carter car park is large and free. Get To Know Animals say you can park there (both in person and on their website) so although the sign says customers only I would assume they have made some sort of agreement.  Lodge Road car park is further away and you have to pay using the RingGo app. It is currently £2.50 for 2 hours.

What Age Is It Best For?

The mini zoo is suitable for all ages. There were lots of families when we visited, but adult only visits are welcomed too. Children under 2 are free. I can't see a minimum age for experiences, but you would need to ensure your child is going to be gentle and interested. 

There is a buggy park outside and while I didn't ask if pushchairs are allowed in it would be a squeeze and make it difficult for people and rangers to get past as walkways are narrow. I would recommend bringing a baby carrier for babies so they can see the animals easily and encouraging toddlers to walk as it isn't very big. 


In the last room before you leave the mini zoo there is a small combined shop and cafe with a couple of tables. 


There are toilet facilities onsite.

Opening Hours

Open Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 6pm (last entry 4.30pm). Prebooking recommended. You book a one hour time slot, but you can arrive at any point in the hour and stay as long as you like. I think the time slots are mainly to spread the flow of visitors out. It's worth giving them a call or stopping by if you haven't booked as they may well be able to accommodate you. 

How Long Will A Visit Take?

We were in the mini zoo for less than an hour which included holding a rabbit. If you or your children love spending ages staring at animals and asking questions you might end up staying there for longer. If your children are going to want to whizz though and barely look you could be out in 10 minutes. 

A fish tank with fish including a ray
There are two fish tanks with fish, one near the beginning and one near the end

The GTKA's website is currently a little out of date, especially their FAQs, many of which are still related to their previous location and when they ran a mobile zoo for parties etc in people’s homes. They now have a party room onsite so they offer parties and group bookings at their Epping location instead of remotely. Photos, reviews etc prior to their full opening in the new location in February 2023 will be out of date.

Things To Do Nearby Get To Know Animals

The Theydon Bois playground and duck pond (off Poplar Row) is a 5 minute drive (free street parking on Poplar Row and The Green, but restricted times). 

Further afield there is also Stonards Hill Playground (CM16 4QF) at the other end of Epping High Street (free parking) or Traps Hill Playground (IG10 1SZ) next to Loughton Library at the near end of the high street).

Explore Epping Forest from right next to the mini zoo or drive to High Beach for the Visitors Centre (open Friday to Sunday).

At Gunpowder Park (EN9 3GP) you can enjoy a walk and look for birds on the lake. Most of this park is suitable for cycling and scooting. You have to pay for parking via an app. 

Waltham Abbey is an interesting place to explore including the final resting place of King Harold (the one that probably isn't shown getting shot in the eye in the Bayeux Tapestry, but did die in 1066). There is also the Epping Forest museum in Sun Street which is free, but is probably most of interest to children during school holidays when they have additional activities on.

No comments

Thanks for your comment (unless it's spam in which case, why?)