The outskirts of Heckmondwike is not the first place you imagine an animal park to be. However, Ponderosa Zoo has been there for a number of years and apparent investment in the park and animals has breathed new life into the venue.

Ponderosa Zoo Animals

Ponderosa Zoo has two functions; one being an entertainment attraction, but the other is that it is a place for therapy for people. As such, the animals at Ponderosa Zoo are on the smaller, friendlier side!

There are meerkats, reptiles, birds, otters, reindeers and many, many more.   In late October, they have just introduced wallabies so it will be interesting to see how they take to Heckmondwike!!

Ponderosa Zoo isn’t a huge attraction, and as such, it is quite child/toddler friendly. It will probably take a couple of hours to walk round, with a few stops at the play areas thrown in. However, it does get a bit chilly and muddy, therefore pack an extra jumper and wellies, just in case!! Although there is mud, Ponderosa Zoo has paths all the way round, so it is pram-proof!

Ponderosa Zoo tortoise
My favourite!

There are a number of talks throughout the day and it is best to look on the website at the times, before planning a visit. The animal handling talks are usually the most popular talks and it is usually a good idea to plan around those. The staff are really friendly, especially during the talks and are happy to answer any questions about the animals.

Ponderosa Zoo holding animals
You don’t have to do this!!

Perhaps most importantly, the animals looked to be well cared for and happy. By no means is this an educated view, but it is important to mention.

Halloween Trail

For Halloween 2019, for an extra £3, you can take part in the Halloween Trail. This is where you have to find 10 “gravestones” of extinct animals hidden around the park.

You’re looking for these!

It isn’t too difficult, although we did see one family struggling to find the last one!! If you complete it, you get a “small treat” which in our case was a lolly.

Check out my pumpkins!

However, the main part of the trail is getting to do pumpkin carving, with no danger of getting hurt!! In the “pumpkin patch”, you can select a pumpkin and a member of staff will cut the top off for you. Then you need to scoop it out (spoons and baby wipes are provided!). After that, you draw your design and allow the staff to do the carving.

Ponderosa Zoo pumpkins
Check out our designs

For £3, it is really good value for money, and you don’t have to pick up a knife at all!! I would do the pumpkin patch towards the end, just so you aren’t carrying it around Ponderosa Zoo. However, as it takes them a few minutes to do the carving, I wouldn’t leave it until the last moment either.

Play Areas

There are a few decent sized play areas for the little ones to burn off some energy. There is the ship and huge sand play area, which is brilliant in summer.

Ponderosa Zoo play area

There is also 2 sets of climbing frames, both of which are a little bit different. However, they have slides and allow the children to climb and run around.

Ponderosa Zoo play area 2

There is also the indoor play area (extra charge applies) but this is closing in early November 2019.  However, they are keeping its replacement well under wraps!!


At Ponderosa Zoo, there is a indoor ice cream/snack outlet, as well as the Lakeside restaurant. The restaurant is often used for functions and so check before you set off whether it is open or not. The Sunday carvery smelt terrific however, when we popped in to use the toilets there!

Speaking of toilets, there are plenty dotted around so you shouldn’t be too far from one!

Car parking is free (yes, free!) and plentiful and there is a small gift shop at the entrance/exit.


All in all, if you’re looking for lions, tigers or bears, Ponderosa Zoo isn’t for you. But if you’re looking for an afternoon out where the children have space to play and see smaller animals, then you can’t go wrong with Ponderosa Zoo.

Disclosure: For the purposes of this blog post, we received free entry to Ponderosa Zoo for the Halloween Trail. However, we have previously paid entry prices, on numerous occasions. This blog post has not been edited by Ponderosa Zoo, nor any influence made on it.

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