Top Local Places

Ponderosa Zoo

Off Smithies Lane, Heckmondwike, United Kingdom



From the endangered lemurs of Madagascar to the rare Scottish Wildcat. Plus handling and feeding opportunities with a variety of our animals!

The Ponderosa Rural Therapeutic Centre was established by a group of people who wanted to help bridge the gap between disabled and able bodied people. We enable disabled volunteers to work alongside our friendly staff to assist with the care of our much loved animals.

Attractions -
Ponderosa offers much more than just a visit to see the animals. We have plenty of attractions including:

- Reptile Room
- Zip Wire slide
- Beach with a pirate ship
- Several outdoor play areas
- Indoor soft play gym
- Fantastic restaurant
- Ice Cream Parlour
- Pony rides
- Animal feeding and handling opportunities
- Picnic areas

.... and lots more including a brand NEW adventure playground!


We still have a few tickets left call 01924 235276

*Only a few tickets left, book yours whilst you still can! We look forward to seeing you there!

Are you looking for something to do today? Come along to Ponderosa between 10am - 5pm (last entry 4pm) to see a variety of animals. whilst you are here why not visit the pumpkin patch to design your very own pumpkin.

We still have plenty of pumpkins to go around. Pumpkin carving is taking place between 11am - 3pm daily throughout half term! 🎃 👻

***In regards to the recent claims made against Ponderosa.... 'Not only is Ponderosa about providing high standards of animal welfare and education, it is also a place for the community. We look after over 60 people a day with mild to severe learning disabilities, this allows them to gain training and gain social opportunities. There is a variety of roles these individuals fulfil, including working alongside staff members at the zoo itself, helping to build things for the enclosures and shredding recycled cardboard for animal bedding. This is an expensive programme to run, but the process of creating something and seeing the finished product is invaluable to that individual. A lot of this work is behind the scenes, we welcome anyone to come and see the positive changes Ponderosa has made to their lives, for a lot of them they live to do this. It is a real shame that some people can place us under a bad light when we help so many people, along with adhering to all inspections carried out by both Kirklees Council and international accredited vets. If you have any further concerns please contact me and I will explain and show you the full story.' Howard Cook MBE ............................................ Our team here would first like to address the main concern over the Coatis; these are two young Coatis that were actually hand reared by the staff at the Zoo, who wouldn’t have survived without their care. Recently we have noticed pacing behaviour occur shortly before their afternoon feed. We would like to reassure those that have concerns that this does not occur after feeding or at any other time of the day. Pacing behaviour can often be misinterpreted as a sign of stress, however in this case it shows anticipation over food as it was almost feeding time. The second video shared shows the Coati pacing on the higher wall. She does this when the keeper is approaching the entrance with the food. This can be likened to a dog running in circles before being taken for a walk. The behaviour goes on no longer than a few minutes and is interrupted with other behaviours, it is not constant. Our Coatis are provided with a variety of enrichment, which we appreciate may not be immediate for our customers to spot. During feeding they are scatter fed, along with food being hidden and placed in hard to reach areas. They are given mealworms at lunchtime which are buried underneath the bark at the front of the enclosure. They are given puzzle boxes along with locusts in their evening feed. Their enclosure is often rearranged along with new branches and hides for them to explore. We are always working on enrichment rotations, including working with other zoos and vets on how we can always improve. The Asian short clawed otters are very vocal at the moment. Akira our female arrived with us recently from another zoo. They are still settling in with one another, but are getting on brilliantly. Vinnie our male is heavily imprinted on humans, he immediately becomes vocal when a staff member is in sight or around feeding times. It’s a begging behaviour which you can see in many species without them being classed as distressed. Their pond is fitted with a filter and is of the recommended size for the species, however we will be adding a waterfall over winter to provide further stimulation. Again, the otters are provided with the same enrichment as our Coatis, you can often see them playing with the pebbles around their pond. Our Reindeer enclosure is one of the largest enclosures we have here at Ponderosa, with three Reindeer currently occupying it. The enclosure contains two shelters one of which is currently closed off. It was even suggested by our vet to house more Reindeer as it is very large space for the amount we currently have. We'd hope you'd appreciate that this comment has come from a vet who has years of experience in the zoo industry. In regards to the comment about the grazing, Reindeers are not grazers, they are browsers. The Reindeers are given a hard feed along with vegetables which provides them with all the nutrients they need. In addition during the winter months hay it placed within the trees as a form of enrichment. Throughout the year they are provided with salt licks and have recently been given treat balls as part of their enrichment programme, which you will have mostly likely have seen our horses use as well. In the wild Reindeers would walk hundreds of miles on rough terrain. The hill in their enclosure is ideal for re-creating this. In regards to our Raccoon dogs, one was re homed last week and the remainder of the pups are soon to be moved on to other zoos as well. No more breeding of Raccoon dogs will take place at Ponderosa as the sexually mature male has been neutered. We currently have one male separated due to signs of aggression beginning to be displayed towards him from the younger males. Our raccoon dogs mainly sleep throughout the day which can also be seen in their wild counter parts. The separated male is a lot older than the other raccoon dogs we house and therefore is less active. In the evening he is always roaming around searching for the food distributed by the keepers and he does not display any stereotypies whatsoever. ‘Looking depressed’ which had been mentioned is not a stereotypic behaviour. All the raccoon dogs we house are contained using mesh. This allows air flow and perfect ventilation which can clearly be seen in the photo that has been shared. The enclosure they live in is an outdoor enclosure. Certain parts are exposed to the elements whilst others are protected from them and this can be seen clearly on a rainy day. We would also like to add that their enclosure is twice the size of what has been photographed. The separation is temporary and the welfare of the pups is not being sacrificed due to this measure. The tortoise enclosure did not contain litter. This was a shred of recycled cardboard that is used as animal bedding and is not harmful to the animals. The dishes filmed did contain water, however the bowls are discoloured from the sunlight. We completely appreciate that this may appear to make the water look ‘dirty’. However, the water is changed and the bowls are cleaned daily. This can be shown by the fact you could see the discolouration of the bottom of the bowl through the clear water. We do have staff supervising the tortoises as much as possible, we hope our customers understand that here or at any zoo it is almost impossible to always have a staff member monitoring every enclosure at all times of day. There are signs not to go over barriers and reach into enclosures, which unfortunately some people chose to ignore. The same goes for the comment made on parents poking the animals with sticks. This is something that if witnessed by a keeper would immediately be stopped, but again not every animal can be monitored at all points throughout the day. All the enclosures we have are either within or above the recommend sizes provided by DEFRA, which is ideal for the number of animals housed within them. We have a strict husbandry routine, whereby spot cleans are carried out twice daily and full cleans no less than once per week. Evidence can be found in our records books which are checked by the council, vets and are evident in our zoo license reports. This also clarifies that water changes occur daily for every single animal we house here. Our recent inspection was carried out by two members of the local council. The internationally accredited vet, Matt Brash and Andrew Greenwood from the international zoo vet group. Not only did we meet the requirements for holding a zoo licence but we were also awarded exemplary feedback. In addition we work with multiple zoos and studbook keepers to make sure we are always up-to-date with the latest welfare practises. Every member of staff is qualified and experienced in the field they work in and care greatly about the welfare of these animals. We appreciate any concerns in regards to animal welfare and encourage anyone to contact us directly where any issues can be discussed. The Ponderosa Team

*Public notice update* Ponderosa is a fully accredited and licenced Zoo. We are subjected to regular checks by an inspector appointed by the Secretary of State and the local Animal Health Officer. Our last inspection took place on 9 June 2017 and was undertaken by an internationally respected vet, Matt Brash and the Kirklees Animal Health Officer, David Hamer. Along with the support of Andrew Greenwood from the International Zoo Vet Group. The result of that routine inspection was positive and we retained our operator’s licence. Improvements are always ongoing to ensure all the animals are well cared for which shows in our zoo inspection reports, which are carried out regularly. If anyone requires specific information please do not hesitate to email ourselves at Kind regards, The Ponderosa Team

We are holding another SKA night! After the hugely popular event in July, we welcome back Ska House to The Lakeside Restaurant on Friday 17th November. Ska House will take to the stage at 8.30pm and bring you a night filled with Ska, Two Tone, Reggae, plus their own original twists on your favourites from the 60's to the 00's! FRIDAY 17th NOVEMBER DOORS: 7:30pm TICKETS: £5adv / £7otd * ALL AGES WELCOME! Please note: The previous event sold out very quickly - so to avoid disapointment please call us on 01924 235 276 to pre book tickets. We can't wait to see you all there!

We're going to be celebrating Halloween here at Ponderosa this half term! To be in with a chance of winning a free family pass to attend the event, which you can use on any one day between the 21st - 29th October just like and share this post! 👻 🎃💀 To book tickets as places are limited please call 01924 235 276 Prices..... Under 2's - £3 Child (Aged 2 -16) - £8.95 Adult - £5.50 Family (2 adults + 2 children) - £27.95 Family (1 adult + 3 children) - £30.95 Tickets Include.... Entry to the zoo, Reptile talk and handling session, access to the pumpkin patch + take your carved pumpkin home and 1hr in the playbarn or a pony ride! *Age and weight restrictions apply for pony rides *Playbarn suitable for under 8's only

Today we have a Balloon Maker on the farm between 11am - 4pm

Do you have the hoilday Blues. Why not come along to ponderosa to join in the Beach Party. The party starts 11am - 4pm. the party starts 11am - 4pm


Today we have a falconary dipslay team, please come along and see the birds of prey. Between 11am - 4pm