With its unspoilt coastal and countryside environments, Lincolnshire can easily put you in the mood for watching wildlife and seeing some amazing animals. The county boasts plenty of brilliant zoos, aquariums, and rescue centres, as well as thriving natural environments that let you see native creatures living in the wild. So if you’re looking for a wild day out in Lincolnshire, look no further than our pick of the best.
Natureland Seal Sanctuary
Seals can be found all around the coasts of the UK, with both the common and grey variety resident in our waters. Natureland Seal Sanctuary in Skegness has its own colony of common seals that make their home in its Sanctuary Bay pool, as well as a seal hospital where rescued pups are treated, rehabilitated and returned to the wild. The sanctuary is open to the public, so you can view the seals and support the good work being done.
There’s plenty to see here beyond just the seals, too. Natureland houses a range of other amazing animals, including penguins, meerkats, and alpacas, as well as an aquarium, a pets’ corner, and a tropical house containing reptiles and invertebrates, so you certainly won’t run out of things to see.
As an alternative place to visit, further up the coast you’ll find Mablethorpe Seal Sanctuary and Wildlife Centre. Or, if you’d like to see grey seals in their natural environment, you can head to Donna Nook National Nature Reserve – particularly wonderful in November and December, when the seals come to shore to give birth and nurse their pups.
Continuing the aquatic theme, you can find out all about life beneath the waves with a visit to Skegness Aquarium. Its fun pirate theme makes it particularly suitable for kids, who will love the adventurous swashbuckling atmosphere, but visitors of any age will be enthralled by the water-dwelling wildlife on display, which includes sharks, octopuses, and a huge variety of fascinating fish.
Bolder children will also relish the opportunity to come face-to-face with creatures like scorpions, tarantulas, millipedes and rats in Long John Silver’s Creepy Crawly Encounter. And for the particularly brave, Skegness Aquarium offers a special shark dive experience, where participants aged 8+ can take the plunge into a tropical tank and interact with a range of sharks, rays and fish.
Baytree Owl and Wildlife Centre
Make some feathered friends at the Baytree Owl and Wildlife Centre in Spalding, which offers you the chance to meet over 100 birds, with a wide variety of owl species as well as other birds of prey. Don’t miss the amazing flying demonstrations that give you the chance to see these majestic creatures swoop and glide in the air. The centre is also home to a number of other animals, including native wildlife like foxes, field mice, and red squirrels.
Another great place for seeing birds of prey is Woodside Wildlife Park, in Newball, which hosts some fantastic falconry displays. Not only that, but you can watch wolves being fed, handle reptiles, and even come face-to-face with a tiger. While not the biggest wildlife park around, this place has a great range of creatures to see, including monkeys, bats and meerkats, and is definitely worth a visit.
Ark Wildlife Park
Formerly a private exotic animal sanctuary, Ark Wildlife Park is now the UK’s first rescue zoo. The majority of the 180 creatures resident here were once unwanted, mistreated or illegally owned pets who have now been given a permanent home at this fantastic attraction. You’ll see a huge range of creatures, some of which you may not even have heard of. The list includes caimans, tanukis, wallabies, and many more. There’s even the option to partake in special animal experiences where you can meet creatures such as meerkats, lynxes, reptiles and foxes.
There are also outdoor and indoor play areas for little ones, as well as a walking route around a scenic pond brimming with native wildlife. If you're hungry, you can grab some delicious food prepared using fresh local produce at the on-site café.
For a more hands-on animal experience, take a trip to Messingham Zoo near Scunthorpe. A small, family-owned zoo which only opened recently, this place is more focused on smaller creatures, which are nonetheless just as fascinating as their bigger relatives. Meet raccoons, a skunk, and even an arctic fox, as well as others. The friendly staff introduce their visitors to the creatures and provide a range of interesting information, and the personal approach means you may get to handle, pet or feed the animals, making for a unique experience to remember – this small new zoo is definitely worth your time.
…or find your own
Zoos and aquariums are brilliant if you want to see animals up close and personal, but watching them in their natural habitat is a completely different experience that can be incredibly rewarding. Of course, you may need a sharp eye and lots of patience, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll spot what you hoped for, but with a bit of luck and some forward planning, the payoff can be incredible. Lincolnshire is particularly good for birdwatching, with its coastal habitats such as beaches, dunes and marshes providing homes to many species of migratory birds, as well as those that are permanent residents.
The oceanside landscape of Gibraltar Point National Nature Reserve is well worth a look, with different migratory species arriving all throughout the year. Frampton Marsh Nature Reserve is a haven for freshwater birds, as well as species which thrive on the coastal saltmarsh. And Donna Nook National Nature Reserve, as well as the grey seal colony which was mentioned earlier, can also be a brilliant place for birdwatching – though expect some crowds if you go when the seal pups have just been born!
Whichever of these fantastic places you pick to go, we’re sure you’ll enjoy a really wild day out in Lincolnshire, whether you’re seeing animals from around the world or viewing those that live slightly closer to home.