25. Cotswold Birdland Park & Gardens (and its colony of king penguins)

Set on the River Windrush in Bourton-on-the-Water, Cotswold Birdland Park & Gardens is home to over 120 species of birds worldwide.

But the park’s star attraction is undoubtedly its group of king penguins, the only such group in England.

Founded in 1957, Birdland was one of the UK’s original bird gardens. It is home to weird and wonderful species of birds from all over the world, including parrots, owls, flamingos, and birds of prey.

But it is the king penguins who take centre stage at 11am and 2.30pm every day when it is their feeding time. Birdland’s head keeper Alistair Keen said: “At two-and-a-half feet tall they are the world’s second largest species of penguins, and we are the only zoo in England to keep them.”

Visitors to Birdland have the chance to feed the penguins as part of a “feeding experience,” which is memorable and delightful. Other highlights of a visit to Birdland include watching the flamingos being fed (11.30am daily), the pelicans (fed at 3.15pm), and the imposing cassowary, armed with six-inch claws on its long, powerful legs. Owls, parrots, pheasants, hornbills, and cranes are among the other birds also on show.

Birdland’s Encounter Zone allows visitors to meet some of our inhabitants daily. Birds of all shapes, sizes and colours can be seen at Cotswold Birdland.

Cotswold Birdland is home to England’s only group of king penguins.

 or the daily “meet a keeper” talk at 12.15pm, where you can meet owls, parrots, tortoises, rabbits and cockroaches, to name but a few. Other regular events at Birdland include bird-of-prey encounters and reptile awareness days. The two-and-a-half acre nature area has hides for those who love native species. Recent sightings have included water vole, otter, grass snake, hawfinch and tawny owl.

For your convenience and enjoyment, there is a cafe on site (open daily from March to October, weekends only over winter) and a play area designed to give children the chance to burn off some energy. One of Birdland’s newest features is the hatchery, where visitors can see eggs incubating and hatching and witness the miracle of life with the newly emerged chicks.