Facilities 2011-06-22T22:04:58+00:00

We have a wide range facilities and we try to cater for everyones needs, but if there is something else you think we could provide as a service, please let us know.

The Brown Bear Café is open every day, 10 am to 5 pm (during the summer and reduced hours in the winter)!
You can even visit the Café if you’re not visiting the Zoo as it is conveniently located just outside the main entrance.

The Brown Bear Café offers a selection of reasonably priced snacks and light lunches including soup, sandwiches, toasties and paninis. Also available are a selection of hot and cold drinks, cakes, biscuits and sweets. Children’s lunch boxes are only £4.00 which include a sandwich, yoghurt, fruit, sweets, small chocolate bar, crisps and a drink.

On cold days the log fire is on and a warm, friendly welcome awaits you!

Our ticket desk is located just inside the main entrance to the Zoo.

Here you can purchase your Zoo tickets, as well as Handling Session tickets (£2 per person) and Feed the Lemurs tickets (£5 per person).

It is best to purchase these additional tickets as soon as you arrive to ensure you get the times you want! Unfortunately none of these sessions can be booked in advance.

We accept card payments (not American Express), although there is no cashback facility on site.

A large picnic area is situated within the Zoo itself where you will find a number of picnic benches as well as a large grassy area for the children to run about on.

During peak times both the ice cream parlour and two snack bars in this area are open. The snack bar serves burgers/hot dogs, rolls on bacon and sausage, chips, and a selection of hot and cold drinks, all reasonably priced.


Within the main Zoo, located next to the picnic area, we have a fantastic outdoor kiddies play area, complete with the pirate ship from the old outdoor castle play area, swings, slides, teacups and more!

For a small charge of £1 a go, we have the additional rides of an animal train and go karts around a race track!

The operation of some rides is weather dependent. If this is a primary reason for your visit, please phone ahead to ask whether the rides will be open: 01506 870000.



Our gift shop is located next to the ticket desk and stocks a range of cuddly toys, books, jewellery and lots of “pocket money” priced toys.

There is a large, free car park with plenty of room for coaches and mini buses. You are free to come and go to the car park from the zoo during the day, but please keep your ticket to hand.


First Aid points are located in the Brown Bear Café and ticket desk.

There is a block of toilets situated within the Zoo, adjacent to the walkthrough aviary, and also in the Brown Bear Café. At these locations disabled toilet facilities and baby changing facilities are available.

A further toilet block is near to the picnic area and in the Discovery & Learning Centre where Animal Handling Sessions take place.

Zoo Warning Signs

A number of the enclosures round the zoo display warning signs about animals biting. As you are able to get up really close to many of the animals, we would ask that you supervise children at all times, so that there are no injuries.

Health & Safety

Our aim is for all visitors to have a fun, safe and exciting day out at the Zoo and play areas. There are plenty of hand gel dispensers throughout the Zoo and we ask that children are encouraged to use these at all times.

To protect the welfare of the Zoo animals we can not allow pet dogs in the Zoo, however fully trained assistance dogs are permitted. If you have a guide or assistance dog please let the Zoo know before your visit so that staff can be informed.
We appreciate that you may have brought your dog on holiday with you, however we do not advise that you bring them when you visit the Zoo. Leaving your dog in your car can cause them serious harm, especially in warm weather, and the Zoo car park has very little shaded parking. You are welcome to exercise your dog in the car park as long as it is kept on a lead, however where possible please leave your dog at home or with a carer.
In exceptional circumstances we may be able to accommodate your dog – please call us on 01506 870000 in advance of your visit to discuss this possibility.

The Falconry School is based within the Zoo, but is run independently and queries and bookings should be forwarded to thefalconryschool@hotmail.co.uk

Falconry is basically the “ancient art” of free flying a trained hawk or falcon.

Falconry has been around for 4000 years. Its history has been traced as far back as 2000 B.C. through ancient writings, artifacts, and art. It developed in the ancient civilizations of the Middle East, Asia, and Europe.

The ancient Egyptians worshiped a falcon god called Horus and trained raptors on perches are depicted in Egyptian art.

By the second century A.D. falconry had spread to the Asia and into Europe by the fourth century. Most people’s knowledge of falconry stems from its popularity in medieval Europe and the middle east during the middle ages. It sometimes is called the “sport of kings” because of its association with the ruling classes and royalty of these early societies. With the advent of gunpowder and firearms in the 17th Century falconry as a means of obtaining food died out. In the early 1900’s falconry was reborn in the U.S. and Europe and its popularity has been increasing ever since.

Basic Training

Though some of the equipment has been modernised, the basic method of training a hawk for falconry has not changed since ancient times. The general philosophy is to condition the hawk to accept the falconer as a partner in the hunting process while maintaining its natural physical condition and hunting instincts. Training is accomplished through careful weight management, positive reinforcement, and repetition.

The first step in training entails a period known as “manning“. It is during this time that the hawk begins to overcome its fear of people, becomes accustomed to the falconer, and learns to associate food with the falconer’s glove. During the first few days of manning, the falconer spends many hours with the hawk.

Once the hawk overcomes its initial fear of the falconer it begins to accept food rewards that are placed on the falconer’s glove. Once this occurs, the hawk is encouraged to step up onto the glove for food rewards. As the training progresses, the hawk will be encouraged to hop, jump, and eventually fly increasingly greater distances to the falconer. In just a couple weeks the hawk is flying to the falconer on a light line called a creance. At this stage the hawk is introduced to a lure that has some resemblance to the intended game and is garnished with food. The hawk is taught that whenever it comes to this lure it will receive a significant food.

After roughly 3 to 4 weeks of training the hawk is ready to fly completely free to pursue wild game with the falconer. This process of initially releasing a hawk to hunt a certain type of quarry is called entering. For many falconers this is the most trying time as it is at this stage that the hawk is most likely to fly away and revert to the wild and the hunting instincts of the bird will prevail. If all goes well, the falconer and possibly his hunting dog will flush game that the hawk can chase, kill, and eat.

Once the hawk has eaten its fill, the falconer approaches and coaxes the hawk up onto the glove with a food reward. When this occurs the hawk associates the event and the meal with the presence of the falconer and sets the stage for the hawk to repeat the same behavior on the next hunt. The bond between the hawk and the falconer increases with continued hunting and time together. Forging this relationship with a wild raptor is what falconry is all about.

Falconry represents a unique relationship between a human and a wild animal. The falconer’s commitment to the hawk is deep. He (or she) must serve the hawk’s every need in terms of providing food, shelter, exercise, chances to hunt, and health care. The free-flying hawk has many opportunities to simply fly away and return to the wild. However, in most cases the hawk recognizes its bond to its human partner and voluntarily returns time after time to the falconer’s glove and the care he provides.

At the Falconry School you can …….

Traditional Falconry Tuition @ £20 per hour. Learn the Ancient Art of Falconry at your own pace, tuition can be on a one to one basis or as part of a small group lead by one of our experienced falconers. Our Falconry tuition service is also available as an evening class.

Gold – Hawk Safari gift voucher £100. Hawk Safari itinerary is as follows, 5hrs of pure falconry pleasure….

  • Coffee – meet and greet
  • Safety talk Do’s & Don’ts
  • Meet the Hawks and one hours falconry tuition to get you started
  • We’re off, depending on the weather and the individuals fitness this part of the day is flexible
  • It’s back to base for a de-brief & well earned coffee…!!!!!

Silver – Hawk Safari itinerary is as follows, 4hrs of pure falconry pleasure….

Silver – Hawk Safari gift voucher £75

  • Coffee – meet and greet
  • Safety talk Do’s & Don’ts
  • Meet the Hawks and one hours falconry tuition to get you started
  • We’re off, depending on the weather and the individuals fitness this part of the day is flexible
  • It’s back to base for a de-brief & well earned coffee…!!!!!

Bronze – Hawk Safari itinerary is as follows, 3hrs of pure falconry pleasure….

Bronze -Hawk Safari gift voucher £50

  • Coffee – meet and greet
  • Safety talk Do’s & Don’ts
  • Meet the Hawks and one hours falconry tuition to get you started
  • We’re off, depending on the weather and the individuals fitness this part of the day is flexible
  • It’s back to base for a de-brief & well earned coffee…!!!!!

The HAWK-WALK gift voucher £35.

The HAWK-WALK gift voucher is probable our most popular and relaxing falconry experience – it consists of a simple safety talk, then we are out for a leisurely stroll. You have a Hawk in your hand your out in the fresh air, normally this is a one to one experience, but we can cater for small groups of people.

This is a fabulous gift for young and old alike, you will fly our Hawks “YOURSELF” under the guidance of a Professional Falconer
Hawk-Walk will take approximately 2 hours.

For more information e-mail: thefalconryschool@hotmail.co.uk

The Countryside & Conservation Club is based within the Zoo, but is run independently and queries and bookings should be forwarded to thefalconryschool@hotmail.co.uk

The Falconry School runs the Countryside & Conservation Club for the benefit of budding young naturalist.
Classes run every Saturday through out the summer.
The first class start at 9:00 AM and due to increased demand we are also running a second class starting at 12 Noon.

The aim of the club is:

  • Learn about Conservation and traditional country pursuits like Falconry, Wildlife Management & Bird Watching


  • Learn about Nature, learn basic camping & survival skills
  • Have FUN and Learn about our environment and how we can conserve it for the future
  • Get dirty & wet – learn about wild things – get more dirty and have hands on experience with animals and nature
  • Learn natural respect for the countryside and all its wildlife
  • Go on guided nature walks to explore the wildlife around us
  • Participate in the West Lothian Red Squirrel initiative


PS. Do not wear your best clothes…. Old jeans and boots are recommended.

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Opening Times

Open 7 days a week! (inc. Bank Holidays; exc. 25th Dec. and 1st Jan.)

1st November 2017 – 28th February 2018 : 10am – 4pm (last admission at 3pm)

1st March – 30th September 2018 : Zoo closes at 6pm

Last entry 1 hour before closing time.

PLEASE NOTE: Leaping Lemurs Soft Play is CLOSED until further notice.

Admission Prices

Child (3-15 yrs): £9.95
Adult (16 yrs+): £11.95
Under 3s: free of charge
Concession*: £10.45
Family Ticket (2 adults + 2 children): £34.00 + £7.95 for each additional child.

*Concession: applies to pensioners, disabled customers and accompanying carers.

Contact Us

Five Sisters Zoo
Gavieside, West Calder
West Lothian, EH55 8PT

T: 01506 870 000 / 01506 871 111