Living Coasts

Living Coasts is a coastal zoo owned by South West Environmental Parks as part of the Wild Planet Trust, formerly known as Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust, which also includes Newquay Zoo and Paignton Zoo. It is a registered charity, and is based around seabirds and other coastal wildlife. The site is covered by a giant aviary which includes several animal enclosures and habitats including an artificial tidal estuary, a penguin beach, a tropical mangrove swamp, and underwater viewing areas.

Living Coasts
LC Penguin crossing.jpg
Living Coasts Penguin Crossing
Date opened14 July 2003
LocationTorquay, Devon, England
Coordinates50°27′29″N 3°31′30″W / 50.458°N 3.525°W / 50.458; -3.525Coordinates: 50°27′29″N 3°31′30″W / 50.458°N 3.525°W / 50.458; -3.525
No. of animalsOver 600
No. of speciesOver 50
Annual visitors100,000+
MembershipsBIAZA,[1] EAZA,[2] WAZA[3]
Major exhibitsAuk Cliff, Penguin Beach, Underwater Tunnel, Mangroves: The Roots of the Sea, Local Coasts, Discover Zone

Living Coasts is Britain's only coastal zoo.[4] It is a member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).


Living Coasts opened to the public on 14 July 2003,[5] and as of 2011 was being visited by over 100,000 visitors a year.[6]


The aviary, which cost £7 million to build, is 19 metres (62 ft) at its highest point and has a total volume of 1.8 million cubic feet (51,000 m3). This free flying enclosure is home to mammals and birds including South American fur seals, African penguins, macaroni penguins, sea ducks, pied avocet, redshanks, black-necked stilts, ruffs, and terns.

The aviary was the first open-air auk exhibit in the world, and has won a design award.[7] It was also the first place in the U.K to breed pigeon guillemots, common guillemots and tufted puffins. Also found in the auk enclosure are red legged kittiwakes and red billed choughs.

Other exhibitsEdit

Aquarium tanks inside the aviary have a total capacity of 1,214 cubic metres (321,000 US gal).

  • Mangroves: The Roots of the Sea opened in July 2009, and features large aquarium tanks containing over 20 species. including three types of sting ray. It is Britain's first major exhibit themed on a mangrove swamp habitat.
  • The Local Coasts exhibit is themed on the underside of a classic English pier and is home to native marine species including seahorses, starfish, edible crabs etc.
  • Discovery Zone, which opened in March 2008, features an interactive floor with a series of specially-created penguin computer game stations called Penguin Academy.[8]


Special shows, extended talks and hands-on events are available throughout the site each day.[9] Other programs let visitors be keeper or junior keeper for the day, take part in one of the penguin feeds,[10] or (for certified SCUBA divers) take a 45-minute swim with the penguins.[11]


Living Coasts has a cafe that overlooks Torbay and the Tradewinds gift shop, themed on a colonial harbour. Both facilities are open to visitors and non-visitors.


  1. ^ "BIAZA Zoos and Aquariums". BIAZA. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
  2. ^ "EAZA Member Zoos & Aquariums". EAZA. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
  3. ^ "Zoos and Aquariums of the World". WAZA. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
  4. ^ "Living Coasts". By The Dart. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  5. ^ "Living Coasts is Eden for marine life". BBC. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
  6. ^ "Living Coasts 'contributes £4m to economy per year'". The Herald. 29 September 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2016.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "Living Coasts". Kay Elliot Architecture. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  8. ^ "Make the most of Living Coasts". Western Morning News. 10 August 2010. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  9. ^ "Talk Times". Living Coast. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
  10. ^ "Keeper Experience". Living Coast. Archived from the original on 19 September 2011. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
  11. ^ "Dive Experience". Living Coast. Archived from the original on 16 August 2011. Retrieved 8 September 2011.

External linksEdit