Edinburgh Zoo is without doubt one of the most exciting venues for a meeting or event. Why? From the only giant pandas and koalas in the UK to the fantastic variety of spaces on offer, it really is a treat for all who visit. We sat down with Selina McCready, sales manager of Edinburgh Zoo to find out more. 

Please could you tell us about Edinburgh Zoo and what does it offer for conferences and events?

Edinburgh Zoo is one of Scotland’s leading tourist attractions. Set in lovely hillside parkland, just west of the city centre, within easy reach of the airport, the Zoo is home to almost 1,000 rare and amazing animals, many of which are endangered in the wild. We have some great spaces for conference and events and can offer many exciting catering options to make the day even more special.


What makes the venue so unique?

We have some great spaces at Edinburgh Zoo, from the traditional rooms within the Mansion House, to the more unique Budongo Lecture Theatre where one wall looks straight into our chimp enclosure – something not found anywhere else in the UK! We can provide everything you need for a meeting whilst adding in the element of fun with a visit to the Pandas, or an animal handling session with some creepy crawlies.


Please give us a fun fact about Edinburgh Zoo!

One of our Penguins was knighted by the Norwegian Royal Guard in 2008. He is now known as Sir Nils Olav.


We hear that the venue has had a recent rejuvenation! Please could you tell us a little more?

For this refurbishment we focused on some of the main rooms within the Mansion House including the two biggest rooms, the Geddes and Gillespie and the Macmillan. We aimed to keep the traditional elements of the Mansion House whilst giving the spaces a facelift and some modernisation. The rooms now looking amazing and refreshed but still in keeping with the traditional building. My favourite is the Keith room as there is a hint of zoo in there! 


What have been your favourite events held at the zoo?

We did a great event recently called Feeding Time at the Zoo, where guests visited a different area for each course of their dinner. They started at Penguins rock with some sushi and an Antarctic inspired ice drink. Guests then moved over the Budongo Chimp enclosure for sweet potato  and red pepper soup  inspired  by the 660kg of vegetables  that the chimps get through each week. They then finished in the Mansion House for main and dessert. The guests had to complete some animal enrichment before dessert which is what our animals are given occasionally in order to forage for their food.


What events work well at Edinburgh Zoo and why?

We truly can cater for any event here due to our different and flexible spaces. Summer events are obviously great as you have so much outdoor space to play with. Corporate Family days’ work particularly well as we can provide a delicious BBQ lunch while all your guests spend the day enjoying what the zoo has to offer. 


Have you had any particularly unusual event requests?

We get asked the strangest questions here, such as can the penguins dress in tuxes and serve the drinks, or can we hire the lion for the day! 


In your opinion, what is the importance of food within a day delegate rate?

I think the food is very important, from the menu to the way it is served. We have just developed a range of street food menus that we are bringing out later this year, served from our street food cart. We also make sure our breaks within the day delegate rate are seasonal, at the moment for example we are serving chocolate birds’ nests for Easter, and will move onto ice cream tubs in the summer months. Its these kind of special additions that your delegates will go away talking about. 


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