The Uganda Wildlife Education Centre, commonly known as Entebbe Zoo, is located in Entebbe, a coastal town on Lake Victoria’s shores. While Entebbe offers various attractions like the international airport, botanical gardens, and the State House, UWEC stands out as the most popular. It serves as a showcase for a wide range of wildlife species found in Uganda’s national parks, including lions, elephants, giraffes, and more. Although mountain gorillas are notably absent, the Centre functions both as a zoo with caged animals and a wildlife sanctuary where some creatures roam freely in natural settings.
Occupying 72 acres of land beside Lake Victoria, UWEC is characterized by lush rainforests, creating an ideal environment for the animals. Visitors can explore different pathways to observe animals in their respective enclosures. Beyond its role as a zoo, UWEC contributes significantly to wildlife research and provides education on wildlife conservation to both local and international visitors. The Centre also runs breeding programs for endangered species and operates a veterinary hospital for injured animals, leading to its reclassification as a wildlife education center.
For tourists planning extended safaris in Uganda’s national parks, UWEC is a must-visit. It’s particularly recommended for international travelers heading to the parks, as well as those attending workshops, conferences, or business trips in the country. Local tourists also favor the Entebbe Zoo for its affordability and the comprehensive range of animals it hosts. Activities at UWEC include behind-the-scenes tours, casual zoo tours, birdwatching, observing smaller primates and chimpanzees, and strolling along the Lake Victoria beaches. Further details on these activities will be discussed later.
The Uganda Wildlife Education Centre in the beginning was called Entebbe Zoo in 1950 and its objective was to act as a rehabilitation center for orphaned, lone, vulnerable, and injured animals. The facility was established by the British colonial government in conjunction with the Wildlife.
Conservation Society (WCS). In 1960, it became open to the public. People were able to go to the facility and see the different wildlife species as well as imported species like bears and tigers.
The zoo had a setback in the 1970s and 1980s due to political unrest at the time. Many of the resident wildlife were lost because of neglect, poor management, and infrastructure breakdown. When the current NRM government came into power in 1986, the facility recovered. The new government gave the Entebbe Zoo a facelift to use it to showcase Uganda’s wildlife conservation efforts. After some research and study, the New York Zoological Society advised the government to turn the zoo into a Wildlife conservation center.
The government took on the idea and turned it into the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre in 1994 under the management of the Ministry of Tourism. Over the years, the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre has acquired more land and expanded up to the shores of Lake Victoria. The government together with other wildlife conservation organizations funded and still funds most of the projects in the center. With more funding, the Wildlife Centre has restored all the animals that were no longer seen at the center. In 2020, Ugandans witnessed the restoration of tigers in the center. Uganda Wildlife Education Centre is now one of the most admired wildlife centers on the continent.
As a Wildlife Education Centre, Entebbe Zoo receives frequent visitors because it is the only place where one can see most of Uganda’s wildlife in one place. Most of the visitors are local tourists and students. On a normal day, one can see students from nursery, primary, secondary, and higher institutions of learning at the Centre. The students come from different parts of the country to learn about the different species of animals in Uganda. The Centre can host up to 10 learner groups daily. On weekends, the Centre receives countless visitors ranging from international tourists to families, couples, and lone travelers. After observing the animals, children can have fun at the bouncing castles, swings, and mobile toy shops.
The Entebbe Zoo has many interesting wildlife species and attractions for the casual visitor or volunteers. Some of the animals found at the Centre include the big five – lions, elephants, buffaloes, rhinos, and leopards. There are also cheetahs, topis, impalas, zebras, elands, hogs, giraffes, Uganda cobs, and tigers. Some of the primates at the zoo include red-tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys, and chimpanzees. UWEC is home to over 120 bird species including peacocks, the shoebill stork, and parrots to mention but a few.
Nature lovers can enjoy a nature walk to see different plant types, shrubs, tropical/savanna trees, flowers, and herbs. The Uganda Wildlife Education Centre has been made interesting by allowing some of the animals like monkeys, tortoises, peacocks, and parrots to move freely.
What are the opening hours of Entebbe Zoo? Entebbe Zoo is open every day of the week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. We recommend that tourists visit the center early in the morning or the afternoon (Around 4 pm). The animals are active in the morning and afternoon hours. This is also the time when zoo keepers appear to feed the animals.
Accommodation at the Entebbe Zoo
Uganda Wildlife Education Centre has accommodation for volunteers and guests who wish to stay for the night. The accommodation is in the form of cottages (bandas) which are all self-contained. Every Banda Entebbe Zoo Entrance Fee is detached from another and comes with a spacious interior, a bathroom, a bed, a mosquito net, a fridge, and other amenities. A night in one of these bands goes for about $30. There is also a large dormitory with shared bathrooms for budget travelers and students. Food can be obtained from the restaurant overlooking Lake Victoria. This restaurant closes at the same time as the zoo (6:00 p.m.). If you are a mid-range or luxury traveler, you might want to consider one of the many lodges and hotels around Entebbe town.
Behind the Scenes Experience and tour
This is a special experience for those who love wildlife. During this experience, visitors get to interact with the animals more personally or at a closer range. The experiences include being allowed to enter their enclosures, and touching and feeding them under the guidance of the zoo keeper. Visitors who wish to engage in this experience have to part with more money than the normal zoo entrance rates. The Behind the Scenes Tour has three variations – The keeper for the day experience, Vet for the day experience, and the Keeper’s guided tour
During this experience, a visitor is assigned to a specific zoo keeper to guide them around the center. Before the tour starts, the visitor is briefed about the history of the Uganda Entebbe zoo behind the scenes experience Wildlife Education Centre, what to expect on the tour, and guidelines to follow. The visitors also sign a consent form which states that they know the dangers of getting close to wild animals and will take ownership of any accident.
The tour starts with visiting the main offices of the center, meeting senior staff, and then heading off to the animal enclosures. By the end of the tour, the visitor would have encountered lions, cheetahs, giraffes, rhinos, chimpanzees, elands, shoebill, elephants, monkeys, and more. With each encounter, the caretaker shares important information about the animal including their overall profile and behavior. The visitor is allowed to take photos of the animal in the enclosure. Overall, this experience takes three hours and costs $40.
This experience costs $150 per person. It is a more extensive experience than the Keeper’s guided tour because it involves more activities than the latter. During this experience, the visitor goes through what the caretaker does daily. The experience starts with a briefing from the keeper before proceeding to prepare animal food, load it in a truck, and drive to the animal enclosures. The visitor is involved in feeding the animals, observing their mood, and taking notes. The experience provides visitors with many opportunities to touch the animals and take photos.
This experience is suitable for those who are interested in learning about how animals are kept healthy and diagnosed with any complications. During this tour, visitors are guided by a Veterinary doctor. The first activity is to visit the animal pharmacy to look at the various Uganda Wildlife Education Centre entrance fees medicines given to the animals and their purpose. You will then follow the veterinary doctor to the animal enclosures to observe how medical check-ups, diagnosis, and other treatments are done. All visitors must follow certain medical precautions to avoid spreading any disease to the animals. This experience is popular with veterinary students from various institutions in the country and abroad.
Visitors are encouraged to book in advance for these special experiences. All visitors are required to be vaccinated or tested for diseases that are likely to spread from humans to animals. The vaccinations and testing are done against the following diseases: –
Other things to do at the Entebbe Zoo
Guided Tour: This is the most popular activity at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre. It takes some time to explore the zoo on one without a Guide. A resident Guide will ask for about $10 or 10,000 shillings to take you around the facility and the different animal enclosures. This tour doesn’t involve entering the animal enclosures or close contact. We highly recommend that you hire the services of a resident Guide while at the zoo. The Zoo is large and difficult to explore alone. With a Guide, you are assured of spotting all the animals and not missing out on anything.
Chimpanzees were one of the first animals to be introduced at Entebbe Zoo. The greatest and most interesting chimp to stay at the center was Zakayo. Zakayo died at Entebbe Zoo prices the age of 56 years and is remembered to this day. Every visitor wanted to see Zakayo because of his sheer size and overall demeanor. After his death, more chimpanzees were brought to the zoo but none has captured the imagination of visitors like Zakayo.
The Chimpanzee Close-up experience allows tourists to see the chimps feeding and playing at close range. Chimps are very smart and active primates. An interaction with them is always memorable because there is a lot of drama during their interactions. If you wish to have a more personal experience with the chimps, you can register for it in advance for $290 per person. For an even more extensive chimpanzee experience, you might want to read about the nearby Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary.
The Entebbe Zoo is not only home to mammals but also reptiles and birds. Visitors who love birding or nature can choose to take a walk on one of the established trails. These walking trails are 1 km long and home to thick forests where over 100 species of birds live. Apart from birds, one should expect to encounter countless butterflies, reptiles, primates, and rare tree species. This one-hour forest walk is often part of an overall tour of the facility which includes visiting the various animal enclosures.
Donkey and camel rides are very popular with children and families. Children find riding on the back of a donkey or camel very exciting. They can be joined in this fund activity by their parents and other visitors.
Entebbe Zoo is found on the shores of Lake Victoria – the largest fresh-water lake in the continent of Africa. Boat tours on Lake Victoria are relaxing and excellent for admiring the natural beauty of Entebbe town and the different islands in the lake.
There are many ways to contribute to the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre as a conservationist or former visitor. The best way to support the Centre is by taking a tour around the zoo and engaging in the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre behind the scenes of various activities we discussed earlier. Most of the funds collected at the entrance are used for maintenance, development, and conservation works.
Another option for supporting the Centre is by joining the Animal Parents program.
Under this program, donors can choose to sponsor one of the animals for some time or permanently. The donor provides the funds required to feed and treat the animal. Special sponsorship arrangements and other conservation campaigns do exist and you can send an email to email@example.com to find out more.
The Uganda Wildlife Education Centre is currently accepting applications for volunteering opportunities. Interested individuals of any nationality can apply by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. As part of the application, candidates must provide a cover letter, curriculum vitae, a recommendation letter from the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre behind the scenes, and specify their area of interest. The program is designed to teach participants how to interact with animals freely and understand their behavior and moods.
Volunteers get involved in activities like feeding the animals, research, cleaning animal enclosures, guiding visitors, and helping raise funds for the center. The Centre charges $1500 for those interested in volunteering at the Centre. The amount covers accommodation, meals, boat tours to Islands around Lake Victoria, and airport pickup. All Volunteers stay in one of the bandas and food is prepared at the resident restaurant. The cost of volunteering at the Entebbe Zoo excludes travel and personal insurance. All Volunteers must prepare to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the six killer diseases, and Hepatitis A&B. Therefore, they must also test for Tuberculosis.
A local taxi can be hired or safari vacations and travel services can arrange the booking of the activities you are to do and the pick-ups to the center
Entebbe Zoo Entrance Fee and Prices
The Entrance fees for Entebbe Zoo or the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre are made at the main gate. Payments can be in the form of cash or electronic cards (visa or credit card). Adult non-residents pay $10 and Children $5. Residents of Uganda pay 10,000 shillings and children 5,000 shillings. There are special discounted fees for learning institutions and schools. Visitors interested in a special guided tour around the wildlife Centre are required to pay a special rate which is normally higher than the standard fees. Car parking fees at the Centre are 2,000 shillings per vehicle.
Safari Vacations and Travel Services designs itineraries in Uganda, Rwanda, and the DRC with over 10 years of experience and we are proud of our reputation for executing some of the most highly-rated vacation experiences. Our local consultants plan your preferred itinerary using expert ground knowledge. We take care of all the local logistics like permits, accommodation, and transport. And also, manage your entire trip, from start to finish.
And for inquiries, advice on how to plan for this safari, booking the hiking permits; organizing transport and accommodation, getting in touch with safari vacations and travel services, we help you to avoid inconveniences after you have arrived for the safari.