About Edinburgh Zoo

Edinburgh Zoo silver entrance sign with family in the foreground IMAGE: FoSho 2022

An unforgettable day out, Edinburgh Zoo is home to the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and more than 2,500 incredible animals from around the world.

mansion house exterior taken from mansion house lawn with green hedges and trees in shot IMAGE: Robin Mair 2024

Mansion house

The Estate of Corstorphine Hill was originally feuded by John Dickie in 1720; the name was retained for the west part of the land after Dickie’s feu was subdivide, creating Beechwood in the middle section and Brucehill (later known as Belmont) to the east (Harris 194). The Corstorphine Hill feu was sold to brewer David Johnston in 1768. In 1791 the feu was bought by accountant William Keith, who built Corstorphine Hill House in 1793 (NSA 216). 

Originally built in 1793 as the family home of William Keith, the house was then altered and enlarged in 1891 by the MacMillan family, whose fortunes came from the Melrose Tea Company, in the Scots Baronial style, designed by Alexander Wood McNaughtan.

The original bow window on the south front was heightened to form a heavy castellated tower and a large turreted extension was added on the east. The stained glass window on the main staircase was thought to be a wedding gift from John MacMillan to his wife. Their initials can still be seen engraved on the window.

Further additions were made to the house after its purchase by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) in 1912, including alterations by Sir Robert Lorimer in 1913. Over the years the mansion has provided living accommodation for keepers, offices for administrators and a meeting place for visitors. The mansion is now used as an event venue throughout the year hosting weddings, conferences and other events.

Who we are

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) is a wildlife conservation charity with a bold vision: a world where nature is protected, valued and loved.

Thomas Gillespie was the founder RZSS and a true visionary. A lawyer with a passion for zoology, Thomas opened Edinburgh Zoo in 1913 with support from the city council, four years after our wildlife conservation charity was formed. 

By 2030, we will:

Wildcat at Edinburgh Zoo looking at the camera IMAGE: Amy Middleton (2023)

Reverse the decline of 50 species

As our planet’s biodiversity declines at an alarming rate, modern-day zoos and wildlife conservation charities such as RZSS are more relevant than ever before. With your support, we can achieve our pledge to reverse the decline of at least 50 species, from pine hoverflies and wildcats in the Cairngorms National Park, to chimpanzees in Uganda, giant anteaters in Brazil and many more.

Child running towards camera with tongue out IMAGE: Robin Mair 2022

Create stronger connections

Making nature more accessible is fundamental because people protect and value what they love and understand. Edinburgh Zoo is a gateway to the natural world through which people can learn about the challenges facing wildlife and how we can help save species from extinction. We pledge to create deeper connections with nature for more than a million people.

Summer school class IMAGE: Robin Mair 2022

Better protecting nature

Stronger communities have a greater capacity to care for wildlife – and through our zoos and our global reach we can help people realise the mental and physical health and wellbeing benefits of being close to nature. This is why we are pledging to enable more than 100 communities to better protect nature. Now is the time to work more collaboratively than ever before.

Protect, value and love nature

All your favourite animals are waiting for you at the zoo – from charming penguins to majestic giraffes and Scotland’s only sloths and koalas! At the zoo we offer an exciting programme of discovery ranger talks throughout the day, a range of eating experiences, play areas to explore and a fantastic gift shop with lots of sustainable options.

Adult and child pointing to penguins in Penguins Rock IMAGE: Rachel Hein 2023

One of Scotland's most popular visitor attractions

Open every day of the year, with the exception of Christmas Day, we have four stars from the Visit Scotland quality assurance scheme and work hard to offer our visitors a truly great day out. Please see our visitor information for more details about our facilities.