Why would you go to Uganda Wildlife Education Centre when you could go on safari in Uganda? The Uganda Wildlife Education Centre, also known as Entebbe Zoo is the most popular attraction in Entebbe City. The centre has been named the best zoo in east and central Africa.
It is also recommended by Lonely Planet, which describes it as ‘a world-class animal refuge. Although UWEC operates as a zoo, the center’s main focus is rescuing, caring for, and rehabilitating animals rescued from poachers or trafficking. Many of the animals you’ll see here were intercepted during smuggling attempts, saved from certain death, or found being kept illegally as pets in people’s homes.
They are brought here to be cared for, and where possible, many are returned to the wild when the time is right. UWEC also contributes to scientific research and is committed to develop education programmes for the general public. In this spirit, numerous conservation education, internship and volunteer programmes run on and off-site for Ugandans and foreigners alike.
Here is all you will need about Uganda Wildlife Education Centre for an inspiring visit:
Location: Where Entebbe UWEC Zoo
The Uganda Wildlife Education Centre is located in Entebbe on the shore of the Lake Victoria – the largest tropical lake in the world. The education centre is very near the Entebbe International Airport, Uganda’s main entry point and the gateway to most safari tours in Uganda. UWEC is located about 1 hour drive (39km) from Uganda’s capital city, Kampala.
It is a perfect place for weekend tours or a short excursion before or after undertaking your long Uganda safaris to incredible Uganda wildlife Safaris destinations of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Murchison Falls NP, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, ete.
A Brief History of Uganda Wildlife Education Center/Entebbe Zoo
The former Entebbe Zoo derives its name from Entebbe town. “Entebbe”, in the local Luganda language, means a “seat”, and was probably named that because it was the place where the Buganda chief sat to adjudicate legal cases.
1952 – The Games Department in Uganda’s colonial administration led by Sir Andrew Cohen established Entebbe Animal Sanctuary as a reception centre for wildlife casualties. These included the sick, injured, orphaned, and animals confiscated from illegal trade.
1960 – The sanctuary changed its role to a traditional zoo, hence the name Entebbe Zoo a name that rings memories in the minds of many Ugandans to date. At that time, a number of non-indigenous species, including bears and tigers, were kept as attractions.
1970 to 1985 – The zoo had a setback due to political unrest at the time. Many of the wildlife were lost because of neglect and infrastructure break down.
1986 – When the current NRM government came into power, the facility recovered. After some research and study, the New York Zoological society advised the government to turn the zoo into a Wildlife conservation centre.
1994 – The UWEC Trust was founded to take over the zoo primarily for Conservation Education purposes. Over the years, the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre has acquired more land and expanded up to the shores of Lake Victoria.
2020 – Ugandans witnessed the restoration of tigers in the centre.
Animals You Will See At Entebbe Zoo (UWEC)
Get up close to Uganda Wildlife Education Centre’s incredible animals!
UWEC is a wonderful place for kids to learn about the Uganda animals from a safe distance. You can see the Big 5 (lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino, and leopard). There is also cheetah, crocodiles, Topis, impalas, zebras, elands, warthogs, giraffes, waterbucks, camels, donkeys, snakes, tortoises, turtles, otters, elands, Uganda kobs, monkeys, baboons, chimpanzees, forest hogs, Jackal, and Serval cat.
Unfortunately, there are no mountain gorillas of Uganda in the Zoo as they can’t survive in captivity like other gorilla species. To see them, you need to go gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Entebbe Zoo also contains a pair of tigers – a female/tigress and a male/tiger that were got from South Africa and were traded for 25 Ugandan monkeys.
The tigers are of the Bengal tiger species. They are stunning with their brown color and white color coats. The brown is the female while the white is the male
Unlike lions which can be found in the savannah parks in Uganda (Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls, Kidepo National Park, and Africa at large, the tigers are not native to the African. And can be found only in zoos such as the Uganda Wildlife Education Center. Tigers are native to Asia.
Here is a List of Key Species in Uganda Wildlife Education Centre
- Chimpanzees – our closest living relatives
- White Rhinos – the second largest land animal
- African Lion – the king of African Jungle
- Cheetah – the fastest land animals on the planet
- Giraffes – the tallest land animals
- African Elephants – the biggest land animal. Adult Males can weigh as much as a school bus! Even their teeth are big—an adult’s molar is the size of a brick.
- Shoebills – amazing prehistoric looking birds with a bill that looks like a shoe.
- Nile Crocodiles – the biggest freshwater predator in Africa
- Common Ostriches- the world’s largest non-flying bird
- African Rock Python – Africa’s largest snake
- African Buffaloes
- African Leopards
- Plains Zebras
- Crested Crane – Uganda National bird
- Uganda kob – Uganda national animal
- Impalas – from which Kampala city is named
Uganda Wildlife Education Centre Day Visits
Whether you have days or just hours in Entebbe and you are wondering how to spend your precious time? Visit the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre.
At the Centre, you can hear a lion’s roar, see chimps in a semi-natural environment, enjoy a nature walk or just have some memorable experiences with the animal ambassadors.
During your visit, you’ll develop an important understanding of their role in protecting and conserving our planet’s natural resources. To visit UWEC you’ll need to the entry fees.
Entebbe Zoo Entry Fees
The Entebbe Zoo Entry Fees are paid at the main gate. Payments can be in form of cash or electronic cards (visa or credit card). The fees include:
- 10,000 UGX for Ugandan Adults
- 5,000 UGX for Ugandan Children
- 15 USD for Foreign Non Residents
- 10 USD for Foreign Residents
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 is 2,000 shillings per vehicle.
Experiential Activities At Uganda Wildlife Education Centre
Experiential Activities at Uganda Wildlife Education Centre gives you a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into caring for some of fascinating animals of Uganda. Whether you want to treat yourself or your loved ones, an animal experience is the perfect way to make a day at Entebbe Zoo even more special.
1. Chimpanzee Close-Up Experience
An endangered species, Uganda’s chimpanzee population of 5,000 is declining, mainly as a result of human actions. It is Uganda Wildlife Education Center’s belief that education is key to avoid extinction of Uganda’s chimpanzees.
The center offers you the chance to embark on a highly moving and unique experience whereby you’ll have the privilege to have up close, direct contact with these amazing creatures.
You will join the younger chimpanzees for part of their daily exercise routine in a stretch of natural forest. Watch with amazement as they interact, curious to explore their visitors. Always playful, they may cling to you, climb all over you, or even explore your face with their human-like hands.
A rare opportunity to bond with man’s closest relative, not only will this be an experience of a lifetime, but you will also learn about the dangers they face in the wild, whilst supporting UWEC’s ongoing conservation efforts. This activity is subject to special inoculation clearance.
- Foreign Non Residents: 290 USD
- Foreign Resident: 200 USD
2. “Behind the Scenes” Experiences
If it’s not enough for you to see the animals through a fence or across a wall, this two hour educative tour is for you.
You’ll be taken beyond the paths, past the signs saying ‘Staff Only’ and ‘No Entry’, and right into the animal enclosures, nose-to-nose with the animals themselves.
You will observe the animals’ behaviour and experience firsthand how the keepers feed the lions, giraffes, elephants, and rhinos, carry out health checks, or bring them back to their holding facilities.
You’ll have the luxury of a privileged few and visit the food preparation areas, the pharmacy, the exhibits and much, much more. This way you can say that you have truly visited the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre.
- Foreign Non Residents: Adults 70 USD, Kids 35 USD
- Foreign Residents: Adults 50 USD, Kids 15
- Ugandans: Adults 50000 UGX, 30,000 UGX
3. Keeper For A Day
Spend a day in the life of a zookeeper! It’s a perfect opportunity to get the good side of a rhino as you serve him breakfast! You will rise up early and join the Uganda Wildlife Education Center keepers in the kitchen to prepare the food. You will then jump on the tractor moving from one exhibit to another.
You will help feed an amazing array of exotic and endangered animals from giraffes to lions to rare birds. This could be your most rewarding and fulfilling day of work ever! Check the list of necessary health requirements and vaccinations.
- Foreign Non Residents – 150 USD
- Foreign Residents – 100 USD
4. The Vet For The Day Experience
If you are interested in learning about how animals are kept healthy and diagnosed for any complications, this encounter is for you. In guidance of Veterinary doctor, you will visit the animal pharmacy to look at the various medicines given to the animals and their purpose.
You will then follow the doctor to the animal enclosures to observe how medical check-ups, diagnosis and other treatments are done. You must follow certain medical precautions to avoid spreading any disease to the animals. This special experience is perfect for veterinary students from the various institutions in Uganda and abroad.
You’re encouraged to book in advance. And you’re required to be vaccinated or tested for diseases that are likely to spread from human to animals, such as:
- Yellow fever
- Hepatitis A&B
5. VIP Exclusive Behind The Scene Tour
This wildlife experience at Uganda Wildlife Education Center is your personalized adventure! You get up close and personal with the animal ambassadors.
You can come along with your family and spend up to 3 hours with your own personal tour guide on an exclusive journey to Uganda animals and their habitats. Your kids will enjoy the bikes, donkeys and camel rides as well as a meal in the restaurant overlooking Lake Victoria, in a safe and clean environment. This unique experience is tailored to your interests and needs.
- Foreign Non Resident: Adults: 100 USD; Children: 50 USD
- Foreign Residents: Adults 50 USD; Children 25 USD
- Ugandan: Adults 35,000 UGX; Children, 15,000 UGX
More Uganda Wildlife Education Centre Tour Experiences/Activities
1. Keeper’s Guided Tour
On this experience, you will be assigned to a specific zoo keeper to guide you in the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre. Before the tour starts, you will be briefed about the history of UWEC, what to expect on the tour, and guidelines to follow.
You will also sign a consent form which states that you know the dangers of getting close to wild animals and will take ownership for any accident. The tour starts with visiting the main offices of the centre, meeting senior staff and then heading off to the animal enclosures.
By the end of the tour, you would have encountered lions, cheetahs, giraffes, rhinos, chimps, elands, shoebill, elephants, monkeys, and more. With each encounter, the caretaker will share important information about the animal including their overall profile and behavior.
Overall, this experience takes three hours and costs $40.
2. Forest Nature Walk
On this experience, you will enjoy a 1km walk in the natural pristine forest with free ranging birds, mammals, butterflies and chameleons. You will learn about plants and their medicinal values in Uganda Wildlife Education Centre garden, with over 100 plants.
- Foreign Non Resident: Adults 15 USD, Children 5 USD
- Foreign Residents: Adults 10 USD, Children 5 USD
- Ugandans: Adults 10,000 UGX, Children 5,000 UGX
3. Riding Camels & Donkey
At Uganda Wildlife Education Centre, you can also experience camel and donkey and camel rides. These adventures are very popular for visitors 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.
4. Boat ride
Uganda Wildlife Education Centre is located on the edge of Africa’s largest lake. The boat cruises on lake are relaxing, exciting, and excellent for admiring the natural beauty of Lake Victoria and different islands.
Volunteering At Uganda Wildlife Education Centre
The Uganda Wildlife Education Centre accepts applications from those who are interested in volunteering. Applications are open to all nationalities.
The volunteering program is designed to allow you learn how to freely interact with animals, know their moods and behavior. You get involved in activities like feeding the animals, research, cleaning animal enclosures, guiding visitors and helping raise funds for the centre.
The Centre charges:
- 2,500 USD for 1 month volunteer program
- 650 USD for 1 week volunteer program
The amount covers accommodation, meals, boat tours to Islands around Lake Victoria and airport pickup. You’ll stay in one of the bandas and food is prepared at the resident restaurant.
The cost of volunteering at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre excludes travel and personal insurance. You must prepare to be vaccinated against Covid-19, the six killer diseases and Hepatitis A&B. You must also test for Tuberculosis.
Internship At Uganda Wildlife Education Centre – Entebbe Zoo
Uganda Wildlife Education Centre also provides practical hands on opportunity to students. This is through industrial or internship placements which is part of the requirement for the award of their different degrees and diplomas. This is also to enable the students gain a much needed work experience.
Uganda Wildlife Education Centre/Entebbe Zoo Working Hours
What are the opening and closing hours of Entebbe zoo?
Entebbe Zoo is open every day of the week from 8 am to 6 pm. We recommend that you visit the centre early in the morning or in the afternoon (around 4pm). The animals are active in the morning and afternoon hours. This is also the time when keepers appear to feed the animals.
Donations To The Uganda Wildlife Education Centre/Entebbe Zoo
There are many ways you can 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 tour various activities we discussed earlier.
Most of the funds collected at the entrance are used for maintenance, development and conservation works. Another option of supporting the Centre is by joining the Animal Parents Program. Under this program, you can choose to sponsor one of the animals for a period of time or permanently.
You provide the funds required to feed and treat the animal. Special sponsorship arrangements and other conservation campaigns do exist.
Other Places You Can Visit In Entebbe
- Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary
- Mabamba Swamp For Shoebills
- Lake Victoria Beaches
- Uganda Reptile Village
- Entebbe Botanical Gardens – For birding and leisurely walks
- Entebbe Golf Club – East Africa’s oldest gold course
- Lake Victoria – Africa’s largest lake
- Local Markets
- The Entebbe Craft Village
- Zika Forest
- Shops, Restaurants, Bars, And Cafés
- Lutembe Bay Swamp