Scottish Unicorn



The unicorn is the national animal of Scotland.



A country’s ‘National Animal’ should represent the best, and defining, qualities of the nation who chose it.
Scots have a strong sentimental streak under that practical and reserved exterior, and Scottish culture is rich in superstitions, myths and legends.
So, choosing a heraldic symbol as awe-inspiring as the unicorn makes perfect sense!
The stories and legends surrounding the Unicorn go about as far back in history as the human race.
Unicorns were considered to be very rare and precious, a lunar symbol (ie symbolized the moon), and they were given differing characteristics depending on the culture and country that was describing them. These included:
•Healing Powers
•Nurturing Powers

They grew to become an exotic creature… a magnificent horse with cloven hooves, the tail of a lion, and a perfect spiraled horn in the middle of their foreheads.
In Celtic Mythology the Unicorn of Scotland symbolized innocence and purity, healing powers, joy and even life itself.
It was also seen as a symbol of masculinity and power. Two sides of the same coin as it were, a blend of male virility and female nurturing – perhaps the perfect mix!
It was seen as a wild, freedom-loving creature. Fierce, bold, proud and intelligent. Beautiful and courageous. Dangerous if running free and impossible to capture alive – (except if lured into an ambush by a virgin.)
You might notice that when he’s featured on heraldic symbols, the Unicorn often has chains wrapped around him. This is a ‘nod’ to this medieval belief that he was a dangerous creature.
To a country as bold, fierce and proud as Scotland, one that was fighting for it’s independence from ‘oppressors’ this was the perfect choice as the ‘National Animal’ that would appear on heraldic symbols.It’s not quite clear exactly when the Unicorn first appeared in Scottish heraldry, but one of the earliest examples is seen in the ‘Royal Coat of Arms’ at Rothesay Castle which is believed to have been carved sometime before the 15th century.
Before England and Scotland came under joint rule, Scotland’s Coat of Arms featured two Unicorns supporting a shield.
In 1603 the reigning King of Scotland, King James VI, also succeeded Queen Elizabeth 1st of England and become King James the 1st of England. This was known as the Union of the Crowns.
Although the new country of Great Britain did not legally exist for another century, this union seemed to require a new Royal Coat of Arms, and work began on creating the design you see today which features the Unicorn of Scotland on the right, and the English Lion on the left.
This was supposed to symbolize the accepted union of the two countries. In real life the actual union was less than friendly.


Five Sisters Zoo


Adults : £9.95
Children (3+) £7.95
Concessions : £8.45
Family ticket : £28.00 (2 adults + 2 children, additional children charged at £5.95)

Five Sisters Zoo Park, West Calder, West Lothian, EH55 8PT




The role of Five Sisters Zoo is to support the welfare of all our animals and to encourage educational and fun days out for all ages – so for a day out with a difference come along and meet the fascinating collection!
Modern day zoos have a responsibility to carry out a number of important roles. Education, Recreation, Research and Conservation are at the forefront of the mission of Five Sisters Zoo.
Conservation is a key element into helping work towards the preservation of animal species, many of which are endangered. Scientists estimate that a third of all animal and plant species on Earth face a high risk of extinction within this century. Five Sisters Zoo is part of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquaria (BIAZA), along with many other UK zoos which all work together to co-ordinate breeding programmes, keep standards high, and raise awareness of conservation issues through educational interpretation and presentations.



Five Sisters Zoo is dedicated to encouraging and supporting research that improves captive animal management and benefits the conservation of animals. Research is a primary objective of ours and is a major role within modern zoos.
Five Sisters Zoo encourages students to undertake non-invasive animal-based research, looking at areas including animal behaviour, environmental enrichment and nutrition, as well as visitor studies.
Research is helpful to Five Sisters Zoo giving a valuable insight into enclosure design, diet, social behaviour, etc, as well as making us aware of visitors attitudes and perceptions, thus aiding conservation through improved education.



Five Sisters Zoo’s mission is to:
Encourage conservation of endangered wildlife for both native and non-native species, and create a safe and natural environment for all animals in our collection.
With over 160 different species of mammal, birds and reptiles, daily keeper talks, feeding and handling sessions and a large outdoor play & picnic area, the Five Sisters Zoo is a great day out for everyone all year round!


The Brown Bear Café is open every day!
You can even visit the Café if you’re not visiting the Zoo as it is conveniently located just outside the main entrance.
The Brown Bear Café offers a selection of reasonably priced snacks and light lunches including soup, sandwiches, toasties and paninis. Also available are a selection of hot and cold drinks, cakes, biscuits and sweets. Children’s lunch boxes are only £3.50 which include a sandwich, yoghurt, fruit, sweets, small chocolate bar, crisps and a drink.
On cold days the log fire is on and a warm, friendly welcome awaits you!
A large picnic area is situated within the Zoo itself where you will find a number of picnic benches as well as a large grassy area for the children to run about on.
During peak times both the ice cream parlour and snack bar in this area are open. The snack bar serves burgers/hot dogs, rolls on bacon and sausage, chips, and a selection of hot and cold drinks, all reasonably priced.
Additionally there is candy floss and slushies available seasonally
Our gift shop is located next to the ticket desk and stocks a range of cuddly toys, books, jewellery and lots of “pocket money” priced toys.
Within the main Zoo, located next to the picnic area, we have a fantastic outdoor kiddies play area, complete with the pirate ship from the old outdoor castle play area, swings, slides, teacups and more!
For a small charge of £1 a go, we have the additional rides of an animal train and go karts around a race track!
The operation of some rides is weather dependent. If this is a primary reason for your visit, please phone ahead to ask whether the rides will be open: 01506 870000.
There is a large, free car park with plenty of room for coaches and mini buses. You are free to come and go to the car park from the zoo during the day, but please keep your ticket to hand.
Our ticket desk is located just inside the main entrance to the Zoo.
Here you can purchase your Zoo tickets, as well as Handling Session tickets (£2 per person) and Feed the Lemurs tickets (£5 per person).
It is best to purchase these additional tickets as soon as you arrive to ensure you get the times you want! Unfortunately none of these sessions can be booked in advance.
We accept card payments, although there is no cashback facility on site.



Opened in December 2014 by Angela Constance MSP, the Lost Kingdom is a fantastic temperature-controlled area displaying a host of species, from small tortoises and insects to the large crocodilians and snakes.
This is a superb representation of animal groups from around the world in rainforests and other tropical environments. Entering a walkthrough area, you can experience a tropical climate, and see iguana, tortoise, birds and our leaf cutter ants at their feeding station.

These ants have a trail from this walthough area, high up through the Conservation Room and into their enclosure where they build their nest and farm their own food – they don’t eat the leaves, they use them to cultivate food! Look out for them!
Linked with our education booklets which cover topics related to the Curriculum for Excellence, we are proud to offer educational services to young people, and the Lost Kingdom provides a unique learning experience outside of the classroom.
The Lost Kingdom is an incredible new building which followed from the devastating fire in 2013 which completely destroyed the previous tropical house. Amazingly, the crocodiles survived the fire and can now be seen proud in the Lost Kindom near to our other crocodilians, the American alligators and spectacled caiman.

A memorial garden within the zoo is in dedication to the beloved animals that were lost in 2013, but will never be forgotten.


Enjoy a wander through the Birds of the World Aviary and get up close to a whole host of different birds.
In this walkthrough aviary, you could see the Sacred Ibis, Little Egrets, Crested Cranes, and Weaver Birds. There’s also the Bald Ibis, Glossy Starlings, White-cheeked Turaco, and Lilac Breasted Roller to keep an eye out for too. Plus, the various duck species living here are often seen around the pond, including Cape Teal and White-faced Whistling Ducks.

The aviary is a truly inspirational experience for your senses, meeting some of the winged characters of Five Sisters Zoo up close and personal.


During your walk around inside you may choose to take a moment to sit and enjoy the birds flying and calling around you, making use of the comfortable wooden seating.

When we went it was raining but we still had a great time and managed to get some really good pictures.


I loved the ‘Castle Garden’. It like a petting zoo and you can get in with almost all of the animals.


I had a lot of fun at the meerkat enclosure. There are very vocal, friendly and come right up to the glass to see you.


They are so much fun.


And the birds that share the meerkat enclosure (I don’t recall what specias) where very curious to get close to you.


I had a great time and hope to go again.