Dozens of angry motorists have hit out at Twycross Zoo bosses after a January offer saw people stuck in four-mile long queues of traffic for hours on end.
Huge numbers of visitors flocked to the Leicestershire attraction on Sunday January 28, to take advantage of a special offer which saw prices slashed from £19.45 for an adult to just £10, and £14.45 for a child aged three to 16 years to £5.
But the January sale proved so popular that staff were forced to implement a one in, one out policy, and angry visitors were left sitting in queues which stretched back at least four miles.
Helen Faccio had travelled with her husband and four-year-old son from Long Eaton in Derbyshire to make the most of the offer and the mild winter weather.
She said the family had turned off the A42 just after 11am and at 1.30pm were still in the queue trying to get in, just metres from the entrance.
She said: "I just can’t believe the zoo would put this offer on to pay at the gate and have no idea how many people might take it up. They have totally underestimated visitor numbers. It is just daft. The next time they put an offer on it needs to be pay in advance.
"My husband has taken our son in while I wait with the car and lots of other families have done the same.
"The queue must be about four miles back in both directions and no-one from the zoo has communicated with us about the problems. I only found out it was one in one out when I checked its Facebook page after about an hour."
Other frustrated guests took to Twycross Zoo’s Facebook page to vent their fury.
Fay Oliver said: "We have been waiting an hour with our little one, poor communication, feel so sorry for people who have told their kids they are going to the zoo and having to turn around."
Vikki Johnson said: "I am really disappointed. We waited two hours in that queue thinking there had been an accident only to find out it was the queue for the zoo. We would have turned around ages ago.
"You need to get the word out there as the traffic is horrendous. One disappointed family that have had to come home. Might want to look into getting an overflow car park."
A message from zoo bosses back to Vikki apologised for her "disappointment", adding "we understand how upsetting this is for you and your family."
Karla Wilkins said she had completed a two-hour, 80 mile trip with a two year-old and hadn’t seen any animals.
She said: "There should have been more communication online."
She added: "Perhaps do ticketed events in future and get an overfill car park if you can’t cope with lots of visitors. Gutted."
Other irate motorists tweeted the zoo.
Ian Morris said: "Absolute carnage getting into Twycross Zoo. Forty five minutes to do 200 yards."
Angel tweeted: "We are stuck in miles and miles of stationary traffic."
At 11.40am an updated message on the zoo’s page said: "As a conservation charity we are excited to see so many of you turn up to visit us on our end of January sale weekend. Please be advised we are open until 5pm today but due to the popularity of our offer the car park is currently at capacity. We are now operating a one in one out system and will get you in to the zoo as soon as we are able."
A spokesman for Twycross Zoo said: "As a conservation charity we were delighted by the number of people who took the time to travel out to see us on Saturday 27 and/or Sunday, January 28, to use our "end of January sale" offer. Regrettably this did mean some delays in getting into the zoo.
"All of our team worked hard to ensure the delays were kept to a minimum, but we would like to express our apologies for any inconvenience caused to our guests and our community."