Monday, 22 July 2013

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo Trip

Tuesday 10th July 2013
I haven't been to the zoo since I was a child of 12 so I was really excited to go back again this year! I've been to Woburn and Whipsnade and the difference between the two is that Woburn is a safari park where you can venture around the park in your car whereas ZSL Whispnade is partly safari but mostly on foot where you can look at the animals at your own pace whenever you want.
Me and my boyfriend, Simon ordered and paid for the tickets the day before we went. We chose to do this because we could plan what day we wanted to go according to the weather forecasts which worked pretty well! You can either order them online prior to your trip or at the gate on the day. As students, we paid £17.72 each, £35.44 in total.

When arriving we handed over our printed tickets and also had to pay a £4.00 parking charge which allowed us to exit the zoo car park when leaving. From Bedford, it took around 30 - 40 minutes to get to Whipsnade which is near Dunstable/Luton.
It was a bit windy at times and the sun did hide under some cloud in the morning, although once we started wandering around the sun started to come through and the weather was quite nice.

Chimps at the Chimp Talk
We had a zoo guide to keep track of where we were and first we went to visit the Chimps, where we listened to a chimp talk. We saw a handful of Chimps and we learnt a lot about all of their personalities and what food they like eating. On the other hand, we also learnt of the dangers of chimp heart disease and how some chimps are being hunted for their meat.

We then went on to see a Moose, a pack of Wolves and had a few silly photographs! We made our way to the Giraffe enclosure where they were feeding and had a few close up photos of the family. They are so tall and their skin and patterns are so beautiful you forget you're in a zoo!

Lion Enclosure
After a short walk, we arrived at the Lions. After seeing such large and dangerous animals on television, you forget their size and how dangerous they can be and you never think you'll be feet away from them. We saw the large male sunbathing on top of a small hill and after standing for a minute or two, a female came over to the glass to say Hi. It was a bit scary to have a huge cat walk up to the glass, look at you and walk past you so close, so that was one of the most memorable parts of the day.
A peeping Meerkat
 Then we came to the Meerkats. We only saw one at first with his little head popping out the top of his 'house' and then he started to scamper down and have a look at us. The little sounds they made were really cute, similar to a high pitched quick humming sound. After a look, his fiends came down and had a look so there were a good few that came to say Hello.
 We walked around a bit more and saw a few other animals including Hippo's with their baby, Lola who was born in August 2012. The next part of our visit was in my opinion the most scary and the one thing that will stay with me for a while. Including us, there was another couple having a look at the Cheetah and then a young couple and their toddler came through. The cheetah was at a distance until it saw the child and then started walking towards the glass quite quickly. The Cheetah showed his teeth and was eyeing the child up and even though there was strong glass separating us from the animals, it was quite scary seeing a big strong cat at such a close distance!

Cheeky Cheetah
Asian Rhino and baby
Whilst making our way to the Asian Elephants, we saw some Flamingo and their brightly coloured feathers, long necks and knobbly knees and an Asian Rhino and baby  enjoying their sprinklers! The Asian Elephants were quite a distance away, but we caught a glimpse of a few of them holding each others tails, showing a keeper their feet and then joining the rest of their friends. They looked so at home and it was nice to see such a large enclosure for the to act naturally in. The Asian Elephants, along with the Chimps and Asian Rhino, have all featured in ITV's 3 episode documentary 'The Zoo' which features ZSL Whipsnade and ZSL London Zoo.

Asian Elephants
Coming up to lunch time, we saw another big cat; a Tiger. He was very close to the fence and we got some great pictures of his markings and teeth!
Close up to the Tiger
We made our way to the Birds of the World show and on our way we say some Sea lions and them playing under the water. It looks green and dirty but it's actually really natural and healthy for them. Another memorable part of our visit was the bird show. We sat around a tiered ring and the keepers and birds were shown on the grass area. The birds included brightly coloured Parrots of all kinds a Bald Eagle and a Barn Own. The birds flew around the ring and high into the sky showing off their huge wing span's and their bright colours. One little Parrot had such a loud personality, quite literally, that if you clapped and shouted loud enough  he flew closer to you, he also said bye! It was a great experience.

Bald Eagle
 Drawing our visit to a close, we headed to the Discovery Centre which housed all the small creatures from a couple of crocodiles to ants and spiders. This part of the visit wasn't my most favourite, just because I'm not a huge fan of creepy crawlies. But it was good to see the ants carrying leaves all around their pipes around the Discovery Centre and some Squirrel Monkeys munching on some food!
After noon we wanted some lunch and sat near the Hullabazoo Adventure Play Area, which was opened earlier this year especially for children. It's a great meeting place for schools and for children to rest and have a bit of lunch as it's situated in the centre of the zoo. Another great attraction near the centre of the zoo is the Jumbo Express - a set of two steam engine trains which take you around parts of the zoo which can only be accessed via car. You can see Elephants, Rhinos, Yaks, Camels and many more throughout the safari adventure and costs approximately £4.00 for adults and £1.00 for children.
Lastly, we made a short walk to the Penguins. We arrived just in time to hear the Penguin Talk and see their feed. Again their water was green but this is entirely healthy and natural for them. We were told about sustainable fish farming and how to identify each Penguin from their unique black markings on their chests with a little help from their unique numbered metal badge on their wings.

It was such a great day out seeing amazing animals where some are critically endangered and rely on educating the public about illegal animal trades etc. The ticket prices are very reasonable for a great day out and there are a few cafes and restaurants to catch a bite to eat too. You can bring lunch yourself in a cool box if you wish, although you have to carry this around with you as you cannot leave the zoo to return to the car as you will not be given re-entry. The gift shop is quite expensive but it all goes towards helping the animals and keeping the upkeep of the zoo. Plus, I didn't want a soft toy and so spent £1 and a penny to get my penny stamped as a token of my visit!

Overall I am so glad I visited Whispnade Zoo. It is one of the most memorable things I have done this year and I would recommend anyone of any age to take the opportunity, if you can, to go and visit.

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