When we visited Dell Farm Outdoor Education Centre back in March, we sadly missed out on a trip to the zoo owing to bad weather. Needless to say, when we returned to Dell Farm last weekend, I was more than a little excited to discover that ZSL Whipsnade Zoo was once again on the agenda.
Unlike London Zoo, that we also visited back in March, Whipsnade Zoo is more open plan; almost like a safari park except with limited drive-through opportunities. It’s the largest zoo in the UK and one of the largest wildlife conservation parks in Europe covering 600 acres.
The enclosures are large and designed to be realistic with a mixture of habitats for Asian, African and European animals. From the exhibits we saw, there are no windows and very few bars. Instead moats and small electric fences create a buffer zone to keep us nosy humans away from the animals. I liked that in many parts of the zoo, we could see the animals from raised walkways, giving them their own space and causing the least distress.
We didn’t see the whole zoo but we did enough of a loop to pass through a little of each area. We started with the Chimps, Bears and Penguins of Europe. The Penguins seemed very happy in their own pools high up on the Chiltern Hills. The views were stunning.
Next we headed over to the Giraffes, Lions and Cheetahs of Africa. I felt that the Cheetah enclosure, while a good size and possibly larger than it appeared, was poorly positioned being near to Passage through Asia plains. How agonising for this beautiful animal to have to sit and watch deer roam free from behind a fence. We did see the Cheetah crouch low and then spring into action as meat of some kind was put into its enclosure, but it was hard not to grimace at how far removed it was from its natural instincts.
Some animals roam free and we saw a beautiful Peacock who showed no fear approaching us as we headed towards the Elephants and Tigers in the Asia section. The Pink Flamingoes were a riot of colour!
Sadly we didn’t have time to see more of the Asian animals or stop and feed the Pygmy Goats but it was a fantastic day out and highly recommended.
Have you been to a zoo recently? Any recommendations? What’s your favourite animal?