Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Whipsnade Zoo

On Saturday, Jamie and I went on an adventure to Whipsnade Zoo. Whipsnade is run by ZSL, the same company that runs London Zoo. If you read my Z is for Zoos post, you'll know that sometimes I get a bit upset with zoos; seeing all the beautiful wild creatures caged up in too small, unenriched enclosures. But I am very pleased to be able to say that Whipsnade is not like that at all. They have so much space, so every enclosure is more than big enough, and filled with interesting and exciting things for the animals to do.

The park is also very well organised. It's huge, so they run a free bus service around the zoo, to save you from walking all the way around. Or, if you want to pay the extra £17 (!) you can bring your car into the zoo, and park in designated parking areas around the zoo. There are numerous timed events, such as animal feeding, the birds of the world show and the sealion splash.

Unfortunately for us, it was hammering down with rain all morning, so some of the shows were cancelled. The walk-through lemur enclosure, where they feed the lemurs around you and you get to have them climb on you... was completely empty. All the lemurs were in their little house, refusing to go outside!

We did get to feed the wild boar, and their 11 stripey little piglets. And the Eurasian bears were out, waiting patiently for their breakfast as well.
Eurasian Brown Bear

We got to feed the bears. It was pretty awesome.

I was very excited to see wolverines. I don't think I'd seen them before, as not many zoos keep them.

Wolverine 2

How cute are they? Apparently one wolverine can bring down a reindeer by itself. They don't look that scary!

Because it was so horribly wet, we legged it over to the "Discovery Centre", which is basically a big indoor exhibit with loads of reptiles, insects, fish and small mammals. It was lovely and warm and dry, so we were quite happy to stay inside for a while. Fortunately, it was also amazing.

Dwarf mongoose
Dwarf Mongoose
 It had different themed areas, for the different climates. Desert, underwater, tropical rainforest... you get the idea. There were some really cool looking insects and snakes and lizards.

An iguana, possibly?

The most awesome part though was in the tropical rainforesty bit. They have a huge colony of leaf cutter ants, and the way the tank is set up, the nest runs for a very long distance, through tubes that cross over the walkway and into various different tanks. There's even an branch bit where they come out into the open, in the crocodile room. You can see the fungus they cultivate, the larvae and pupae they are caring for, and everywhere there are worker ants cutting and carrying bits of leaf.

Leaf cutter ant
Seriously, how awesome is that? So close I could have reached out and touched it.
The rain did ease off somewhat after lunch, and we were able to do a full tour of the rest of the zoo and see most of the animals they have on display. Because of the weather, we felt like we were the only people in the zoo!

Tiger drinking 1
She sat there for ages, drinking, while we were just a stone's throw away.

Asian elephant calves at play
These baby Asian elephants were playfighting in the mud. They were trying to
push each other over in it, I think. Very cute indeed.

Nursing deer
These miniature deer were free-roaming all over the zoo. This one had several
babies with her, and we had to be very careful not to disturb her as we went past.

Cheetahs!!! How exciting! They are incredibly beautiful.

These lions were right next to the glass. I had my face right next to a snarling male African lion!
It was incredible. Sadly, the glass was really dirty, so it was hard to get a decent photo of him.

The happiest giraffes I've seen outside of Longleat Safari Park.


  1. That looks like a really cool zoo :) I've never been there, although I loved Longleat as a kid. The wolverine kinda reminds me of a honey badger, they're also pretty ferocious!

  2. Definitely worth a visit! We are planning to go back on a dry day. With 2-for-1 vouchers it's really not that expensive, either.

    Somebody mentioned honey badgers while we were looking at the wolverines!

  3. Alittlebitsheepish19 July 2011 at 13:19

    Lovely photos. I'm glad to hear Whipsnade is nice, I can put it on my list of zoos that I want to visit. 

  4. xxxmckingbirdxx19 July 2011 at 16:13

    It looks amazing, I'd love to go. I love wolverines they are super cute and so are tigers and cheetahs and and mini deer and all sorts of fuzzy animals. I'm jealous you got to feed a bear. My mom would be too, she loves bears.

  5. The wolverine looks nothing like Hugh Jackman and I can't decide it its paws look more like Beast's paws or Nigh Crawler's lol.

  6. What interesting animals.   That wolverine looked not what I would expect it look like.

  7. Good pictures! I like the mongoose picture especially.

  8. I was really pleased with the mongoose shot, as I took it through the glass.


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