Sunday, 3 July 2011

We're Going to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo!!

Next week Freddy is 2 and we have been lucky enough to get a pre-birthday visit to Chester Zoo courtesy of Superbreak.  Freddy adores animals so I was really excited about taking him to see creatures bigger than his pet hamster Spinky!  I can't even begin to imagine how amazing it must be for a toddler to set his eyes upon an elephant or a giraffe for the first time!

There was ample free parking at the zoo which was just a short walk to the main gates. It was good to have our pre-printed ticket from Superbreak which meant we could take the Fast Track entrance into the zoo, bypassing the queues.  This would be really useful during busy peak times.  On entry we were photographed in front of a green screen....more on that later!

The elephants are the first main attraction you see.  Their enclosure is big and the elephants looked happy and relaxed and entertained by their environment which really pleased me!

The zoo has over 7000 animals from over 400 different species so we had a lot to see!  Thankfully the sun was shining and we were keen to explore the attractions armed with the free map.

Freddy was delighted and amazed as he looked at the wonderful animals on display.  The enclosures were all thoughtfully designed and all the animals looked most content.   

Around the zoo were lots of interactive and educational activities for the children.  The children learned a lot about the animals, their habitats and conservation issues affecting them.  It was very hands on.  There were also regular talks by the zoo keepers throughout the day.

Everything was clean, tidy and well maintained. The grounds were lovely with loads of seating, picnic areas and grass lawns to rest on. Various statues and artefacts were dotted about making loads of photo opportunities. Freddy took a shine to this bronze Komodo Dragon.

We had our lunch in June's Pavillion which was a really spacious building, decked out with a modern wood interior.  It sold hot food from a range of counters.  We had veggie burgers, chips and salad priced at £6.  We were pretty impressed by the plateful we received!  So often you can be ripped off at attractions, but our lunch was great value and tasted good too!

Ice Cream from Cheshire Farm was on sale from an Ice Cream Parlour.  I indulged myself with a Summer Berry Sundae...well it did contribute to my five a day!

There is a fabulous new exhibit open until October 8th which is Dinosaurs at Large.  Life size animatronic dinosaurs bring to life the dinosaur was like Jurassic Park, only safer!

The models were amazing, they swung their heads and tails, roared and even spat water at unsuspecting onlookers!

Some children were a bit over wrought at the sight of the T-Rex and there were some tears...but my lot loved it!  I thought it was great too.  You're never too old for dinosaurs!

There were informative signs giving information about the dinosaurs, their size, habitat and other fascinating facts.  I could relate to this dinosaur...Rugops a.k.a. Wrinkle Face!!

The shops were nice, well stocked and not at all over priced.  There were some really nice things to buy and Freddy picked out a T-Rex toy for £3.  He was clearly impressed by the Dinosaurs at Large exhibit!

Other highlights of the day included the Fruit Bat Forest where free flying bats swoop past your head, the Butterfly House where the beautiful butterflies land on you, the Orang Utans who were so impressive in their huge enclosure, swinging and climbing on the ropes and the Tropical Realm with exotic birds that you can view from a hide.

It was a tiring prepared to walk miles around all the enclosures and exhibits.  There is a monorail and a waterbus but they are charged separately so we didn't go on them.  There are plenty of toilets, seating and snack kiosks which are essential when on a day out with little ones!  We had a fabulous day and we all really enjoyed everything the zoo had on offer.  As we left we saw the photos we had taken as we entered the zoo. Our family had been superimposed onto various scenes with some wild animals!  There was no pressure selling which was nice...but my girls wanted us to buy our photos.  So we are now the proud owners of some rather interesting souvenir pics, postcards, a fridge magnet and a keyring which cost £17!!!  

It really is a great day for all of the family.  It is nice to have a mix of entertainment, education, information and conservation all going on hand in hand.  The animals are clearly happy and well cared for.  The grounds and facilities are well kept.  There is lots to see and do.  We were impressed by the food available and the vegetarian options on offer.  The shops stock a great range of well priced merchandise...with lots of pocket money priced things for the kids. 


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