If you are looking for a day out for all the family then Paradise Wildlife Park has to be on your list. When we were asked if we would like to come and spend a day at the zoo we couldn’t wait to find out more. It turned out to be an amazing day full of incredible animals, close encounters and memories. There was so much to do we couldn’t fit it all in to one day!
Howl-o-ween Wolves and Beautiful Bats
To get us in the mood for Halloween we decided to venture over to the Wolves in the Wood to see the European Wolves. We were lucky enough to see two wolves trotting around their woodland enclosure. Cub needed to be lifted up to see but the wolves came quite close, close enough to see their lean features and their long, powerful legs.
Having started our day on the hunt for Halloween animals we then made our way to the Bat House to see the European Fruit Bats. The Bat House was quite small so we left the buggy outside and I became a little (ok – a lot!) apprehensive when I realised that you enter the bats enclosure. Fortunately there weren’t any bats flying around and we couldn’t see any… then I spied a cluster of dark figures on the ceiling in the far corner. The bats were huddled together and occasionally one would wriggle or stretch its leathery wings.
Big Cat Territory
Paradise Wildlife Park is unique as it is the only zoo in the UK that is home to five big cats (White Lions, Tigers, White Tiger, Snow Leopard and Jaguar). We could hear a gruff roar in the distance and The Wild One and Cub were both excited to find out what was making that noise, so we headed off into the zoo’s Big Cat Territory. It was a cold and wet morning and the White Lions were sheltering in their indoor area. The lionesses stood looking straight at us and I was all too aware of their size and power. They are an incredible animal and it is amazing to have stood so close to them.
After coming so close to the lions I worried that our luck had already run out and we might not see any more animals so clearly. How wrong I was! We walked down to the cheetah enclosure and we were able to stand and observe a stunning cheetah only a few paces in front of us. Paradise Wildlife Park also has a viewing platform so you can also see some of the big cats from above, looking down into their enclosure, as well as on the ground.We also saw a very majestic White Tiger and two Snow Leopards prowling around their territory.
As huge fans of Judith Kerr’s classic children’s story The Tiger Who Came to Tea, we wondered whether we might catch sight of any tigers during our visit. Wandering along the tree tops walkway we couldn’t believe it when we saw two tigers soaking up the sunshine in the distance. We managed a quick visit to the Tiger Tree Tops Cafe which has the advantage of an enormous glass window. This gave us a spectacular view of the tigers who were relaxing on their own wooden platforms. I was actually amazed at how clearly we were able to see these awesome animals. The jaguars were more hidden but we still caught a glimpse.
Safari Sam’s Diner
All this big cat watching was hard work for little legs so we made our way back to Safari Sam’s Diner for some warm drinks and a bite to eat. The staff were friendly and helpful, the diner was spotlessly clean and we all enjoyed some sandwiches and drinks in the warm.
The Woodland Railway platform is opposite Safari Sam’s Diner and once the boys had heard the chugging engines there were no doubts about what to do next. The train is small and each carriage only fits two people. The short ride takes you past the wolves’ enclosure and some animal statues, as well as a few dinosaurs and a Kung Fu Panda! The price of the train ride is not included in the general admittance.
As the sun came out we wandered into the Outback Trail. This section of the zoo is open (no glass, cages or fences between you and the animals) so a wallaby might jump across your path. Again, it felt like we got so close to the animals and you could see their pouches as they sat and had a scratch in the sunshine. Then we came to the Emus which are behind a fence but they came right up to meet us and I had to stand back as it felt almost too close! If you are looking for close encounters with animals then Paradise Wildlife Park certainly delivers on this.
The Zebras were enjoying some hay right at the edge of their enclosure. Take a look at the video of or visit to Paradise Wildlife Park and you will get an idea of the proximity of the animals, I didn’t have to zoom in once! Cub is under two years old and having the animals so close meant that he was able to see, and smell the animals and enjoy the day as much as the rest of us.
Next we visited the Rainforest area and saw monkeys, tamarins and an amazing gibbon, who finished chomping on his lunch and then used his huge, long arms to swing straight towards us!
The meerkats were great fun to watch and their enclosure, as well as the otter enclosure, has glass windows so that there was no need to lift Cub up as he could see everything at his height.
Angkor Reptile Temple
In the Angkor Reptile Temple there was an animal handling session and I was lucky enough to be able to hold a python. The boys were able to clearly see the snake’s forked tongue as it tasted the air. This python wasn’t too heavy and nowhere near the size of the enormous python and anaconda at the back of the reptile house. These snakes are enormous and have to be seen!
Birds of Paradise
There was enough time for a quick visit to the farmyard to see the chickens, pygmy goats and sheep and then we headed over to the Birds of Paradise area to feed the Lorikeets. For a small charge you can into the lorikeets aviary with a keeper and a small pot of nectar. If you are very lucky the lorikeets might come and take some of your food but there are no guarantees. The lorikeets were not too keen but a brave little lorikeet sat on some rope next to us and drank the nectar from our little pot. It was a privilege to be in the lorikeet’s space and to share it with them for a short while.
An amazing day out
There was so much to see and do that we didn’t have time to do everything. As the weather was kind to us, we didn’t need to let off steam in the Tumble Jungle soft play and a game of crazy golf had to wait for another day.
We all agreed it was an amazing day out jam-packed full of incredible and memorable animals – closer than I ever expected. Some of the enclosures do seem very small and it was some comfort to read the information outside each enclosure which indicates which animals are part of breeding programmes and the ways in which Paradise Wildlife Park is contributing to conservation projects.
The success of Paradise Wildlife Park has allowed it to make contributions of over £5,000,000 to conservation projects and wildlife causes in the UK and around the world. Paradise Wildlife Park is part of the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme, with successful African Penguin, Lar Gibbon, Cotton Top Tamarin, Silvery Marmmosets and Red Ruff Lemur births in the past year alone.
What you need to know:
Paradise Wildlife Park is 20 miles north of London, 7 miles from Junction 25 of the M25.
Disclosure: This post was brought to you in association with Paradise Wildlife Park.