When my son was 6 months old one of my Dad’s cousins suggested meeting up at a zoo local to her for the day. It seemed like a great idea, I loved animals, it would be easy to walk around with a pram and a great place to chat, eat and explore. I fell in love with the place on that first visit, and it’s now an Whipsnade Zoo for us to be seeing old friends at Whipsnade Zoo.
It’s a firm favourite for a day out for us. My son knows his way round so well now, and pretty much plans our day out from the moment we arrive. Set in beautiful countryside, not far from Aylesbury, Whipsnade Zoo offers a great day out for all the family and there’s always something new to explore.
The weather forecast was for rain showers throughout the day, and as some parts of Whipsnade Zoo are quite exposed, we dressed accordingly. Luckily we were actually under cover or having lunch through the main showers, but with waterproofs on, we were ready for anything and happy to explore.
The giraffe house and walkway are always a big draw for my son.
It wasn’t that long ago since we’d been to Marwell Zoo and saw them being fed. So he was eager to spend time seeing old friends at Whipsnade Zoo. He’s watched the young giraffe growing up at Whipsnade and over the last few years, it has to be our first stop of the day. He’s totally enthralled with these animals.
We all love seeing old friends at Whipsnade Zoo, and all have our own favourites. Clearly Monkey’s are the giraffes, but we all have a soft spot for the Rhinos, whether it be the White Rhinos or the One Horned Rhinos. Monkey still has the soft toy Rhino I bought him on his first trip, and I guess one day he’ll get tired me and Dad’s cousin telling him that the rhinos talked to him when he was a baby and Monkey gurgled back!
But it’s always nice to see new animals being introduced to the zoo, earlier in the year a group of five African Hunting Dogs moved in and we got to see them lazing around for the first time.
The great thing about visiting zoos is that you can see something different on every trip. We’ve been going to Whipsnade Zoo for eight years now, and we’d never seen the Wolverine, until out trip earlier this month. Sadly my photos didn’t come out at all as he was too high up in dark trees. But with the naked eye, we all got to see him for the first time. Now we know what he looks like, we’ll be looking up in the trees for him again in the future.
As well as the animals, there are some lovely views across the countryside, and we never tire of just looking at them. There are always benches to be found that are just calling out to be sat on.
With Christmas getting ever closer, Monkey decided that we’d best make sure that the reindeer were well fed in preparation for their hard work later in the year. No need to worry, they all seemed fine.
There are always those animals that are rather camera shy when we visit Whipsnade Zoo. This time around it was the Common Hippos, with new arrival Hodor keeping close to his Mum Lola in the indoor pool. We got a glimpse of his little nostrils at one point but nothing else on this trip. Luckily the Pygmy Hippos was being more cooperative.
This was our first trip to Whipsnade with my telephoto lens and I was eager to try to capture the elusive cheetahs, who are normally very good at hiding in the long grass of their enclosure. We’ve been before and only seen the very tips of their ears and barely seen the cubs when they were little. Would we be luckier on this trip? We certainly would.
One day I would love to go on Safari with my son, and show him these wonderful animals in the wild, but for now, to share their beauty with him closer to home is a treat in itself. I’m a firm believer that modern zoos and wildlife parks have a very valid role, both in conservation and education and seeing my son’s reaction every time he sees the animals, I know he’s got a love for these animals that he couldn’t get from reading books and watching documentaries.
The flamingos are always a draw. They’ve fascinated me since childhood and my son feels the same. Their colour, their legs, long necks and beaks, all make them stand out.
It’s no big secret that we are a cat loving household, and that extends to the big cats at Whipsnade Zoo. Last year we got to watch the tigers drinking at the water’s edge, this time around they were just having a doze.
The lions weren’t so fussed with us either, it was raining when we went to see them, and the male was nowhere to be seen on this visit.
On previous visits the European Lynx has been painfully shy and sometimes impossible to spot, but on this visit he was really lapping up all the attention.
A wonderful animal to see up close.
I’d become a Great Auntie on the morning of our visit, and my niece and I both love elephants so we just had to go and say hello to them and let them know that baby A had arrived.
I’m sure she’ll get to meet the elephants with her Mummy and Daddy soon, but I sent her some photos in the meantime. A new Elephant House was opened by the Queen in April this year and it looks great but it was so nice to see the inhabitants enjoying their outdoor enclosure and to watch the babies playing games.
We always spend ages seeing old friends at Whipsnade Zoo in the elephant area, sometimes we even get to watch them going for a walk around the zoo, which is a wonderful sight too.
The zebras were far less playful and clearly wanted to ignore us as we walked past.
But we still got to catch up with a few other favourites, watch a cheeky squirrel collecting conkers and see the Red River Hogs, which we seem to have somehow missed on previous trips.
Seeing old friends at Whipsnade Zoo is always so enjoyable, and I know it’s somewhere we will return to time and time again in the years ahead. I normally collect Tesco vouchers and use them to exchange for days out vouchers to Whipsnade Zoo, it’s a really good deal.
Do you have a favourite zoo or wildlife park you like to visit? We’ve got a few trips lined up in the weeks ahead and are always looking for new places to explore.