It’s not a big secret that I live big cats just as much as my son loves giraffes. Spending a day at a wildlife park or zoo is a perfect day out for us and something we do fairly regularly I guess. Recently we returned to one of our absolute favourite places as we spent a day Tiger Cub hunting at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. If you’ve read the blog for any length of time, you’ll know that this is the zoo I’ve been taking my son to regularly since he was a baby. It’s somewhere we know really well and in rain (there’s been plenty over the years) and sunshine (occasionally) we always had lots of fun on every visit. I save a few pennies by converting Tesco clubcard points into their Days out vouchers to use at the zoo.
Ever since Naya, the Amur Tiger at the zoo, gave birth to her cubs in June, I’ve wanted to take my son to see them. I’d had a couple of dates set in my diary and for one reason or another we’d had to postpone our visit. Finally early in September we got to spend a Saturday Tiger Cub hunting at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo and it was such a lovely experience for us both.
Of course there was no way my son was letting us go anywhere until we’d been to see his giraffes first. I did nearly have heart failure when they weren’t in their house or out in the main paddock. My son’s face dropped. Where had his beloved friends gone? But thankfully we spotted them with their keeper round the back of their enclosure and my son’s smile returned.
We looked on as they tucked into their food. We’d recently learned that they eat pretty much constantly when we’d been to a giraffe talk at ZSL London Zoo. They have a lovely enclosure at Whipsnade, including a raised walkway so you can really get a great view of these beautiful animals as they wander around.
Every trip we make to the zoo is a little different. We always have our must see animals, but we never walk the same route twice and with my eight year old son in charge, the map gets put away and we zig zag back and forth seeing whichever animals take his fancy along the way.
He’s had a connection to the rhinos since his very first visit. Whether it be the One Horned Rhino or White Rhinos, they are always a big attraction.
This way Mummy! and off he runs. The rhinos are in different enclosures but there’s always good viewing opportunities for both species and rhino wallowing was something new for us to see.
There are information points all around the zoo, telling you about the different animals and on this trip my son decided he’d photograph the ones about his favourite animals so he could remember what was written when we got home!
Hippos have featured fairly highly on my son’s list of favourite animals for a while now. We were last at the zoo in February when then Hodor the baby hippo was only seven months old and still quite tiny. We were looking forward to seeing him again now he’s over a year old. He’s grown quite a bit!
Mummy I’ve found Hodor!
My son was so happy to see the hippos enjoying the outdoor pool and we spent ages just watching them having fun.
Along with the Common Hippos, the zoo also has Pygmy Hippos and the size comparison always amazes my son. It’s so lovely for children to have the opportunity to see these animals up close.
Heading towards Base Camp for lunch we always take a moment or two to admire the flamingos. They look so elegant and serene.
It’s become a bit of a tradition for us that we have lunch at Base Camp rather than taking a picnic, especially on days when the weather is less than brilliant. We were in for a bit of a surprise though as the restaurant has changed a lot since our visit in February. We always time our pit stop for around 11.30am to avoid the masses as it’s always busy from 12 o’clock onwards. You used to have to queue up for hot food and help yourself to sandwiches and drinks. Not any more. Now it’s all waiter service, you are shown to a table and then order your food via a tablet and it’s delivered to you when it’s ready. As we’d arrived five minutes before 11.30am we couldn’t actually see what was on the lunch menu until it uploaded to the tablet at 11.30am. It’s a shame that there isn’t at least a physical menu to look at before taking a seat so that families can ensure everyone will have something they like.
That aside we did both enjoy our meals. It would have been nice if I could have added a comment to my order telling them not to bother with peas that wouldn’t get eaten and therefore would be wasted. I can’t imagine how the system works in the height of summer if I’m honest, but I’m sure we’ll try it again in the future. But back to the animals, the reason for our visit!
My son loves the animals at the zoo, but another big draw for him has always been the steam train that rides around the enclosures. No trip is complete without a ride, it is extra to the entrance price but it’s a lovely way to see some of the animals. These days my son is to be found taking videos from the train as well as when he sees the train approaching as we walked around Tiger Cub hunting at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.
We got to see that the Sloth Bears were out in their enclosure from the train so knew we wanted to visit them. As well as seeing the elephants, deer, camels and rhinos from the train we also saw these rather lovely Lapwings.
The Sloth Bears were close to the fence in their enclosure which was great for my son, as he got to see them really close up.
The Brown Bears were also rather playful.
We’ve been visiting the elephants for the last eight years and have loved watching Elizabeth growing up over the last couple of years. My son was soon running on ahead.
She’s still very cute.
The big cats are always high on my list of animals to see on any zoo trip, the European lynx were hiding on this visit, but the Lions and Cheetahs still came out to play.
Now of course the biggest reason for our trip was to spend some time Tiger Cub hunting at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. Patience is definitely required for this as we were to find out on our visit. Dad, Botzman was happy to show off for the crowd of us who were eagerly awaiting a sight of his cubs.
But Mum Naya was nowhere to be seen and two of the cubs were hiding in the undergrowth sleeping. We could just about make them out, but they were too far away to catch on my camera. So we decided we’d revisit them later in the day. On our second visit we got a slightly better view of them.
Then they woke up and were soon on the move.
We took a chance and headed to the other side of their enclosure – it was a good gamble! We might (meaning I) have squealed with delight.
Just like any young siblings, they were fighting, playing with sticks (much to my stick man’s delight) and making sure Mum didn’t get any sleep!
We stood in awe for ages just watching them playing. It was a magical sight, and well worth the wait. Eventually play time was over and the hungry cubs wanted some milk.
We decided to leave them in peace and make our last stop of the day with the Lemurs, just in time for them to have a fruit treat.
It was so funny watching them grabbing their food from the bottles, very entertaining. The perfect way to end our day Tiger Cub hunting at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. We’ll be back again soon I’m sure. Will you be visiting the tiger cubs?