This Saturday we jumped ahead a little way in the alphabet for our W date. We visited Paradise Wildlife Park in Hertfordshire to see the animals.
On first entry we were greeted with kiddy rides, pop music and dancing animals (people in costumes) on stage, which wasn’t quite what we were expecting! Fortunately the experience improved from there. We first walked round the Woodland Walk. There were owls in large aviaries and red deer in a paddock.
The woodland walk also included a large bug hotel, a big pond and a wildlife garden, with suggestions for how to make your own garden wildlife friendly.
In the pond the frogs definitely knew spring had arrived. There were 7 or more frogs coupling up and spawning in the sunshine, with large pools of spawn, the life of the next generation of frogs has begun.
A group of beautiful reindeer were further round the walk, the males with velvet dripping from their antlers. This gorgeous young deer was very interested in the visitors.
Two wolves were in an enclosure on the other side of the woodland walk. I had never imagined wolves building a nest, but these two both had cosy looking nests formed from branches and greenery, that they relaxed down into, curling up for a nap.
Paradise Wildlife Park has a range of different and unusual big cats. The White Tiger is one of the most spectacular animals in the collection, the result of a recessive gene, and simply stunning.
The Park is also home to two female Amur Tigers and a male tiger who is a Siberian/ Bengal hybrid. They are amazing creatures, lithe and powerful.
The Park is home to two stunning Snow Leopards . They were relaxing when we first came close to their enclosure, but when a horse rider came past the park on the road outside they were up at the edge of their enclosure looking out at the horse and rider, ambling past oblivious of the threat just inside the fence.
This beautiful jaguar was relaxed and calm, the male cat spooked by something, possibly the same horse and rider, spent a little time pacing and roaring, an eerie sound, but calmed quickly once people moved away from the enclosure. It’s amazing the instinctive chill that runs down your spine when you hear the noise a big cat makes, like our bodies are automatically alert to the possible danger.
The Wildlife Park also has a whole range of other animals, including lots of meerkats, always an entertaining addition to any animal collection.
It wasn’t just the frogs that were feeling frisky either. A tapir chased his mate round the enclosure, posed on top of their mound to show how gorgeous he was and kicked up his heels as he pranced around. His companion didn’t look terribly impressed with the whole performance though!
The Zebra were also very active, biting and bucking, chasing around the pen. They were beautiful animals, their manes erect on their heads and their black and white markings stark and austere.
We enjoyed a visit to the Reptile House, where as well as this Chinese Alligator, an unusual sight, there was also an enormous anaconda. I knew anacondas were big snakes, but I had no real comprehension of just how enormous they are until I’d seen the sheer girth of the rippling muscle of the snake. I was very glad it was safely inside glass.
We also enjoyed seeing some of the native bird life that hung out at the Wildlife Park. We were serenaded while eating our picnic lunch by a trio of robins vying for territory, while a cheeky sparrow was making use of the red pandas water bowl.
There was also a petting zoo area with sheep, pigs, goats, rabbits and guinea pigs. Further round the zoo there were also alpacas and wallabies that could be fed. We enjoyed feeding some friendly sheep. This little one couldn’t quite reach to get to the food, there were two bigger animals blocking her way.
One of our favourite moments of the day was seeing the otters being fed. We were serendipitously by their enclosure just as their feed started, and once they had grabbed and stashed away their dinner of chicks and rats, the whole group of Dad and grown up otter kids, were out and playing, in and out of the pool then rolling and writhing around in the sand to dry themselves off. It was really entertaining to see their antics, I’ve never seen otters behave in that way before. It was a perfect way to end our time at the Wildlife Park.
We really enjoyed our day at Paradise Wildlife Park. As well as the well cared for collection of animals, there is also a big playground, a mini railway, lots of ride on mechanical things for the kids and a soft play area. For us, this diminished the experience a little bit, as half the park is made up of things that held no interest, but it would be a great place for families with young children. That’s only a very minor negative though.
We enjoyed our W date at the Wildlife Park. For us, a W date was always going to involve Wildlife in some way, but walking and wine would also be good dates!
What would you do for a “W” date?