A year ago when I was stressing just slightly about what to do with my two children during the long summer holidays coming up (more in a later blog about why I’m so looking forward to the holidays this year!), my lovely work colleagues clubbed together and bought us a family membership to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo – and from that moment on we have loved every second we can spend at the zoo!
If you’ve not had a chance to visit it before, let me tell you the reasons we love it the most.
- The space! There is so much space to run, explore, learn and see. Even when the car park looks incredibly busy, once you get into the grounds itself you can almost imagine there is no one else there. It’s even better in Summer when fewer people take their cars in and we can walk four abreast down the middle of the roads without any fear.
- The animals! Everytime we go we make friends with different animals. One week we were fascinated with the elusive red panda and spent most of our visit hanging around their enclosures, excitedly pointing out when we could see the tip of a tail. The next week we spent time talking to (and holding our noses) the hippos. Of course the penguins always get a look in as well!
- The kids can scoot to their hearts content. The zoo is probably one of the only places we go that I don’t worry about the children being ahead of me on their scooters. The wide paths, and ability for them to easily steer around other visitors is a real winner. It’s also been the place that we have learnt how to use the brake on the hills, how to listen out carefully for cars (especially electric ones) and how to read signs telling us when we shouldn’t use our scooters.
- The playground is fantastic! The children love seeing the animals, but they also love a good run about in the playground. They can easily spend an hour there without getting bored, which is really lovely on a sunny day when I can grab a coffee from the nearby cafe, and sit daydreaming on the grass without worrying what they are up to.
- The annual membership! We live about 30 minutes from ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, so it is ideally placed for us to drop into for a hour or two without feeling that we have to make the most of the day and spend every minute there. It’s sometimes used as an ‘on the way’ stop off!
We do also sometimes head off to ZSL London Zoo which is loved by the children just as much but for slightly different reasons. It is definitely more busy, and scooting is not as easy there, but the variety of animals and being able to get up close to them is a definite winner.
However, the absolute best thing ever happened Whipsnade Zoo yesterday. We were busy scooting back to the beginning, ready to head home after a lovely day in the sun, when ahead of us we could make out 5 beautiful grey, huge elephants heading towards us down the road. In absolute awe, we pulled onto the path and stood in silence as the elephant train slowly meandered past us, each elephant holding onto the tail of the one in front. Now where else in the UK would you be able to see an elephant so close that you could almost touch it? Just amazing!!