Paradise Wildlife Park
Date: June 3, 2015
Gentle Parenting’s Kate enjoyed a day out at Paradise Wildlife Park for her son’s 2nd birthday with his grandparents.
The park was well sign-posted and we arrived at the Discovery Centre to a fantastic greeting from the lovely Barry, who provided us with hot and cold drinks and a surprise monkey-themed chocolate birthday cake for my son, plus a rendition of “Happy Birthday”! We were given VIP wristbands and advised we had a Magic Tour booked for later that afternoon.
The Park is very well laid out and exceptionally clean and tidy, with information bulletins and sign posts, I was pleased to see there were also sign language pictures at the animal enclosures.
The park is split into two sections; the Play Areas and Animal Park and a zebra crossing across the car park takes you from one side to the other. We first headed to the Play Area so my son could have a run about after being in the car. The Play Area was split into different sections too; with a wooden obstacle course, bouncy castles, a stage in the courtyard with music and staff doing dance routines and lots of swings, slides and tunnels. There is also a go-cart area for older children, a sand pit and lots of vintage vehicles (fire engines and trains) to climb on. My son was very taken with the Pirate Ship and all the slides! It was good to see there was also an adapted play area for children with special needs.
We had a trip on the miniature railway which was quite a short ride but fun for the little ones as there were life-size models of wild animals; tigers, wolves and even pandas and dinosaurs along the route. The route took us into the woods and past the fox and wolf enclosures which can also be seen as part of the “Woodland Walk”.
After a train ride we headed back to the Discovery Centre to meet the Zookeeper, Steve, who showed us around the Animal Park. We started off in the Birds At Paradise area and were able to enter the Lorikeets enclosure and feed them a small tub of nectar which was fascinating! The birds were beautifully coloured and very used to humans so landed on our hands to drink the nectar and even landed on our heads and “groomed” our hair – enchanting! Even my son, enjoyed seeing the birds fluttering around him.
We then went on to the Lemur enclosure and were able to enter their pen and see them up close and they are incredibly cute and inquisitive things, jumping up our legs to say hello! My son watched us adults through the glass window on this occasion as he wanted his milk instead! Steve the Zookeeper gave us some interesting facts about this particular family of Lemur’s and how they live until the ripe old age of 25!
From there we were taken to The Studio and were introduced to a Royal Python snake! He was a very relaxed snake and we were able to hold him and again, were given very interesting facts about their environment, temperament, some misconceived myths about snakes were cleared up and we had a photo opportunity! The snake was beautiful and very soft and smooth to touch with incredible patterns on its skin – definitely worth doing – even those with a fear of snakes, this experience is highly recommended to help battle any phobias in such a calm, relaxed and informative manner.
Lastly we visited the Camel and Alpaca enclosure and were introduced to Bashira the Camel who enjoyed us feeding her carrots and slices of bread! Definitely the tamest and friendliest Camel I’ve ever seen. Again the Zookeepers gave us fascinating insight as to the unique qualities of Camels, their natural habitat and history and we had a great photo opportunity to capture some great memories.
The Magic Tour lasted a little over an hour and was truly magical, where else can you get such an up close and personal experience with some incredibly beautiful and interesting species of the animal kingdom? The zookeepers were fantastic and really engaging, obviously very passionate about their work and their close relationship with some of the animals was plain to see and very heart-warming. In fact, all the staff were amazing, very helpful and friendly and take obvious pride in their job and it really shows as the general mood of the park is very positive and jovial.
Although most people would obviously prefer to see animals in their natural habitat with as much space as possible, for a smaller, more urban park, Paradise does a fantastic job of giving the animals, clean and interesting enclosures; bearing in mind some animals have come from other zoos/parks and some were born in captivity and used to humans they do a great job of ensuring that they are presented to the public in a way which is not distressing to the animals and yet gives a hugely educational value to families and children who may never get the opportunity to see such a diverse range of species in their natural habitat.
After our Magic Tour, we had lunch at “Safari Sam’s” and the menu, whilst generally typical of this type of establishment; burger and chips etc. it was good to see they also had healthy alternatives; salads and jacket potatoes. The food was cooked well and was of a very good quality with generous portion sizes and reasonably priced. There are some lovely picnic areas too so we will definitely be returning to enjoy a picnic in the summer. It would have been nice to have a little tea room somewhere on site though, for those that fancy a lighter alternative in the afternoon. There were plenty of baby-changing facilities at the park and even a couple of buggy stations, where you safely leave your buggy and let your toddler run around but retrieve the buggy easily when little legs get tired.
There were lots of children’s parties taking place and you can see that every effort is made to accommodate them; balloons, birthday cakes, upbeat music – definitely something to consider for my son in the future!
We then had a walk around the Big Cat area and saw the White Tiger at feeding time which was very interesting; again it was good to see that the public were encouraged to “get involved” and were able to view the enclosure from a viewing platform whilst a zookeeper narrated information about tigers, their preferred food and how they would hunt in the wild. The other big cats at the park; lions, tigers, jaguars and ocelots are stunning animals and the enclosures give the opportunity to view them up quite close which was fantastic! All the animals, looked very healthy and well cared for which was reassuring.
My son particularly enjoyed seeing the Zebras and watching the Tapir’s running around and diving into their pool! The Meercats were also very entertaining to watch.
Even the gift shop was well thought out, with lots of educational toys, books, games and crafts to keep children of all ages interested.
This was a fantastic day out for the whole family and is highly recommended. It’s perfect for a special treat, educational trip or a stroll around or to let the kids run wild – there really is something for everyone as there is so much to see and do! We were very pleasantly surprised that all this was only a 40 minute drive from us so we definitely plan to return and are even considering annual membership.
For more information visit Paradise Wildlife Park‘s website.