Spring has nearly Sprung: A trip to Blackpool Zoo
Blackpool being ‘closed’ out of the summer months is a myth; there are so many things to keep you occupied during the winter months within the resort, and Blackpool Zoo is no exception!
The zoo is open year-round with an annual programme of events to enjoy, and we went along recently to see what we could discover!
Arriving at a zoo can be a bit overwhelming; where do you go first? Luckily, Blackpool Zoo has a free, really useful phone app that features a map of the zoo, feeding times and details about the animals and facilities to make planning your day super easy.
The first fascinating residents we encountered were the Aldabran tortoises. It was a really special time to visit, because Darwin, one of the tortoises celebrated his 100th birthday! Darwin the Aldabran tortoise was one of the first animals to arrive at Blackpool Zoo in 1972. When he hatched, man had not been into space and the M6 didn’t exist. David Attenborough, Nelson Mandela and Queen Elizabeth II were all yet to be born!
Spying Gorilla Mountain on the map, we headed over that way. Alas, it was a little too chilly for them to be outside, but there are lots of small enclosures in the vicinity with some absolutely beautiful little monkeys that were nibbling away at their lunch. These enclosures had several monkeys in, so it was brilliant to see them play (and in some instances, a heated exchange!).
The Big Cat enclosure was really special. We arrived just as there was a talk going on, and it was very clear that the staff here love working with the animals, and they knew all there was to know! The Big Cats had lots of room to run and play, but the exhibit has great vantage points so you can see them at all times.
At the indoor section of the exhibit, there is also a meerkat enclosure, with these cute critters standing watch over each other . . . if only they knew what creatures lived either side of them!
Single daddy lion Wallace was ambling about for us to get a good look at him, but son Khari was busy chewing through his lunch nearby. This family story is incredibly heartwarming; Khari’s mother sadly passed away when Khari was just seven months old, and Blackpool Zoo is the only place in the UK where you can see a father-son coalition like this between lions.
Watch this video to learn about their amazing relationship:
After getting up close to the group of gorgeous giraffes, we doubled back and said a quick hello to the otters, blesbok, capybaras and tapirs on our way to see the orang utans. The two otters we saw were so playful, and it was great to see the pair of them darting about in the sunshine.
We clambered up to the orang utan enclosure just in time to catch Ramon, the enormous male, making his way over to the glass to meet us. It was unbelievable to get so close, and our hearts melted when he put his hand on the glass to reach out to a gentleman standing on the other side. There are really informative and fun information signs by the animals, and the orang utan ones were our favourite! It was great to read about their unique and cheeky personalities!
The sea lions were a total delight! We were wandering around late afternoon, and it was great to catch them being fed and zooming up and down the pool; we wish we’d made it in time for their display, but we certainly will next time!
Wolf Ridge was fascinating. You hear about wolves travelling in packs, but to actually see them skulking up and down their enclosure was so interesting (if not a little spooky!). There was loads of information about wolf pack behaviour, so we really recommend paying the wolves a visit if you have an interest in animal psychology.
I was most excited about wandering through Lemur Wood, an open air enclosure where the lemurs are free to wander about, and even crawl over you, if you’re lucky! From one end to the other, we didn’t see one lemur, but our disappointment completely disappeared when we got to their indoor home and saw this:
How sweet! It was quite a cold day, so these cute critters can’t be blamed for staying inside and getting all cuddled up. Adorable.
We’d worked up quite an appetite, so it was time for a bite to eat! Cutting through the zoo, we went into the very central Lake View Café and enjoyed a hot, filling and plentiful meal at great value, and it’s lovely to sit and be able to see the black swans gliding across the lake outside. In the summer, we imagine that it’s lovely to sit out on the outdoor terrace. Picnickers are also welcome at the zoo; there are places to sit and eat your own food throughout, as well as a coffee shop if you’d prefer a light bite.
After our pit stop, we went to visit Kate, currently the only elephant at the zoo. You’d think that her being on her own would make for a sad tale, but the current arrangement suits her quite nicely with all the undivided attention she receives!
Kate is constantly stimulated by her keepers, and in the best of health both physically and mentally. She enjoys her daily training session with her keepers and unexpected food challenges. Excitingly, Kate is getting a brand new house and roommates in 2017! Project Elephant is underway at the zoo and is seeing the building of a brand new elephant house that will be suitable to home a herd of Asian elephants. You can read about the project and see how you can get involved here.
The day was drawing to a close, but we had to visit Amazonia before heading home. There were lots of reptiles, amphibians and fish in this section. There is also an open part of the exhibit where tiny monkey are free to roam; there were lots of excited children here!
The zoo couldn’t be more family friendly. There are baby-changing facilities everywhere, a Playbarn near the entrance to the zoo and a lovely petting farm that allows for the cuddling of gentle farm animals and lots of education.
We had an absolutely fabulous day out at Blackpool Zoo. The zoo is smaller than some of its neighbours, but the range of animals to interact with was vast and it’s extremely easy to navigate between enclosures. The staff were friendly and we were really satisfied with the facilities. We’re certainly looking forward to visit Kate the elephant when the new elephant house is built to celebrate the house warming!
Thank you very much to the staff a Blackpool Zoo for making the day possible. For more information, visit the website here.