Monday, 22 August 2011

We're going to the zoo, zoo, zoo...

There is something about the zoo that turns me back into a small child. I get so excited it’s ridiculous. When we went to a zoo a few years back with our nephew I kept trying to show him how to feed the animals in the petting zoo. When he got fed up of trying to hold his hand out properly I was delighted – more food for me to feed the animals with!

This Saturday I’d been with my boyfriend for a whole six years and we decided to celebrate by going to the zoo for the day. Thanks to V festival at Chelmsford, Colchester Zoo was not an option so we opted for London Zoo instead; somewhere I haven’t been since I was very young. (Note: this was also the first year in about 3 or 4 that we haven’t been to V, hence the bitterness towards it this year!)

I was so excited; I couldn’t wait to get there. I was slightly concerned if London could match up to my beloved Colchester Zoo. I used to go there every Summer for years with my Aunt and Uncle, without fail. On the drive on the A12 to get there we’d also stop on the way at either the Happy Eater for toasted teacakes, or the Little Chef for pancakes or ice cream. It was like a big adventure for me, but without fail I would always end up getting over excited whilst we were there and I’d end up tripping over and scraping my knees or similar. I didn’t care though, nothing could ruin the fun of the zoo.

Well, I actually found I was pleasantly surprised. I still feel I prefer Colchester Zoo (to be fair it has got years worth of memories on its side), but London had some really good areas. I must admit I am quite bad in that I don’t consciously think about the size of the enclosures for the animals when I go to the zoo, something that was brought to my attention when I told a friend about my upcoming visit. Although I have, unfortunately, been to ‘zoos’ on holiday where the animals were in a right state and it broke my heart. I still to this day say I should have sent my photos off as proof of animal cruelty when we came back from our holiday in Fuerteventura and had experienced the hotel ‘zoo’. Awful.

Anyway at London I did find a lot of the spaces were of a good size (well let’s face it nothing is going to be as good as the wild and the natural environment they belong in, but still). The best bit I liked were the number of special areas where animals were allowed to roam free amongst the visitors. The signs were clear not to touch as the animals could bite, or you could pass you germs on to them, but it was a nice feeling being so close to nature. Highlights were Butterfly Paradise, Meet the Monkeys, Blackburn Pavillion and Rainforest Life. All of these exhibits involved the wildlife jumping, running, flying or crawling in a more natural environment around you, the visitor. It was great. Now, I know I’m a bit of a freak for taking photos, but I took 140+ photos on Saturday and the majority of them were at the zoo. It was fab.

Also, being the mug that I am for all things tourist I also spent quite a bit of cash there, the tickets alone were around £19 – either I am getting really old or the cost of things has really gone up extortionately! Anyways, although the fantastic weather forecasters had predicted a super hot day on Saturday (one of the reasons we picked the zoo), it did in fact start pouring with rain about half an hour into our visit. Therefore the first purchase (for my boyfriend, as of course Little Miss Anally Organised here already had an umbrella packed) was an umbrella to keep dry.

Now, I also feel I need to share with you another reason I love the zoo – monkeys! I absolutely adore chimpanzees, teeny tiny capuchins and loud and dominant gorillas. Not to forget fiery red-faced tamarinds and the big friendly giants that are orangutans. Love. Them. All. The fire of my monkey madness had already been stoked by my recent visit to see Rise of the planet of the apes. I really did enjoy that film and fell in love with Caesar – how cute is he? That bit when he’s all wrapped up in the red blanket, aw… I actually told my boyfriend I want a monkey (well, sorry ‘ape’ and obviously it’d have to be after I’ve got my micro pig!) Can you believe, yes I’ll admit it, I cried more than once in Rise of the planet of the apes, I had tears running down my face over a computer generated image! Oh dear…

Although there were no chimps to be seen at London Zoo, we did enjoy the sites of the humongous gorilla and his friends playfighting and what felt like them putting on a show for us visitors. The picking (and then eating what they discovered) of each other’s bottoms wasn’t quite so appealing, in the same way the aadvarks who slept with their heads in each other’s nether regions was pretty gross, if rather amusing.

So of course as a souvenir I had to buy some monkey-related presents. I am now the proud owner of a tiny toy chimpanzee and a snuggly, cuddly, rather realistic-faced gorilla. Oh and a whole London Zoo photobook of cheesy images of me and my man and an I heart London Zoo bag (hey it was £1 when you brought items in the shop, give me a break!)

Much to my boyfriend’s amusement, I took great care in getting my new pals home and agonised over naming them – they’re called Archie (chimp) and Toby (the gorilla) if you’re interested. See what I mean? Take me to the zoo and I turn back into a child every time!

On that note I feel I have embarrassed myself enough. I won’t tell you how I shrieked more than children around me in disgust at the nighttime and bugs exhbits over rats, spiders and scorpions. Or how I spotted ‘Dorey’ and ‘Nemo’ in an aquarium area before most of the kids there too. Oh and did I mention how long I spent staring at and photographing the pelicans and just had to tweet how ‘Melican’ was ‘meeting the pelicans’.

Okay, that’s enough, I think we’ve got it pretty much confirmed, I am not to be allowed to the zoo again. Never mind all this animal safety malarkey; it’s clearly not good for my mental health either!

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