I am a total kid at heart. Give me a day at the zoo, a giant bouncy castle or a trip to a the park and I am one HAPPY (30-something year old) lady. So I can’t fib to you, having an absolutely wild, fun-loving, excitable 2 year old is a total pleasure – not just because he is AWESOME – but because it gives me the perfect excuse to drop the sensible act and be childish with him.
Recently, we had a week or three of staying at my Mum’s house while there was some work being done at our old flat and we were waiting to move. She lives a stones throw away from Whipsnade Zoo – so as soon as the weather turned and we saw a bit of sunshine, we hopped in the car and headed to the zoo for some family time. AND IT WAS AWESOME.
Mum wasn’t feeling 100% on the day, so instead of making her walk miles around the zoo we decided to do the drive around option – which really was a great idea as the weather changed halfway round and the heavens opened! Regardless of weather though, driving round with a toddler is brilliant, as they don’t get tired and whiney, but do get to see all the animals and do the best bits!
Little man has been to the zoo before, but he’s so tiny it’s still full of wonder and excitement and newness for him. We started off with the Chimps, which we thought he’d love, but they were sleeping so he wasn’t over interested. Again – Penguins – he wasn’t enthralled. Bears went down rather well, but they weren’t doing much, so we hopped back into the car and made our way round until we got to the Hippos.
OH. MY. GOSH.
My child is obsessed with Hippopotami/Hippopotamuses (pick your favourite). I mean, completely and utterly AMAZED by them. Unfortunately, the Hippos had been doing a fair amount of “territory marking” (with poo) when we went inside to see them, so it was a tad honky, but did my little man care? NO, unfortunately not. We stayed in there for AGES and he was genuinely upset when we finally insisted on moving outside (where the Mummy and baby Hippo were hanging out). So we went back in for a little longer. Whatever makes my kid happy.
After the hippos, he was on a high, so we gawped at the Rhinos, the elephants, the Zebras….and then, the TIGERS. He was convinced the tiger wanted a little bit of his sandwich, which was the cutest thing ever, but honestly, I was just in awe of the magnificence of these incredible beasts.
We finished off with the Sealions (he LOVES watching them swim) before heading to the play area. Having never been to Whipsnade with a bubba before, I hadn’t realised how excellent the park and soft play area are. The area is surrounded by a petting zoo with all the usual farmyard animals, with tractors to play on, so it’s perfect for little ones, and I honestly think you could make a day of this space alone. In fact, this was one of the deciding factors in buying a ZSL membership for the year. Of course, the animals are exciting, but add to that you have a huge space to play and it’s a winner in my eyes! It also makes perfect sense financially as it saves you loads of money (and helps conservation while you’re at it, which is ace).
I’m looking forward to some sunny days so we can head back up to the zoo, catch some lions (not literally of course, that would be dangerous), see the Butterflies in their stunning new house and spend some more time with the other animals we didn’t get to see on this occasion (before I get dragged to play on tractors, obvs!)
It was a smashing day out, and I would massively recommend it to anyone who fancies some family fun. It’s a very different experience to London Zoo, although both are brilliant. It’s actually quite astonishing how many different species ZSL look after, and what a fantastic job they do in protecting the world’s animals. You can find out a little bit more about that here – or visit the main Whipsnade zoo site here.
(It looks like I’ll be there a lot over summer now we’re members, so give me a shout if you’re going, we can grab a coffee!!)
PS: If your children are on easter break, you should also read this: Seven reasons to visit Whipsnade during the Easter holiday