I have been patiently waiting to take Dani to the zoo. I could have taken him many times but I wanted him to remember his first visit. Not just any zoo. Chester zoo. The first zoo I ever visited. Now I think he is old enough so off we went…
Chester zoo was ranked as one of the top fifteen zoos in the world by Forbes. It is arguably the best in the UK and definitely the most visited with over 1.8 million visitors last year. The zoo operates as a charity and takes no money from the government. Any operation that stands on its own is fine by me.
The zoo was first opened in 1931 by George Mottershead. He designed his zoo to house the animals in open areas surrounded by moats unlike the iron-barred cages used in classic Victorian zoos. This is now a typical design feature of course as it makes for a more natural habitat.
Kids love the zoo, and this one never disappoints.
First stop was the elephant house which is right next to the entrance. Unfortunately, the elephants never ventured outside but we did see them inside eating.
One of the first animals Dani wanted to see was the lions. There were two females and one male out in the open. “Look they are fighting!” said Dani. Trust me; they were not fighting. Judge for yourself from the photo.
A quick check on the animal information board told us that the gestation period for lions is 105 days. So hopefully, in a little over 3 months’ time we could return and see some lion cubs. That would be great.
A close encounter with a close relative…
The story goes that when they built the chimp islands in the 1950s nobody knew whether the chimps would be able to swim across the moat. It turns out that chimpanzees, like humans, are not natural swimmers.
This huge beast would not give us a clear photograph. Chester Zoo has a successful rhino breeding programme. This is very important because rhinos are amongst the most endangered of the large land mammals.
We were even lucky enough to see the jaguar up close. I have spoken to people who have been to the zoo several times in recent years and never managed to see one. It really is a beautiful animal.
From first seeing the map of the zoo Dani had spotted the Butterfly House. He insisted all day that we go there. A little odd I thought with all the larger creatures to see but towards the end of a long hot day I asked where he wanted to go before we left. Sure enough, his reply was the butterfly house. While he was very excited I was, not surprisingly, a little sceptical. However, I was quite surprised. It was very interesting and well worth the time. One even landed on his hand and that really made his day.
And there’s always more…
One visit was never going to be enough. We did not even cover all the enclosures. But that’s the great thing about a place like Chester Zoo. You can look forward to and plan your next visit from the moment you exit. There are even some new attractions under construction as I type…
Now he knows what a fantastic place Chester Zoo is Dani cannot wait for his next visit.