Return to the Zoo

Just shy of two weeks off a year ago we visited Chester Zoo. This week we were back again. Dani almost a year older and ever so slightly wiser. This time we went with his nana and younger cousin Stan. How would the two youngsters get on?


Stan and the boys’ nana have annual zoo passes – which were Christmas presents. So they have already been to the zoo several times this year. If we lived near enough it would be a great thing to buy. Visit as many times as you want in a year. Just pop in for a late afternoon just to visit a few of the animals? No problem. Turn up one morning for feeding time with the penguins? Easy! You only need to make a few visits and the pass pays for itself. Anyway, enough of the free advertising…

Call that a MAP ?

Of course the zoo is as great as we remembered it from last year but I do have one big gripe. The so called ‘map’ they give you has to be the worst I have ever seen. Totally confusing in places. Add to that the fact that the main stars of the show  are not always well sign-posted it is actually easy to go the wrong way. Not a problem when the weather is fine you might think. Also the zoo is really not that huge. But when you have two young primates jogging along between animal attractions, going a hundred yards out of your way a few times can start to add up. Now I am not saying this because I could not always figure it out. Everybody I spoke to about it said the same thing. How can (arguably) the best zoo in the country and one of the top such venues on the planet have such a crappy map? Beats me. Come on Chester Zoo. Please sort this out eh…

In search of Painted Dogs.

OK. Off the soap box and back onto the map reading… It was Dani’s mission to see the painted dogs this time. They had escaped us last year so this time we were both determined to see them. Meanwhile they were also on Stan’s list. Painted dogs, crocodiles and hyenas in fact. I had to explain to him that there are no hyenas at this zoo. I also couldn’t remember whether there were any crocodiles although I thought so. He kept repeating that he wanted to see the crocodiles. I would have to find them.

We found the painted dogs so a photo was needed. Getting two small boys to keep still for a photo is hard enough. The dogs obliged way in the background but the photo is still very poor. But not as poor as the map of the zoo. Did I mention how bad the map is?

Almost Everything. Including the Crocodiles…

An almost useless map never stopped us seeing just about every animal there was to see. At least those that graced us with their presence. The only animal we tried and failed to see was the Sumatran tiger. There’s always next time. We even found the crocodiles. They were the small Caiman type rather than the large man eating beasts you may find in the swampy Australian outback. It wasn’t their size that bothered little Stan however. It was their lack of movement. Ah well you can’t win them all…

The crocodiles lived in the ‘Tropical Realm’ building which also housed a fair number of tiny colourful – and lethal – frogs. For me they were as interesting as any of the other creatures at the zoo.

 Even the Extinct

This year there was a new feature. The Predators area. Basically no animals to be seen only models of extinct dinosaurs and similar Jurassic Park-like attractions. Very odd I thought that this section was so popular when it really belongs in a theme park rather than a real zoo with live animals. Naturally the youngsters like it. Dani was no exception. And it was OK – I suppose.

Even more bizarre was the fact that in the dinosaur area there was actually one glassed off enclosure which is supposedly home to Komodo dragons. Real life, large lizards. I looked for them. On the way in and on the way out. But I never spotted them. Amazingly nobody else seemed to even bother looking. They were only there for the models of the extinct.

Dani with one of the extinct models
No live tiger but we did spot this Sabre Toothed version

Giraffes and Chimps

While it is usually best to see the animals wandering around outside their ‘houses’ it can also be great to get right up close to some of the bigger animals. None more so than the giraffes. We were lucky enough to catch them at feeding time – indoors.

We also managed to see the boys’ close cousins wandering around outside. The chimps are always one of the most popular. For a reason.

Dani with some close relatives in the background

Finally. I have to ask again…

How can an establishment that is ranked so highly on the “zoo scale” (let’s call it) have such a crap map? It doesn’t add up. I can’t get my head around it. Enough…


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