Friday, August 31, 2007

Put me in the zoo

Last year on our vacation to Normandy and Brittany, we visited Branfrere animal park where we saw (and petted) wallabies amongst other animaux.

Although our holiday this year was was but three days and two nights, we thought we'd take in a nice big zoo. The Port Lympne Zoo looked pretty good, although had I seen a topo map of the place I'm sure we would have avoided it.

And the philosophy of the park was quite different. At Branfere - the animals were on show - but on their own little islands - giving them the illusion of freedom and us the illusion of proximity. And indeed many animals were allowed to roam free around the park. At the Port Lympne ticket booth we were warned that it wasn't a zoo, but rather a park dedicated to conservation, where the animals really do come first. And that meant that they kept the night shelters open during the day and that the enclosures were really big (and as turns out full of weeds) which meant that it might require patience to see the animals.

If we hadn't already stood in line for nearly an hour just to buy our tickets, I might have turned around.

When I pay a bunch of money to go into a zoo, I expect to see some animals. And they should either be available for petting or feeding or they should do some funny tricks.

Many of the cages at Port Lympne appeared to be empty. Animals were either hiding or sleeping in others - and given that the enclosures were so big - that meant that there was a heckuva lotta walking between boring animal displays. And given the steepness of many of the paths and us pushing a stroller full of baby and baby accessories, it was a lot of work to catch a glimpse of a "small cat" that looked suspiciously like the neighborhood tabby.

But they did actually have some cool animals:

We saw baby lions


Ginger monkey

(our own little ginger monkey?)

red pandas
Red panda

and rhinos


Anonymous said...

Guess which ginger monkey I think is the cutest? You got it. Great photos. VolMOm

KathyF said...

Have you been to Woburn Safari Park yet? You should go; there's plenty of all that stuff you want there.

Anonymous said...

Port Lympne is the most sucessful zoo to intergrate animals back into wildlife. So far 51 gorillas have been returned to the congo where port lympne has bought nearly 1000 acres of land to ensure their survival. They have also managed to breed black rhinos which are critically endangered in the wild. The photo of that lion cub you have posted is a Barbary Lion, now extinct outside captivity. These type of establishments are ones that make a difference in conservation and preserve these type of animals so eventually we may be able to see them in the wild without them being threatened by the likes of us. If you want petting and feeding, buy a rabbit or something rather than further exploiting wildlife.