It’s the school easter break and I have the pleasure of my grandchildren, Jessica (12) and twins Theodore and Alexis (6) so we headed to our local zoo.
The day was dry and unusually mild, as well as being fairly quiet at Dudley Zoological Gardens so it was a perfect day to visit.
I know zoos can be quite controversial but I for one like to know that at least some of our endangered species may survive this century.
Located on Castle Hill Dudley, this zoo is on a fairly steep hillside, even though it is well paved it is perhaps a difficult place to see if you are less steady on your feet or pushing a wheelchair, I have visited in the past with toddlers in a small pushchair and you do need to plan your visit to get the most from your day as there are a lot of steps too. That’s when the train really helps.
We used the chairlift for the first time this visit, previously I considered the twins too small (the chairlift is recommended for over 7) but it’s a grand way to arrive. If you can not use the chairlift there is also a train that takes visitors all over the grounds. Sadly for us the train was not running yesterday, but again it’s an exciting way for small children to travel.
The remains of Dudley castle still remain at the very top of the hill and your admission to the zoo means you can also explore the ruins.
We took a picnic lunch and there are ample tables and park benches for you to enjoy your picnic in comfort. There are also fast food restaurants, should you not want to carry your lunch around all day. Sitting on the grass in the castle grounds is also a lovely option when the sun is shining.
We timed our visit so as to be at Penguin cove for the talk from a keeper. Alexis most favourite animal, and we watched the penguins have their fishy lunch much to Alexis delight.
Having seen the humbolt penguins have their lunch we followed the path to see the sea lions have their lunch too. I always love seeing the orangutans, I saw a new baby orangutan arrive a few years ago, he is as big as his mum now, it’s nice to know his habitat will not be destroyed to plant cheap palm oil.
The lemur enclosure is a one acre space that has the four types of lemurs running free in, usually lots of lemurs who like to people watch come up reasonably close but yesterday it was windy and they were all hunkered down snug in their indoor space. We did see a couple of lemurs braving the windy weather.
Theo wanted to see the big cats. There are lions close to the lemur enclosure and tigers are right across the other side.
The lions were relaxing on the grass of their enclosure and we were able to get quite close to them. I have a photo from a previous visit with one of the tigers just about 6cm from me, behind a reinforced glass window.
We ended the day at the small funfair. A few toddler friendly rides for the smallest members of your family, Theo and Alexis enjoyed the bigger rides but we’re not big enough to ride the dodgems, Jessica loved the dodgems and we finished on a little rollercoaster, just the right size for us all to enjoy one ride together. The funfair was reasonably priced with 35 tokens costing £20. and the rides cost 1 or 2 tokens.
Obligatory visit to the gift shop, where Alexis got herself a ‘lifesized’ soft and cuddly penguin toy. Theo bought a meerkat to remind him of the time we had spent watching the meerkats and Jessica chose a fluffy owl soft toy.
It was beginning to get a bit cool around 5pm so we headed a very short walk to the Harvester Castle gate business Park, where I had arranged to meet up with Mr. Red at 6pm.
The harvester used to be called the Bostin Fittle, but now it just seems to be Harvester. It has a great children’s menu and is very family friendly. It really is only a short walk (less than 10 minutes) from the zoo and it’s where we usually finish a day trip to the zoo. Theo had a child’s portion of half a chicken, Jessica had salmon, Alexis and I both had chicken with cheese, bacon and bbq sauce and Granddad had a half rack of ribs. As I said, it’s very family friendly. I had a very welcome Gin & Tonic and the grandchildren had a soft drink whilst we were waiting for granddad to meet up with us.
Lovely service and nice food served in a clean and friendly environment make this the perfect place to finish our day.
The cost for entry to the zoo was under £50 but the funfair is charged separately. We shall be returning to Dudley zoo again in the summer, they seem to be permanently modernising and improving the older parts and it’s nice to see that. A lot of the old concrete pits still remain but they have changed a lot since they were built, now having grass instead of concrete under foot/paw and enriched with climbing frames, sunbathing platforms etc. Our attitudes to animals well fair has changed since this zoo first opened in 1937, yes it is sad to see a tiger cooped up when he should have acres and acres but their numbers are in rapid decline, at least the captive ones will never fall victim to a poacher. By visiting you can make sure that the zoo has the money to continue improving the facilities. So please don’t hate zoos but instead try to support their work and improve animals lives by visiting them and making sure they have funds to give their inmates a great life.