The last time I visited a zoo was all the way back in 2011. A massive four years ago! I can’t believe I allowed that much time to pass before going again.
As you might have guessed from my opening gambit, when the Chap asked where I would like to go this weekend, I said Banham Zoo. He was chuffed because he loves monkeys and agreed it was a splendid way to spend a sunny Sunday. Excitedly, we bundled into the car and set off on an animal-based adventure.
I will say at the outset, I should have remembered how much walking is involved with any zoo before we set off. If you’re planning to go (and see every single animal), wear some comfy footwear. We walked continuously for around three hours and I felt like my feet might fall off on the way home! Of course, three hours of entertainment makes the entrance fee of £20 for adults look like very good value indeed.
What I love about Banham Zoo is that the animals look content and in good condition. I hate seeing animals all couped up or pacing, especially the monkeys and big cats, but at Banham they all look happy and not at all bothered by the bracing wind!
Not only did we see howler monkeys, spider monkeys and tiny marmosets, but penguins, tarantulas, zebra, kangaroos, giraffes, snow leopards, cheetahs, tigers and ocelots.
My absolute favourite animal was the red panda though. I have always had a bit of an obsession with them, but the one at Banham is so cute. When I first arrived he was curled up in a ball, but I managed to stop by before the zoo closed and he was climbing up trees, having a drink and balancing on bars. I could have watched for hours (but I think the staff wanted to go home). I had no idea that they are a member of the raccoon family, although just by looking at it I can tell it’s not actually a panda! I was the only visitor there at that time and it felt a bit magical, having some alone time with such a beautiful creature.
Entering the lemur enclosure was pretty special too. You can walk around inside and the lemurs run around you. Getting up close to them was incredible, but they seemed fairly non-plussed about us. They seemed more interested in eating bamboo and lounging in the sun!
We were also lucky enough to see both the snow leopards and the tigers being fed. The zookeepers give factual talks while they feed hunks of raw meat through the wires, which is fascinating. Snow leopards can survive in temperatures around -40 and have been known to move 22kgs of meat after a kill. And the four Siberian tigers are magnificent – I don’t think I really appreciated how big they were until they stood on their back legs to reach their food. Or how big their teeth actually are!
I’m keen to now take a visit to Africa Alive and Thrigby Hall too and see what they have to offer, so if anyone has any recommendations, you should leave me a comment.
To see what I love about red pandas and why you should visit the one at Banham Zoo, check this video out.