We tend to visit the Cotswold Wildlife Park fairly regularly, mostly because I am obsessed with animals; specifically all of the Humboldt Penguins and little Ian, the park’s first male baby Rhino. Adam loves the park and the animals as much as I do, so he certainly didn’t complain when I asked if we could visit on our second wedding anniversary.
Cotswold Wildlife Park is a very special place; despite being a high profile local attraction with one of the largest zoological collections in the UK, the park manages to maintain the original core values of a family run business which is full of heart and a personal touch. Still owned and managed by the Heyworth family, the park is solely funded by visitors and receives no funding from outside organisations. If you have never visited before, I urge you to go just as soon as you can.
Our visit began, as it always does, with a flying visit to see the Penguins and a promise of returning later in the day for the afternoon feeding session. The Penguins are so well looked after here, and the keepers are incredibly knowledgeable; they really do work very hard to keep their little feathered friends happy.
We spent a large chunk of the morning taking a ridiculous amount of photos of the utterly gorgeous baby Rhino Ian (who has more recently been joined by younger brother, John – named after the park’s founder) and watching lovely Stanley, the baby Zebra, chilling out in the sunshine.
The park has been blessed with a plethora of baby animals this year, and one of the other highlights of our day was meeting Bert and Ernie, the two little donkey foals who were just charming and so adorable. I must admit to wanting to take them both home with me, so enamoured was I.
Another mention must go to the park’s gardeners; the gardens looked particularly impressive during our visit – the bees were certainly enjoying the lavender by the main house.
The most memorable part of our visit, however, was definitely the Madagascar walk through – I mean, it really isn’t everyday that a one armed ring-tailed Lemur called Nelson uses you as a climbing frame and deftly punches your husband in the unmentionables in the process!
Poor little Nelson had gotten spooked by an overenthusiastic small child exclaiming ‘monkey’ amid screams of excitement and he decided to jump onto the nearest ‘tree’ which happened to be my leg, and, as it turned out in fact my entire body which he swiftly climbed, whilst contemplating jumping on to Adam (but instead just giving him a friendly nudge… ) before finally making a break for it onto an actual tree. I was left with a small but perfectly formed reminder of our special encounter in the form of footprints across my outfit, which I proudly wore for the rest of the day. As I assured the lovely keeper, most people pay good money to have such a close encounter with these beautiful animals, so I considered myself very lucky indeed, though I am not so sure Adam felt quite the same.
Nevertheless, we will both be heading back to Cotswold Wildlife Park very soon to meet John and hopefully have another encounter with Nelson, although preferably a slightly less painful one for Adam!