Last week it was my birthday, and to distract myself from my age, I decided to spend the day being a big kid at the zoo. Now, South Lakes Zoo is not just any zoo, it is a safari zoo, with full on animal interaction. I am seriously regretting not having been before. I walked around with a permanent smile plastered across my face for the entire day. I genuinely think it was the happiest I have been in a very long time. The day was just pure joy.
On arrival we headed down the path to the wooden hut style entrance and bought our tickets (£16 per adult). We also wanted to make the most of every feeding opportunity at the zoo, so we purchased two wrist bands for £6 each. This granted us one feed with the giraffes and one feed with the lemurs. It also included a ride on the mini train but we didn’t take advantage of this (maybe next time). We also purchased 2 bags of safari feed at £1.50 a bag (we should have bought more!!).
We then ventured into the zoo itself, full with excitement at what the day ahead may hold. We hovered for a while outside the entrance, trying to decide if we needed to purchase a map or not, in the end we (naively) opted to proceed without. We headed up the hill and were soon greeted by a stunning rhino, literally a couple of metres away. My boyfriend was in his element as he absolutely loves rhinos, and we spent quite a while taking lots of pictures and watching this magnificent creature go about its daily business.
Then came the best bit, the ‘safari zone’. This is where animals run free, and you can hand feed some of them (with the bags of feed we bought at the start). I was initially greeted by this beautiful and graceful crane. He (or she?) politely ate the feed directly out my hand, it was a moment of pure joy. That was until an evil emu wandered over and attacked my hand and stole the bag of feed. Nice moment ruined.
After my boyfriend had got over the hilarity of what had just happened, and I had recovered from the shock, I noticed an opportunity to grab what was left of the bag of feed, as two emu’s had begun to fight over it and dropped the bag on the floor without noticing. We ran off quickly along the path before coming to a stop in front of my favourite fella of the day, my new found kangaroo buddy.
He was just the cutest guy and not at all phased by me approaching him. I tried to give him some food but he just ignored it and instead seemed fixated on the now empty paper bag, to the point that he grabbed the bag from my hands and started eating it. It was such a bizarre moment.
After taking way too many pictures with the kangaroo, I gave Chris a chance to have his taken. As it turns out, he has a full on phobia of kangaroos, which I have now just discovered. He kept quite the distance and constantly seemed on edge whenever we were near a kangaroo for the rest of the day!
As we made our way through the safari zone, followed by a flock of pigeons, ducks, emus, peacocks and parrots (apparently they had cottoned on to us being the ones with the food) we were greeted by some other cute animals including Chris’ favourites the capybara, some super cute prairie dogs and (from a distance) lemurs. There were also these super cute maras that for some reason loved the attention and having their photo taken. One even took a few selfies!
Out of food (should have bought more!) we headed towards the area where the lemur feeding would be taking place. As the zoo was quiet (it was a Friday in October) there were only a handful of people there, so we got a more intimate experience with the lemurs. The zoo keeper gave us some background on the lemurs the zoo has. (They had two types of lemurs, they looked very different but just as cheeky as the other!). I was baffled as to how the zoo keeper could call them all by name as they looked the same to me. Soon it was my turn to feed the lemurs. They queue up on the wooden railing to be fed, although they do not do this patiently. They were clambering over each other and stretching up on their back legs, trying to outstretch the lemur next to them to guarantee they were the one to be fed.
After our lemur encounter, we headed into the main bit of the zoo and spent some time in ‘Carnivore Country’. You have amazing views of the tigers, leopards, jaguars and wolves as there are lots of glass partitions, as opposed to wires, and the area they live in is rather open, allowing visitors to feel as if they are almost in there with them. At one point, there was just the width of the glass between me and a lion and when it roared I jumped out of my skin!
Soon it was time to head to the giraffe feeding. This was more popular than the lemur feeding and so there was more of a crowd gathered. We still got our moment and I held out my leafy branch for the giraffes to munch on. It was incredible to be so close to these majestic creatures.
We were starving by this point having wondered around for the past few hours without stopping. We headed to the restaurant for a hot meal and a sit down! There were loads of kiosks dotted around the zoo but these were all closed, I presume because it was a week day in low season. We ended up having the restaurant to ourselves and sat right by the windows looking out across where the giraffes were. It was awesome to watch them play as we ate our lunch.
Stuffed to the brim from our pie and chips, we ventured back out into the zoo for our penguin feeding. This was the part I was most looking forward to as I absolutely love penguins. It isn’t cheap though, you pay £1 per fish! But it all goes to conservation of penguins in the wild, so it is for a good cause. But it can get quite pricey as you will want to give them more than the one! Luckily, there were only 4 of us feeding them that day and as the zoo keeper had a huge bucket of fish, after we had paid a few pounds each to feed them, he let us feed them the rest of the fish for free. This was just awesome! The penguins got so excitable when they were being fed, it was too cute. You have to watch them though as in their excitement they get quite snappy, and wow their peck can hurt!
After feeding the penguins we headed back through the safari zone one last time to say goodbye to our new found friends. My kangaroo buddy spotted me straight away and came bounding over to say hello and when we left he ran along the perimeter fence alongside us as far as he was allowed.
As we were leaving I purchased some toy giraffe ears to wear as a memento from this awesome day. I cannot wait for my next trip to South Lake Zoo!