Lucy over at Dear Beautiful Boy has started this lovely new link asking me to post 5 pictures of something that’s inspired me. Her amazing pictures of all things white this week are just lovely but I’m not sure anything white would ever last in this house! So, I’ve chosen 5 pictures that I took on our last visit to Whipsnade Zoo. I’ve blogged before about how much we love it there and even in the depths of winter it’s still fantastic. Once again our thanks must go to the lovely Explainer Catherine for being the highlight of our visit for the Cheetah Keeper’s sister and for building the Cheetah Keeper’s confidence to the point where he can actually touch the bugs!
In the summer, there’s a talk about the bears every morning and if you answer the questions correctly you get to throw a bit of fruit or veg in for the bears. In the winter there’s almost no-one there and when the keeper rocks up with a bucket of veg for the bears and says ‘do you want to do this job for me’ the children burst with excitement. To be fair, so did I. There’s something very cool about being allowed to feed the bears at the zoo. And did you know that bears eat carrots like this?
This little chap is a Wolverine. He knows that when the keeper appears with a bucket of fruit & veg for the bears that his morning snack (dead mouse or chick if you wanted to know that) isn’t that far away. They dash over to as close to the van as they can get – this one stands up on his back legs and looks hopeful whilst the other one runs round and round in circles in excitement. They look very cuddly – and then you see their teeth.
This is Tashi the Red Panda. She’s 3 and they’re hoping she’s going to breed with Peter – the red panda she shares her tree with. She had her tail bitten off when she was a baby but that doesn’t affect her zipping up the tree when she fancies a quick snooze. Their favourite food is bamboo leaves and they also have hypermobile paws to help them balance – which delighted the Cheetah Keeper and his sister because (unlike most zoo visitors) they can turn their hands out as far as a red panda can.
The Cheetah Keeper has been very wary (well, terrified) of the bug handling sessions in the Discovery Centre. All credit for him finding his confidence must go to Catherine who has been so patient with him, and to his sister who has encouraged him without pressure all the way – and wanted to take photos of him “being brave”. This is Delilah – she’s a stick insect and likes climbing over warm hands. Mine are always cold – there’s a relief!
Finally, meet Marvin. He’s a hissing cockroach. His skeleton is on the outside and he makes his hissing noise by blowing out air through the gaps in his armour. He eats plants apparently and won’t live for that long. The kids think his antennae are really cool – good for them.
Whipsnade inspires me every time we visit. I love the space, I love the light, I love the animals, I love the fact that every time we go, the children look at something with wide-eyed wonder and we learn something new. I love the fact my children aren’t bothered by the mud or the deer poo, that they appreciate wrapping up warm and getting out in the fresh air (and believe me, it gets extremely cold up there on the Downs) and that they remain fascinated by what will happen next. If they could just avoid asking me (again) to explain in more detail how the baby hippo got out from her mummy’s tummy…?