As a well done for the kids walking up Loughrigg Fell, we took them to Safari Zoo (what was South Lakes Zoo). Not far from Ulverston, Safari Zoo is all about getting as close to the animals as is physically possible. Think of a safari that you walk around, rather than a zoo and you’re getting close to what it is like. We last went at Christmas in 2014 so the little ones could meet Father Christmas and if I’m honest we were a tiny bit disappointed. The Father Christmas experience was amazing! Watching a nativity with live animals and the children performing while sitting on straw bales really helped get everyone in the mood to then walk through to the grotto where the man himself was. We were a little disappointed with the ice rink, but to be honest, that was our fault for assuming it was a big rink. The let down came with the zoo. My Mum had been with the kids and my nephews a few times and had told us how amazing it was but I just couldn’t see it. Maybe it’s because it was so busy, but it seemed chaotic and unorganised which, with two small children is a nightmare.
That being said, we said we’d go back again (not at Christmas) to give it a fair chance and I’m really glad we did. Since last year there has been a lot of changes, changes that have really benefited the visitors experience. Instead of having to wait outside in all weathers to go in when it’s busy, they have moved the entrance and made it a lot bigger so there is now shelter from the elements. There is a large play area for the children now and an indoor picnic area too. Unless we never found our way round properly last time, it seemed that there were new enclosures and experiences to be had like the Illescas Vulture Encounter, a large enclosure filled with vultures and condors that you can walk through and be amongst the birds.
So we turned up and went through into one of the walk throughs (we had to leave our bag because it had food in, but there was no way to identify who owned which bag so it felt a little insecure) where we were able to walk amongst emus, lemurs, kangaroos and much more. This opened up into the area with the monkeys, peacocks and capybara and led nicely onto the Tambopata Amazonas Experience, where you can walk amongst a host of exotic birds including parrots and egrets and see fruit bats (Tommy’s current favourite animal). A quick trip back to retrieve the bag and we wandered through the zoo.
We wanted to watch the tigers being fed because the meat is put up on top of wooden posts and the tigers climb the posts to get the meat (giving them exercise). It’s a very popular thing to see but also it’s next to the penguins, which you can hand feed too! Initially me, Tommy and Charlotte wanted to feed them, but Charlotte soon backed out so she walked around with Bob to watch me and Tommy who loved it! What a fantastic opportunity to hand feed Humboldt penguins, I certainly haven’t done it before. Nothing was going to top this for Tommy, but we still had the giraffes to see (Charlottes favourite).
We walked around the zoo looking at all the different animals and answering the kids questions as we went. The giraffes were beautiful and because of the veranda type path you can get very close to them (you are able to hand feed them, but we were unable to). We had already had lunch but we did stop in the cafe for a quick snack and a rest. After another quick peek at the giraffes we made our way to the park for a quick play before going home.
This zoo is different from other zoos. A lot of the visit is spent walking amongst different animals and having monkeys running across paths in front of you and jumping from the trees above you. There are parrots sitting on buildings too, and it all adds to the experience. No matter how old your kids are they will have a fantastic time here and kids go free all year round!
After our slightly disappointing first visit, I’m glad we went back, and we will definitely go back again (we’re even thinking of getting an annual pass). It has got me thinking about other places we have been that we have written off after a bad experience.
Maybe we should look at going back and giving those places a second chance?
Fun had (according to the kids): 14/10
Tantrum level: 2/10
Worth it: Oh yes!
Worth knowing: Safari Zoo is located in Lindal-in-Funess in Cumbria, jsut a stones throw away from the Lake District. It can get bust at times but a bit of preparation can help. It’s a very interactive zoo where a lot of the animals can be fed by hand and you get in the enclosures with them so I wouldn’t dress in your best and I would wear comfortable shoes as it is quite hilly. There is an indoor picnic area so even if the weathers bad, if you wish to keep costs down or just prefer to, you can bring a packed lunch. Conservation is a massive part of the zoo and there is information everywhere with information on their various projects around the world.
Cost: Kids go free all year round (0-15years and a maximum of 4 free child tickets per paying adult)! Adult day tickets are £15.50 with senior admissions costing £11. However, if you live nearby, it might be worth knowing that an annual adult pass costs just £31 and an annual child pass costs £18 (seniors £22). You can also choose to buy a feeding pass for £4 per person. Penguin feeding is dependent on the mood of the penguins but if it is available, it costs £1 per person. The cafe can be a bit pricey but when you aren’t paying for childrens tickets, it might not be that big an issue.
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