We were invited to review a Mini Zoo Keeper Experience at Paradise Wildlife Park this weekend. I’d managed to keep it a secret from the boy right up until the day before. The excited dance was something to behold. The too-excited-to-sleep wake up call at 6am was less entertaining.
We arrived to the Paradise Wildlife Park discovery centre at 10.15 to some very welcome biscuits and hot drinks. The weather was not in our favour temperature wise. We met our Zoo Keeper Lauren and set off for the first task of the day – mucking out the wallabies! Every proper zoo keeper spends a great deal of their time scooping the poop, and Rian was no exception. He picked up that poop with gusto – he loved his audience!
The other wallabies were shy but this one obviously knows the all the tricks because he was straight in there when the feed bucket came out – Rian was delighted!
After the wallabies had been mucked out it was time to move on to enrichment. No one wants their animals to be bored, so the zoo has a schedule for every animal for extra playtime! First of all it was the otters! Cue delighted squeals from Mummy. I bloody love otters. We got to go behind the scenes and see the animal kitchens and grab some tasty mussels (for the otters, not us). Then we went to the enrichment/catching room. It’s full of toys for the animals and various boxes to catch them should any attempt an escape. There were also riot shields! We were reassured that these have never been needed and are gathering dust…haha!
Rian helped put the mussels into various pots and cages, and then Lauren donned an interesting bright orange cap. Because the otters are very clever they get hysterical whenever they see someone in green because they think it means food time. So the keepers wear the orange hat as additional identification – the otters now ignore normal zoo keepers, and only become hysterical when they see the orange hat. Too. Cute.
Once we’d delighted the otters with their mussel treats, we went back to the shed to get toys for the meerkats! My second favourite animal! Oh was this a treat for me or the boy? The meerkats had already had a food treat so it was time for a sensory treat. Basically balls stuffed with straw and sprayed with perfume! As well as food donations the zoo accepts perfume donations! Who knew?! Meerkats love perfume apparently and they make notes of which ones are the most popular.
The last part of the Mini Zoo Keeper Experience at Paradise Wildlife Park was a meet and greet of several smaller creatures in a thankfully warm studio. We met lovely snakes, leopard geckos (new fave!), Usain Bolt the tortoise, and super cute little hedgehog type creatures.
The Mini Zoo Keeper Experience is £120 for two hours and both Mark and I were included in the walk around so we all got to enjoy it. Not that I picked up any poo – I was documenting don’t you know. All the money made by the experiences – and there are lots of different ones – go towards conservation efforts and improving the spaces all the animals live in, such as the current extension of the jaguar enclosure.
After the experience – which we all loved and would totally recommend as a brilliant birthday present – we went all around the zoo and enjoyed seeing everything and playing on some of the great parks scattered around. Here are a couple of photos I took of my OTHER favourites (Ok, I loved all the animals ok?!) the big cats. Heart shaped eyes.