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Rhinos on the lawn
Cotswold Wild life park (Burford)
Member Name: MelissaRuth
Cotswold Wild life park (Burford)
Date: 01/11/12, updated on 01/11/12 (109 review reads)
Advantages: A full day out. Beautiful gardens. Good selection of animals
Disadvantages: No elephants or tigers
The Cotswold Wildlife Park as its name suggests is in the beautiful Cotswold region of England about a 30 minute drive to the West of Oxford and near the pretty town of Burford. It is located on the A361 and also is easily reached by car from Swindon and Cheltenham. The park is not serviced by a bus route. As you enter the park you will drive past llamas and antelopes before reaching two pay kiosks. Make sure you have your money or cards in the car with you and not in the boot as you pay from the car before parking. It was a busy day as we arrived just after the ten o'clock opening time but the queue quickly dispatched as extra mobile ticket sellers were also taking entrance money. We were then directed to the nearly carpark. This is a large grassy area of parkland with lots of large shady trees and compacted earth driveways across it. I'm not sure how this would fare in wet weather, but there was no sign of mud and churned up ground so I assume it has not been a problem. There is a smaller paved carpark too which was being used for people with mobility difficulties but maybe is used for others on quieter days too.
**What is there to see*
Once parked there are several different ways into the park so no matter which area of the park you are in you are not far from your car so it is easy to pop back for picnics etc. As you have paid before parking there is no issue with re-entry to do this.
The parkland where the animals are housed is based around a large Cotswold stone country house. The cafe and a brass rubbing centre occupy the ground floor of the house. One of the things that I was so pleased to see and hadn't remembered as vividly from past visits was the beautiful planting that exists throughout the park. I was almost more interested in looking at the bright and cheerful displays of flowers that existed throughout the park than the animals - they obviously take a huge pride in the appearance of the park; there are great swathes of tall beautiful but not too formal plants.
Our first stop was the rhinos as these were the animals that my nephew was adamant that he had come to see. They share a large open area with the zebras which would once probably have been the front lawn of the house. There are three rhinos and quite a few zebras including a cute two month old foal. The Cotswold Wildlife Park is famous for its collection of four giant tortoises who live near the rhinos and were surprisingly active during this visit. One is new, but the other three have been at the park longer than I've been visiting and I don't think they've changed at all!
Continuing on we passed camels as we headed for the lion enclosure where you have a great view of the lion and lioness through glass panels. Giraffes are a new addition to the park since we were last there and I was very impressed with the visitor experience of their home. A walkway has been built alongside the enclosure leading you up to a height where you are eye level with these tall beasts, both indoors and outdoors. I have never been so close to a giraffe's head before.
Cheetahs are the last animal in this area and by now you are at the far side of the rhino lawn and have a great view of the house with the wildlife in front. Ostriches are on your route back towards the house and we then diverted into a woodland walk area where there were many types of exotic looking ducks as well as the more colourful flamingos and even some 'big bad wolves' that our little 2 year old was so impressed with that we had to make a return visit. Wallabies, tapirs and some strange pig type animals were all also living in this section of the park.
Next came the children's farm area where we spent a long time and it was definitely the favourite part for a small boy. Indoors there are large pens with rabbits , guinea pigs and chickens and cows. These animals are free to wander into their outside pens but as it was so hot we found them inside where it was cooler. Outside you can head into the goats area and play with the goats. Lots of small kids (goat and human) seemed to be having great fun running and rolling down the little hillocks in this section. Shetland ponies, donkeys and some incredibly noisy pigs who had spotted lunch on its way were also popular here with the children. Signs encourage handwashing at the sink provided after touching the animals.
Back in the stone outbuildings of the house we had a quick trip into the reptile house spotting an assortment of iguanas, snakes including the most deadly black mamba, baby crocodiles and two large crocs. As it was so hot the only other indoor area that we chose to go in was to see the bats who occupy one of the barns, but because it was so dark we found it quite hard to see them. I usually enjoy the insect house even though it is fairly small. I'm fascinated by the ants as they carry their enormous cargo of leaves in a long procession across their tank and also love to see the tarantulas and other spiders and butterflies. I think there is also an aquarium. In the centre of this courtyard area are more tortoises but of a much smaller variety this time and also some gibbons that were great fun to see leaping around.
The walled garden was another area that we definitely didn't want to miss as the penguins live here with feeding times at 11.00 and 4.00 and they're always fun to watch diving in and swimming. Meercats and birds are also to be found here and as we entered one walk through aviary we were surprised to find a gorgeous little owl right in front of us just waiting to pose to have his photo taken. This garden is one of the most spectacular from a horticulture point of view. Spiky cactus and hot bright colours are visually striking as well as lush lawns and foliage so I spent quite a bit of time photographing these. Quite a few of the smaller monkey species are popular as you leave the far end of the walled garden and then a lemur walk where you can get right up close to the lemurs, if they'll let you, as you wander through their habitat. We were told that as it was after lunch nap time and warm the lemurs weren't quite as active as normal, but we were happy with the ones we saw. A mother was sitting nursing twin babies and then decided to walk off with one clinging to her front and one to her back; this definitely needed to be photographed. We also saw one leap right up onto the wooden rail that edged the path giving the people walking past a start. Be warned that this closes at 3.30 so don't leave it too late as it would be shame to miss this. It will also be busy at 12.00 when the keepers give a talk.
After seven hours worth of activity on a perfect summers day we were too tired to visit one area of the park where if I remember correctly there are large birds such as vultures and monkeys as well as the train station. I can't believe we missed going on the train, but we did wave to it many times throughout the course of the day as it wound its way around the various areas of the park. It has 4 quite large coaches so appeared to fit lots of people on at any time, but didn't have room for buggies so we would have to have left this behind at the station. It costs £1 per person for a trip around the park.
**Need an icecream**
A day at the zoo wouldn't be complete without an icecream and these along with other drinks and snacks can be brought from the cafe in the main house, a kiosk just outside the walled garden and one near the camels. There were icecream van type soft cornets or assorted lollies and I had a really nice tub of a locally made icecream. I failed to take notice of the prices though as this was Grandpa's treat.
The cafe sells a good selection of food with things like sausage and chips for about £6 and a variety of sandwiches. The menu looked to have a reasonable selection at prices that I would have been happy to have paid had we not have taken a picnic. Tea was £1.30 and coffee £2.00 with fridges of cold drinks with juice cartons and fizzy drinks from a dispenser at £1.50 and also bottles of alcoholic drinks such as cider at £2.80. There appeared to be plenty of seating inside and wooden benches outside which could be used for those eating in the cafe or for picnics. It is an ideal place to take a picnic as there is no shortage of pretty shady spots to sit out on the grass and throughout the park there are benches to stop at.
Toilets: we found these located in the same areas as the food kiosks. The ones I used at the cafe and walled garden were clean and I didn't have to queue despite it being a busy day at the park. They contained baby change facilities. My Dad reported that the mens at the cafe smelt really foul towards the end of the day.
Paths: pathways generally are a compacted sandy coloured material which was quite smooth and easy to push the buggy over. We saw a couple of wheelchairs and a mobility scooter moving around without difficulty. The Young Disabled Unit that I used to work in came for trips here regularly as they found the facilities to be good and as there are no hills at all it is easy to access all areas. Wheelchairs can be loaned from the Manor House.
Shop: on this visit we avoided this at all costs as we didn't think we'd ever get my nephew out again as he loves toy animals and the shop is full of those. The shop is close to the carpark and very large. It also usually has clothing items and other souvenirs such as T towels and ornaments with animal themes.
Playground: I've always liked this playground that sits next to the cafe. My girls were disappointed that the slide that they thought was huge has shrunk and had to be persuaded that they had grown. It was also taped off, presumably because it is metal and it was very hot. There is also one of those old style rocking horses that I used to love and a circular climbing net as well as swings and much more. A carousel ride costs 80p for a very short turn.
The park is open from 10am and all visitors must leave by 6 although most facilities close at 5. Last admission is at 4.30. From October to April it closes at 5 or dusk.
Adults cost £13 and children 3 - 16 and OAPs cost £9
My daughter has a Blue Peter badge and this is one of the places that she was able to get in for free. Unfortunately they do not accept Tesco day out tokens for payment. People who are blind do not have to pay. There doesn't appear to be a family ticket but you can buy season tickets with a family one costing £220.
These prices seem very reasonable for a full day out. Most of the viewing areas are outdoors so I would recommend going on a dry day to make the most of your money.
Address: Bradwell Grove, Burford, Oxfordshire. OX18
More details can be found at http://www.cotswoldwildlifepark.co.uk/in​ ;dex.htm
The Cotswold wildlife Park is not a huge zoo and doesn't have every type of animals, for instance there are no elephants, tigers or bears. However it does have plenty of animals to keep you amused for a full day out and all in picturesque surroundings. The enclosures seem to be a reasonable size and I didn't have any concerns about the welfare of the animals. It is perfect for small children and adults who will also appreciate the surroundings and is also recommended for older people and those with mobility problems as the area to walk is not vast as it is with larger zoos such as Whipsnade. Most age groups from toddler to teen, parents and grandparents were present in our party and we all thoroughly enjoyed our day out here. Despite the weather now being a bit cooler The Cotswold Wildlife Park would make a great day out at any time of year.
This review also appears on Ciao under my same user name, Melissa Ruth.
Summary: A relatively small zoo with a varied selection of animal enclosures set amongst pretty gardens.
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