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Chester Zoo-brilliant day out!
Member Name: rlaverty
Advantages: Massive amounts of animals, educational, fun, varied
Disadvantages: The rubbish food in the Ark Restaurant- overpriced for disgusting food.
I was taken to Chester Zoo this year, by my boyfriend, for my 27th birthday- testament if ever there was one that this is an attraction suitable for both children and adults alike!
It was mid-week when we went, and the zoo was relatively quiet, although there were several school groups and of course still plenty of familys about. I put the quietness down to the fact that England were playing a World Cup game that afternoon....
At the time of visiting admission was £15.95 per adult (£10.95 for a child)- this was during "mid season". Prices go up to a maximum of £16.90 per adult and £12.45 per child during high season- which is basically during school holidays! Family tickets (2 adults & 2 children) are available for between £41.50- £55.00 depending on the season.
Getting there is very easy by car- the zoo is clearly signposted with the brown tourist attraction signs and there is plenty of parking on site. I don't have experience of getting there by public transport myself, but I am led to believe it's relatively easy via a normal bus service or by using a special zoo shuttle bus from the city centre/railway station.
The Zoo is apparently the size of 50 football pitches! It has various places dotted around for buying food & drinks- including icecreams- essential on a hot day! There are picnic areas around the zoo too, perfect for if you bring your own packed lunch! There is a monorail which goes around the zoo, as well as a boat ride, (both £2 per adult and £1.50 for kids) both of which can cut down on the amount of walking required, which I'd imagine is quite appealing for little legs!
There are various different talks given throughout the day (vary from day to day) specifically about certain animals. There are also opportunities to see the animals at feeding time. There are no animals that can be petted or touched at the zoo- something to bear in mind for some children (and adults, like me!) who like that sort of thing. You are also heavily discouraged from feeding the animals- there are signs up saying anyone doing so will be asked to leave the zoo!
We arrived at the zoo about midday and proceeded directly to the elephants. They're located right near the entrance, and although they weren't in their outside enclosure on the day we visited, it was still a brilliant way to start the visit! I know it sounds a bit daft, but you don't really realise what spectacular- and huge- creatures they are until there's one a couple of meters in front of you!
We then made our way to the giant otters - a new attraction this year- via some warty hogs, regular sized otters, chimpanzees, apes, and flamingos! I loved the giant otters- although a lady in the gift shop pointed out that they're more extra large otters than giant otters! Nonetheless, I loved watching them swimming and eating.
We then stopped for lunch at the Ark Restaurant. We had some rather disgusting burgers and chips. Weird tasting chips which we covered in salt to (try to) disguise the flavour- not recommended!
After our sad excuse for a lunch we looked for Lions, and only found one, who was having a nap, ignoring her rapturous audience! We then proceeded to the bat cave- which was brilliant and not for those of a nervous disposition, if the thought of bats skimming your head freaks you out! The Spectacled Bears were obviously busy the day we were there as they were conspicuous by their absence. We then visited the rhino enclosure and got to see one relatively close up who was peering at us through a hedge! Got a couple of good pics of him before moving on to the merekats. I will now confess to getting all squeaky and over the top at the sight of a merekitten- i don't know if that's what they're really called, but it seems appropriate- they were incredibly tiny and cute, and it felt like a priviledge to see the babies up close with their mamas!
We had a sit down and a drink in Cafe Tsavo before leaving- and the food here looks ten times better than where we ate a couple of hours previous!! We stopped by the shop before going and I picked up a cuddly otter toy which I couldn't resist buying!
Chester Zoo really is a day out for people of any age. It is a lot of walking admittedly, but if you get there early, you can take your time, make plenty of stops and enjoy all the animals. I can't imagine it would be much fun in the rain, or general bad weather, although they do make a point of being able to enjoy it in the wet weather still- and offer planned walks which keep you in the dry as much as possible. Although I'd just advise waiting for some good weather if possible as I think it's quite a lot of money to spend to not make the most of all that's on offer. It is expensive, but if you make the most of it, you'll get value for money.
Summary: Brilliant day out for all ages, but perhaps consider bringing a packed lunch!
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