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A top Zoo Day!
Member Name: magenta23
Advantages: Size, amount to do, price.
Disadvantages: Food on offer, some animals put away for winter.
Getting to Colchester from London is a reasonably painless affair, there are regular trains from Liverpool Street and takes around 45 minutes. From the station things get a little more complicated. The Zoo is a few miles out of the town. Don't make the mistake we made of attempting to do this by bus. It is possible, there are buses from the zoo to the bus station and then from the bus station to the train station, supposedly, but this is a little difficult if you don't really know the area. Easiest thing to do is get a taxi from the station, this cost a rather steep £10 but if there's 3 or 4 of you this on par with the bus fares anyway. Of course, driving is by far the easiest option and it's well signed so I'd reccommend car to public transport on this occasion.
The entrance fees are usually £14.99 for an adult and £9.99 for children and senior citizens. Off peak (oct - Mar) the entrance fee drops by 10%. Also, they now do e-tickets, where you purchase online, which saves you a further 10% and you don't have to queue when you get there as you just print your tickets off at home. I thought this was a brillant system.
The park is open 9.30am to dusk (about 4.30 at the moment). We got there at around 10.30 and stayed until it closed, a few attractions were closed and we just about got around everything there was to see. You really do need a whole day, if not two! There is a huge amount of demonstrations, feedings and shows, more than I've seen at any other zoo, so look it up and plan your day before you get there so you don't miss the events you really want to see.
THE ANIMALS AND ATTRACTIONS
I was really impressed with the zoo in general. The place is huge and there are so many animals to see. I would recommend sticking to the suggested route, however. There is a red line drwn along the ground. If you follow this, you can't go wrong and it will lead you round everything. If you don't the layout of the zoo can be a little confusing and you may end up missing bits out.
The zoo is split up into different zones which group types of animals together and the route takes you from area to area. The zones are as follows-
Beginning Zone - Unsurprisingly, this is the first part of the zoo you come across and features the usual gift shops, reception, customers services etc. Animal wise, there's not a lot in this first section, sloths were supposed to be here but they were asleep inside, and parrots were also one of the attractions put away as it was cold. This was a disappointment as they are usually the highlight of a zoo trip for me!
Aquatic Zone - The aquatic I guess refers to the sealions and penguins which are housed here. In addition to these there are some not so aquatic animals. Iguanas, Meerkats (always a hit), squirrel monkeys and other small mammals are also in this area. They are currently building a brand new area for Orangutans here which is due to open this summer.
Valley Zone - This sections fatures spider monkeys, The magificent White Tiger, Lemurs, Baboons and Lion Rock. We were lucky enough to see the Lion being fed and got a really goos view of them.
Kidz Zone - This area features the 'Familiar Friends' sections which is like a petting zoo. Horses, Sheep, Donkeys, Llamas and goats were all the to stroke and feed.
African Zone - This zone features all the big african animals. Giraffe, Hippo, Zebra, Rhino, Cheetahs and Hyenas. You walk round the enclosures so you can get a good look at all these animals wherever they are hiding!
Lakeland Zone - Flamingos, Seals and waterfowl all set in a lake setting. Areas for picnicing here, which would be great in summer.
The Heights - Some real favourites here- Tigers, Hunting Dogs, Komodo Dragons, Red Panda, Chimpanzees and Crocodiles.
There are many places to picnic here, which if the weather is warm enough, is what I suggest you do if you are planning a visit. Off peak, all of the food outlets were at the beginning of the zoo, so by the time you got halfway round and fancied stopping for some food, there wasn't anywhere until you were nearly back. The food isn't that badly priced compared to some zoos and attractions but there wasn't a lot to choose from. Chicken and chips, burgers, fry ups in the restaurant. Not very much for any one wanting the healthy option. I understand a zoo's priority is the animals and rightly so, but I feel there could be a little more choice for the visitor, get rid of one of the greasy hot dog stalls and put in a sandwich bar I thik would be a good move.
Overall, Colchester Zoo is a great day out. The staff here do a brilliant job not only to keep the animals but the public entertained. It was a cold day when we visited but there were keepers in with a lot of the animals, playing with them or feeding them, so the visitors could get a good look at the animals which would probably other wise have been curled up asleep on such a cold day. We saw most of the animals well, and some incredibly well. A much more successful day out then I expected. I don't agree with a lot of people opinions of zoos, all these animals seemed happy and playful. There enclosures were full of enrichment for them and adequately big enough. The zoo is striving to improve them further, with the new Orangutan enclosure and with amount of new baby signs up on the animals enclosures there breeding scheme seems to be booming. Definately a zoo who's priorities are conservation and happy animals. This in turn makes a great show for the public, as seeing the animals playing and running around is so much more entertaining than any tricks or performances. A perfect example was the spider monkeys, in fact I stood there wishing I was a spider monkey they looked like they were having that much fun!
A zoo not to be missed.
Summary: A brilliant day out
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