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Edinburgh Zoo - Quite possibly the best day of my life
Member Name: QueenM
*This review is based on my personal experience at the zoo and will not just be a list of animals that they show. I'll be talking about my favourite parts and bits that I wasn't too keen on, if you want a list of animals then it is easily accessed on the Edinburgh Zoo website - www.edinburghzoo.org.uk *
My boyfriend and I have a bit of a tradition where we take the other away for the weekend for their birthday instead of buying a gift. We're much more into experiences and memories than gifts anyway, so it's always something that we look forward to. This year, he decided to take me to Edinburgh for the weekend (back in February). He decided on Edinburgh because they are famous for the zoo and he knew I'd never been to a zoo before, but had always wanted to go to one. He booked our tickets and time slot for the Giant Pandas and then before we knew it, Saturday February 18th had arrived and it was time to set off for the zoo!
The zoo couldn't have been easier to find, our hotel was on Princes Street in the centre of Edinburgh and only a short 2 minute walk to the bus stop near Waverley Station. After waiting a minute or two for the bus, we hopped on and informed the driver that we weren't sure where we were going. He pointed out that buses in Edinburgh have screens with all the upcoming stops and how long it should take to get to them, so we seated ourselves infront of it and 10 minutes later, we were at our stop!
The Zoo currently has many banners outside that are covered in pictures of the Giant Pandas. These are obviously a new, very exciting edition to the zoo and I'll admit that I squealed like a little piggy when I saw them!
We walked up the 15-20 stairs into the ticket hall/gift shop and handed over our ticket printouts. The scanned us in, handed us a map and told us that we would have to be at the panda enclosure 20 minutes before our allotted time because there would still be a large queue to wait in.
We had a quick look at the map and decided on heading right first and just making our way round the zoo, ending at the panda enclosure roughly an hour and a half later.
To start off with, it seemed like my excitement was a bit overdone and it was going to be a slow day. We came to a sea lion, some flamingos and a lemur enclosure that all seemed a bit dull. As beautiful as the animals were, they didn't seem to be doing much while the child inside of me was crying out for them to play and jump around! I was actually saddened by one of the lemurs in particular, it was kept alone in a darkened hutch. It was one of the cutest little things I'd ever seen and after paying him some love and attention (through the glass, mind you), he became a bit more active and we got some great photos. We had a good laugh at the little guy and then decided to move on up the trail. Don't skip out on the solo animals though, they just need a bit of love!
We then came to one of our favourite enclosures, the Gibbons. I had no idea what a Gibbon was and just thought they were monkeys, but they were the most hilarious, endearing things I've ever seen. There must have been around 20-30 of them all kept in the humungous cage enclosure decorated with ropes and trees for them to play and swing on. Luckily, we had a beautiful day of sunshine so looking up at the Gibbons swinging around was made even more pleasant. They are fast little animals that throw themselves around without a care in the world and I highly recommend paying them a visit.
It was then that we went through the Chimpanzee trail, it included a little education centre that you could walk through and learn about the species, but it was more aimed towards children so after reading a few plaques, we headed upstairs to get the best view of the chimps. Unfortunately, we just got a glimpse of all their bums because they were all resting on their platforms, but they were lovely to see nonetheless!
After leaving the chimp trail we realised that we were just in time for the penguin parade, so we hotfooted it over to the penguin enclosure just in time to get a good spot for viewing the parade. The zoo keeper that was narating the parade informed everyone that it was complete voluntary and they couldn't control how many, if any penguins would come out for the parade. Luckily there was one teeny tiny little penguin that wanted to do the parade on the day we were there, so we got to be up close and personal with a penguin! The particular type of penguin he was was only around 1ft high and had some beautiful orange and yellow markings on his face. As I was standing right at the front of the crowd, the little penguin came toddling right up to my feet and I managed to get a perfect photo of him, just as if he was posing for me!
After the little parade we carried on back to the trail we were following, stopping at every enclosure on the way. It was at the capuchin monkey enclosure that I thought I was going to internally combust. These beautiful little monkeys were so incredibly playful and loving towards one another that I just couldn't cope! There were 3 in particular that stood out, we assume it was the mummy, daddy and baby monkey, but maybe it could've been auntie monkey and brother monkey? Whoever they were, they were doing everything for the sweet little baby monkey who was being a bit of a cheeky devil! The bigger monkeys were running off to get food for the baby and then coming back and giving him a piggy back to get him to another part of the enclosure. It was so sweet to watch! I never wanted to leave that bit.
I was very excited about seeing the Koala bears too, unfortunately one of them was out for feeding when we arrived at their enclosure, but just as we were leaving, they brought him back in and we got to him toddling about the trees wiggling his cute little bum!
After climbing a huge hill, we came to the big cats and zebras etc. I can't say I was too excited about these as I have a phobia of Zebras and the big cats had enclosures so big that you could barely see them! This is obviously a good thing for the animals wellbeing, but I was little bit miffed that I couldn't see the lion.
The top of the hill (and by hill, I mean the mountain that the zoo is situated on!) had some toilets and a cattle enclosure. We stopped at the toilets for a widdle, took some photos of the view over Edinburgh and then made our way back down the tremendous hill. I'd be lying if I said my legs weren't sore. I had no idea that the zoo was on such a hill and considering I have problems with the anatomy of my feet and walking downhill, this was going to be quite troublesome!
We realised at this point that we were cutting it fine for getting to our panda time slot, so we just headed straight there, having a quick look at each animal on the way.
After arriving at the Giant Panda enclosure exit, a kind zoo keeper pointed us in the right direction where we queued for roughly 15 minutes. The panda enclosure is directly underneath the penguin enclosure, so we still got to see all the penguins swimming underwater and giving us a bit of a show while we waited. There were also zoo keepers giving brief talks on the pandas which helped pass the time too.
After scanning our panda tickets again, we were granted access into the panda enclosure along with around 30 other people. Our group was assigned a lovely zoo keeper who took us into the indoor enclosure and gave us a long talk on the pandas while we all "oohed," "aahed" and took plenty of photos. The flash must be turned off when taking photos of the pandas due to their sensitivity, and we were surprised to find that they are actually in two separate enclosure across from one another. We then found out that they are actually solitary animals so they would only be together when Tian Tian (the female) was fertile, which is only 36 hours out of the year! They perform a urine test on her every morning to check her fertility.
After seeing Yang Guang (the male) playing with his bamboo and rolling around the floor, we were shown outside to their outdoor enclosures. This time, the outdoor enclosures are next door to one another, separated by a wall which has a tiny metal fence in it that they can go up to if they want to interact.
It was here that we were told how the male pandas show their manliness and sexiness if you will. They get on their front paws, do a handstand and pee as high into the air as they can. The higher the pee, the sexier the panda!
We were allowed to spend around 25 minutes in the panda enclosures, looking at them and learning all about them before being moved on to let the next group in. We then decided that after taking some photos of the penguins we would just head back to the gift shop and get some souvenirs and a bit of warmth - as beautiful and sunny as it was, it was incredibly cold!
We purchased a few keyrings and magnets then left the premises just before closing time, very happy with the day we'd just had. We were both like children on the bus back into the city centre, giggling and smiling at our photos of the animals and remembering all the silly little things they did!
I highly recommend a visit to the zoo if you've never been before, or even if you have! Just be aware that it is on a steep hill and people with walking issues may not be comfortable with this. I give the zoo 5 stars as it was a great day out, even for us at 19 and 20 years old. I did feel a little bit sad for some of the animals in the smaller enclosures, but overall I had an amazing time and was kept all giddy and excited by the playful little buggers!
My boyfriend paid £15.50 each for our tickets, which included a time slot to see the pandas. This was great value for money in my opinion as all of the money goes towards upkeep of the zoo and the animals. Children of 3-15 years old are £11 for entry whilst under 3s are free! There is a concession ticket for £13 too.
You're able to buy family tickets and discounted group tickets, but this information is all available on the website given previously.
I also found out that there are zoo keeper experience days to be had at the zoo, we didn't do any of these but I would absolutely love to do one in future! Maybe for my next birthday :).
Thanks for reading!
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