“ Closed on the 2/9/2002. „
would have been a good day out if the zoo hadnt closed four years ago and been replaced by a housing estate. Best update your web site.
the zoo was demolished 4 years ago to make way for a new housing estsate.
Gatwick Zoo is a small family run attraction sited on 10 acres of grounds with an extremely well sign-posted route, which ensures that you will miss nothing on your way round. THE ANIMALS There are no large animals such as lions or elephants but as most of the animals are smaller and not usually dangerous you are able to get much closer to them and you often feel that you could just reach out and touch them (although this is not necessarily recommended unless you are fed up with having the traditional ten digits! The first creatures seen upon entry are the birds. These range from kookaburras (and one of these let me stroke him through the bars) to storks, strangely foreign pheasants, geese, owls and parrots (more on these later). Next is the reptile house, which is home to various tarantulas, lizards, geckos, snakes and iguanas. This also contains an exhibition on smuggling and endangered species. After leaving the steamy reptile house the next stop is the equally humid butterfly house. The butterflies are not there all year round and first appear around Easter. Unfortunately when I visited it was 2 days before Easter and there were obviously not too many that had erupted from their chrysalises, as I only spotted 3 butterflies (and I am not convinced that 2 of them weren’t the same individual, which had moved location while I was hunting for more of the blighters). You will then wander through the wallaby enclosures. Most of the wallabies seem quite at home sitting basking in the sun but when I was there one had escaped and could be seen bounding from one area to another, although this didn’t seem to concern anyone too much. You will now encounter monkey island. None of the monkeys are very large and they have a large outdoor area to run around in. They are contained by a moat and they seem to delight in entertaining the visitors with madcap behaviour. You now reach the pengui
n area. The enclosure is not very large but it houses only about 6 Humboldt penguins. Feeding time occurred while I was there and it became clear that 2 of the penguins were rather old and decrepit and stood on the shore waiting to be fed rather than swimming for their supper. After the feeding had finished and the keeper had left a large scarlet ibis, which had escaped from the next door enclosure, swooped down to steal the remaining fish from the penguins. Another fugitive from Zoo Law! After walking past some lemurs (from whence I once saw a baby ring tailed lemur escaping through a hole in the wire) and the otter enclosure (which seemed to contain camera shy otters, as I couldn’t spot them) you arrive at the lake, where the ducks and flamingos enjoy themselves. By this point you have done a full circle and have arrived at the entrance once more. When I went recently one of the cockatoos there took rather a shine to me. His name was Cocky and he had a little house to himself, which was in the middle of the picnic area and was not behind bars. He unfortunately had been plucking his feathers (due to boredom or habit) and looked rather sorry for himself. I walked up to him and started talking to him and he clambered down off his perch to investigate me further. He climbed up on to my arm (luckily none of the keepers saw, as I might have been accused of bird napping), and snuggled up against me while I stroked him. I think he was a bit cold without his feathers, as he certainly seemed to like being cuddled. Well, needless to say, I fell in love with him and spent ages stroking him and tickling him under the wing pit, which he loved. If I had had a bag big enough with me, I would have smuggled him out! THE FACILITIES There is a small coffee shop, which sells very reasonably priced food and drinks. As well as snacks such as sandwiches, they also cook lunchtime meals to order. There is also a small kiosk se
lling ice creams, drinks and snacks, which is located at the other side of the zoo but this is open at peak times only. The gift shop is small but one of the cheapest I have seen at this sort of attraction. All the usual gifts, such as fridge magnets, cuddly toys, coasters and bookmarks are there and I purchased a very useful penguin-shaped fridge magnet with an integral thermometer costing only £1.50! There is a reasonably sized play area, which I am glad to say has not become so important that it detracts from the zoo’s exhibits but it is large enough to provide lots of fun and even has its own aerial slide. Fun for big kids too! HOW TO GET THERE Gatwick Zoo is at Rectory Lane, Russ Hill, Charlood. It is signed posted from the A217 at Gatwick and from the A23 near Horley. A 526 bus from Crawley to Horley will take you to its doorstep. OPENING TIMES March to October – 10.30 am to 6.00 pm November to February – 10.30 am to 4.00 pm (Closed Christmas and Boxing Day) GREAT DAY OUT Although the zoo is relatively small, on the whole the animals have large enclosures and can wander about and do as they please. There is plenty to see and lots of benches dotted about, so you can rest your feet and have a longer look at an animal that has taken your fancy. Children can be bundled off to the play area if they get bored but they will also enjoy being able to feed the birds, as the zoo sells special seed for them. This is certainly makes a very enjoyable day and is a great place to take the whole family. Watch out for escapees though!