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Wild, in a reserved sort of way
The Wildlife Park (Cricket St. Thomas, Somerset)
Member Name: jasminesarah
The Wildlife Park (Cricket St. Thomas, Somerset)
Advantages: Good value for money, respectful attitude to animals
Disadvantages: Not much is indoors so go on a dry day
My wildlife-worshipping son opted for a day at Cricket St Thomas Wildlife park for his 9th birthday, in July this year. It was our 3rd visit, so we knew what to expect. Cricket St Thomas is near Chard and not particularly convenient to get to by public transport (not recommended), but was a pleasant hour's car journey for us, traveling from Exeter.
As I am not keen on the ball pool and screaming variety of children's entertainment, I feel very lucky to have a child who feels the same way. At Cricket St Thomas the emphasis is on the animals, in a lush green setting, and not on all singing all dancing entertainment. An added advantage is that currently the Park accepts Tesco Deals vouchers (although the £1 each fare for the miniature train has to be paid in cash). Peak prices are £8.75 for adults and £6.50 for children this year, but this drops outside school holidays. Using Tesco points made this a bargain day out!
The Park is set out in such a way that a circular route can be taken through it, it doesn't matter which way you head once you get there. We tend to set off in the direction of the Lemur Wood, but not enter it (wanting to save the best for last) - instead we look at the caged animals nearby and then catch the miniature train to the other end of the Park. On the train there is a voice over tape providing information on the animals that can be seen in the fields around the river, including deer and wallabys.
Once at Flamingo Junction, it is a short walk to the Black Swan pub, an ideal place to stop for either a picnic or a meal, whilst entertained by the prairie dogs and monkeys nearby. (This is one of the things I really like about this Park, it has a proper pub, the sort of place you might go for lunch if you were in the 'real world'. Why do most theme parks assume that completely normal people suddenly want to sit on plastic chairs in a noisy canteen just because they are visiting a park with children? Maybe it is just me, but I don't like the Macdonalds style of catering!)
After lunch, there is a gentle walk back to where you started, taking in the grounds of the adjacent hotel, as well as animals such as camels, ostriches, more monkeys and a leopard. I'm not giving too much info on all the animals, mostly as I don't want to spoil it for those who like to be surprised! For those who don't, there is lots more informaton on the website: www.cstwp.co.uk
Finally, the jewel in the crown, at least for us - the lemurs. Cricket St Thomas has four different types of lemurs, in a wood dedicated to them. The ring tailed are by far the friendliest, with the others being harder (sometimes impossible) to spot. On our first visit we crept reverently into the wood (it is enclosed) , whispering to each other our hopes of glimpsing a lemur. We were then confronted by a family of ring tailed lemurs who leapt from the trees and cavorted on the railings next to us, unashamedly posing for photographs! They are clearly not worried by their human visitors, however signs outside the wood warn that lemurs have no defense against human illnesses and could die if they pick up our germs. Signs inside warn visitors not to touch or feed them. Sadly, we saw several people ignoring this, which really upset my sensitive son as he became very worried for their safety! To be fair, it was difficult to avoid being touched by the ring tailed lemurs, and took enormous restraint not to grab one and cuddle it (they are so adorable looking!) but if they are really at risk perhaps the area should be attended by staff.
We consoled ourselves later in the shop, with the purchase of one of a wide range of good quality cuddly lemurs.
The lemurs and several other animals have feeding times and talks, and there are guided tours of the park on offer too. This is a place you can spend several hours very easily and I would recommend it to anyone who would appreciate the animals in a relaxed setting and doesn't need to be entertained by bells and whistles.
Summary: A lovely day out
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