“ Wickford Road / South Woodham Ferrers / Essex / CM3 5QZ / Tel.: 01245 425394 / Fax: 01245 425394. „
Our family have grown up as this wonderful place did. Starting as a private collection, that the children were allowed to look at -it slowly expanded and improved to add many more different types of animals to the grounds and developed more areas as it did, so every animal has space. We are now bringing the Grandchildren. We think it caters for everyone from a babe to an oldie (that's getting to be us now!) We love the fact you can actually get so close to the animals-such a privilege and on a wet Winter's day -who needs the Tropics-the butterfly house is so nice we would like to stay! Not only is it great- for learning about nature but it is FUN! We would also like to say it has such a nice friendly atmosphere and the shop allows a gift to go home, no matter if you only have pence not pounds to spend. The cafe is large enough to cater for many and the outside tables are great in the better weather . Unless you prefer to picnic on the grass. Importantly there are lots of hand cleaning places and the toilets have always been spotless, whenever we have used them, which can't always be said of some zoos!! The indoor play centre with tables and coffee machine is great and offers a well deserved parking spot for adults ,whilst any extra energy children have, can happily and safely be spent bouncing and sliding. The only one hic-cup is- there was no toilet in this area, so if on your own with children, you had to take all with you and head back to the toilets in the main area or by the cafe-however with the new improvements that are constantly happening, this, we are sure will soon be dealt with. All that remains is to say the reason we came to log in- was to look how we could buy a family seasonal pass, as an Easter gift and couldn't resist telling you -just what we think of your place!! Hope to see you in the next few days as the children break up -although we often come at the week-end too, as an escape from hustle.
I was visiting some friends in London over the weekend, and we decided to try to find a relatively local attraction that wouldn't require us to head into central London (always expensive and stressful, and we'd seen most of it before!). A quick internet search turned up Tropical Wings. The website was not massively promising, but it was fairly closeby so we decided to give it a try. It was easy to find by car, and although the outside looked a little unkempt we were extremely impressed by the experience. It costs £7.75 for an adult ticket (£4.75 for a child), which I think is remarkably cheap considering the zoo is unexpectedly large. If we had gone into London, we would have spend almost that much on transport alone. The first main area of the zoo is the butterfly house, supposedly one of the largest in the country. It is beautiful and well kept, and the butterflies are healthy and active. They are also relatively used to the presence of humans so they are easy to observe and photograph. One of my friends commented that this area alone was worth the entry fee. There are also small birds, koi carp and iguanas here. On exiting this room (enjoy the feeling of the cool air hitting you as you leave this tropical heated area!) you will find yourself in the main part of the zoo. There are a surprisingly large amount of birds of different species here, many of which have learnt to talk or laugh from contact with passers-by. There are also some large tortoises, lemurs and marmosets. Further into the zoo there are birds of prey, goats, meerkats, otters, rabbits, guinea pigs, degus and chipmunks. There is also a remarkable large area in which wallabies roam free and can be stroked. One drawback of having so much in such a small area (although I must say that all the animals have more than enough space, which is wonderful) is that it is very easy to miss things. There is no one prescribed path around the grounds, so you can find yourself having walked in a circle, or missing out on seeing a few animals by missing a particular path. At the time when we visited, the car park was very full, but they have substantial overflow facilities. The zoo itself was not overcrowded, but the presence of so many children was somewhat annoying. Having said that, this is a great place to take well-behaved children to learn about animals and see some beautiful examples. The zoo does have a tea-room (we did not sample this; it didn't look particularly inviting and I would rarely eat at a place like this anyway as they are generally overpriced and poor) and adequate toilet facilities. There is also a small zoo shop as well as a farm shop next door where local produce can be bought. I fully intend to visit Tropical Wings again (though probably during school hours to avoid the crowds!). It is a beautiful, well kept little zoo that provided far more than I expected for a very reasonable price. For a 'small' zoo there is a lot to see, and I would recommend it to anyone with a love of animals or with (well-behaved!) children.
Tropical Wings is a small zoo/butterfly house and is in South Woodham Ferrers, Essex. I visited for about the third time earlier today. It is near Southend and Chelmsford and the website has directions about how to get there from these places. We visited and found that it was very busy and had to go in the overflow car park, most of the visitors were elderly or families with children. It was very busy but I suppose it was because it was in the summer holiday. At the entrance is the gift shop which sells various bits and bobs but nothing particularly great. There is a desk where you pay admission fees which are £7.75 for adults and £4.75 for children and family tickets are also available at a discounted price. The first thing in Tropical Wings is the Tropical House which is one of the largest butterfly houses in the UK. It is very hot in there so I would not wear a sweater! The house has many beautiful butterflies and also lots of interesting tropical plants. In the tropical house there is a big pond with some massive (the biggest fish I have seen.) koi carp which can you feed for 30p a bag. Also in the house were a couple of large iguanas, tortoises and some birds that were not parrots that could speak! Other great parts to visit were the Savannah Plains which is home to 3 enormous sulcata tortoises which are the third largest type of tortoise. The reptile house has tanks with more tortoises, lizards and some cocoons which were all very interesting to look at. Around Tropical Wings there are many birds including parrots, owls, vultures, lovebirds, kookaburras, macaws and many others. Also here are many farm animals such as goats, guinea pigs, a few loose chickens, a donkey, ponies, rabbits. Another great thing to visit was the wallaby paddock which was very large and you could touch the wallabies and each day there is "help feed the wallabies". Most of the wallabies were albino but there were some of other colours. Other animals included marmosets which were very cute, otters, meerkats, lemurs and even chipmunks amongst others! Around the park there are also lots of picnic areas and there is also a cafe where we had jacket potatoes which tasted quite nice. There were also various attractions for children including a play area inside, agility course style play area outside which had a couple of swings and logs and ropes to balance across. Also there was digger land where you pay a £1 to go on a little digger. Among all this there were lots of information about the animals including where they come from, how rare the animals were and other interesting facts. Overall I found it very enjoyable and I would recommend it to families and elderly people. There are lots of animals and other interesting things but it does not fill up a whole day! The time we spent there was great however and children would also enjoy looking at the various animals especially the large tortoises, talking birds and butterflies while also having a nice free open space with a play area. It is educational and fun which has to be good! A very nice way to spend a morning or afternoon if you live nearby. 5/5 Recommended for a nice half day out!
Tropical Wings (World of Wildlife) is a small zoo which is situated in South Woodham Ferrers, Essex. My first visit was very recently (June 2009) and I'm certain it won't be my last visit. Tropical Wings can be found off the A130 and is signed up when you get within a mile or two. When we reached the entrance I was totally unsure if we were at the right place. It all looked very small and strange, I thought it was actually a shop. In my opinion the entrance from the road should be made more obvious. There were a couple of car parking spaces at the front (but not many at all) which were all full and a main carpark further on down a small dirt track which were all full too. Luckilly there was an overflow carpark leading on from the main carpark and there were plenty of spaces in there. The carpark is a cross between a gravel carpark and a field, which means it is abit bumpy and could get muddy in bad weather. All car parking spaces are near to the main entrance. We visited on a weekday, during the early afternoon. My reasoning behind this was that it would be empty as the kids were all at school but to my suprise the park was full of visitors (I wouldn't say 'packed'). The majority of visitors seemed to be mums with young children and eldery people. Next to the main entrance is a cafe called 'The Butterfly Cafe'. There is no admission fee to use the cafe and it is open to everyone. The cafe has indoor and outdoor seating and is decorated very traditional and quite homely - nothing fancy but nice enough. The cafe serves hot, cold and freshly baked food aswell as hot and cold drinks. We never ate at the cafe but got a drink and the lady that served us was very nice indeed. The cafe is open every day from 9.00am. At the main entrance there is a gift shop, although this is best to visit after you have been around the park. There is a desk where you pay for your admission - you can pay by cash or card. I thought the admission prices for adults were very reasonable, just £7.75 each. Admission prices for children were £4.75 but started at 2 years of age which is ridiculous as children of 2 years will enjoy themselves but it's too young for them to remember - I say up the age to 4 years. Once you have paid you are given a wristband to put on yourself (this allows you to come and go as you please) and a list of shows, talks and feeding times. The first thing you come to is 'The Tropical House' which is home to a huge selection of different butterflies. It is one of the UK's largest butterfly houses. The butterflies fly freely so you need to enter (and exit) 2 sets of doors to ensure they do not escape. The first thing I noticed was how hot it was in there, it was very humid and we were all very sweaty before long. However we did visit on an extremley hot day so I expect it was even hotter and more humid than usual. The house is full of lovely plants and flowers and has food tables of fruit scattered around which attracts the butterflies to them. It's lovely to watch the butterflies fluttering around and very interesting to look at them close up whilst they sit on nearby plants etc. I must admit I was freaking out before going into the butterfly house (I hate the way they flutter around your face) but was pleasantly suprised about how much I enjoyed it and how calm I was. None of them landed on me but they got very close. Butterflies which are commonly spotted in the tropical house are the zebra butterfly, postman butterfly, scarlet swallowtail, owl butterfly, great mormon, tree nympth butterfly, glasswing butterfly, clipper, chocolate pansy and the blue morpho butterfly. The less common butterflies include the grey pansy, common mormon, lacewing, great egg fly, zebra longwing, blue peacock, bamboo butterfly and the blue and white longwing. There is a path which leads you around the tropical house and a big pond in the middle with a bridge over the top. The pond is home to around 20 huge, colourful koi carp - you can purchase fish food for a mere 30p a bag at the entrance. It was the best 30p I have ever spent because my daughter absolutley loved feeding them, I don't think shes ever seen such big fish and found it very funny when they splashed her. The tropical house also housed a couple of large iguanas and 2 java hill mynahs. I had never seen or heard of these birds before and was absolutely stunned. They look like little blackbirds but with yellow beaks and can talk. It turns out that some say they can talk even better than African grey parrots. One of the birds had a good long chat with us which included the phrases "hello", "woowww", "yo" and a selection of robot noises! At one end of the tropical house is a door which leads you into a room called the 'reptile house' which has tanks and bigger enclosures of snakes, cockroaches, lizards and tortoises. Something which I found particularly interesting here were the cacoons - there were rows of cacoons, some of them in the process of hatching. They were all different colours, sizes and many of them looked very well camoflaged. At the far end of the tropical house is another door which leads outside where there are a number of different animals (mainly birds) to see, aswell as lots of lovely plants and flowers. A little path leads you around their enclosures but the path leads off in so many different directions that it becomes a little confusing. There are so many little nooks and crannies to explore that you'll probably end up missing something but it doesn't really matter because you have to come back the way you come to exit the park. There are signposts and maps scattered around which are helpful. Birds that can be found here include parrots, mcaws, black vultures, owls, kookaburras, corellas, lovebirds, lorikeets, touracos, and cockatoos. It's never nice to see birds in cages but I was pleased to see that the enclosures were all quite large and well enriched. All of the enclosures have the name of the species, the name of the bird and some facts about the bird which are really interesting to read. I also noticed that if you call the birds by name (eg. Harry, Sara) they respond to it. Some of the birds I called instantly stopped what they were doing and flew over to press themselves up against the cage! They say you shouldn't touch the birds but I got a few cuddles in! I expect they thought I was a keeper... Two things which you can't miss are 'Savannah Plaines' and 'Lemur Lawn'. Savannah Plaines is a big grassy enclosure and home to 3 sulcata tortoises. These tortoises originate from North Africa, can live for upto 200 years, can weigh over 200lb and are huge. They were all inside when we visited but there was an indoor viewing area for us to get a good look at them. There was also a big wooden deck area in the middle of the enclosure where a lovely little (well quite big actually) cockatoo sat. Lemur Lawn was an enclosure of funny looking little ring-tailed lemurs. My daughter loved seeing these as she loves the film 'Madagascar' and rather than Lemurs she refers to them as 'move it move its' - the song that the lemurs sing in the film! There is a tiny little bridge which takes you to the next section of the park. By the bridge is a little area where I think they do a birds of prey talk, although I'm not certain. Next to this area was a number of rather small enclosures which were holding birds of prey (hawks etc) - I'm not sure if the enclosures were temporary or permanant housing... I'd like to think temporary, I think they must have been...? The next part of the park has a lovely wooden walk through tunnel with pink roses decorating it. There is a large grassy area which is fenced off and has benches infront of it - this is where bird shows and talks take place, it's called 'the main arena'. We missed the majority of the bird show but caught the end in which the man was showing a raven off. He gave us facts about the bird and was throwing food for it to catch. The raven was flying around in the sky whilst the keeper was talking and just coming back when it felt like it (or when it spotted some food!). Shame we didn't catch the whole thing really. There are alot of picnic areas here which are great if you visit on a nice day, there are also some other picnic areas in other parts of the park. There are also toilets and baby changing facilities here. As I already mentioned it was really hot when we visited so we were really desperate for a drink - there was a little snack shack but to our disappointment it was closed, I expect it is open on weekends and school holidays. Birds in this area includes owls, vultures, a stork, kuckaburruhs and a raven. There were also 2 little pigs, unbelievably one of them used to live in a flat with a cat and a dog! There is also a small indoor area which is home to degus and the cutest little polecat I have ever seen - I would have popped him into my pocket if he wasn't behind glass! It was called a marbled polecat and had a beautiful coat. There was an outdoor play area for young children which had a wooden wendy house, plastic wendy house, 2 swings, 2 bouncers, a netted roundabout and a big raised platform which included wobbly bridges, steps, ladders, a pole and slide. There was also an outdoor play area for older children next to it which was actually more of an obstacle course full of bridges, logs and ropes aswell as a couple of swings. Behind the play area are little tractors which can be driven at £1.00 a turn. There are also coin operated rides located throughout the park. The next part of the park was the farmyard. I thought we would be strolling amongst the animals as there was a metal gate which you had to bolt shut after entering. Infact you couldn't stroll amongst the animals but there were a few loose chickens walking about. Animals in the farmyard include goats, guinea pigs, ponies, donkies and rabbits. There was an enclosure called 'sandy hollow' which was home to a number of meerkats. They were lots of fun to watch and there were even some babies in the group. One of the meerkats stood on top of a little wooden house to watch out for danger... someone should really inform them that they live in a zoo and zoos are pretty safe! There were 2 metal gates situated by the pony and donkey enclosure and these led into the wallaby paddock, probably my most favourite part of the park. We had the whole paddock to ourselves which felt really special. The wallaby paddock was really quite large and had a path which led all the way round. You could walk freely among the wallabies and could get really close to them - they didn't seemed phased by us being there at all. Once a day the park do 'help feed the wallabies' which sadly we missed. The majority of the wallabies were a browny colour (Bennett's wallabies) but there were a couple of gorgeous albino wallabies which were just fascinating. Some of the wallabies also had joeys in their pouches - my daughter couldn't believe it when a little joey popped his head of the pouch and had a little nibble on the grass! The wallaby paddock wasn't just home to wallabies but was also home to a number of Mara. Maras are funny looking creatures and remind me of oversized guinea pigs (they are infact related to guinea pigs). They come from South America and are quite timid. There were also a couple of chickens strolling around in the paddock. You can take the path round in a big circle or you can leave the paddock by gates at the back of the enclosure, which is what we did. Here you will find a mirky looking pond which is used for school trips and a butterfly garden which has lots of feeding tables and flowers to attract wild butterflies and birds. There was a big otter enclosure here too but to our disappointment all of the otters were asleep, they popped their heads up every now and again but that was it. That was the end of the park and we made our way back the way we had already come (and saw some things that we had missed the first time round) to find the exit. The park was covered in animal facts and had lots of learning areas, for school trips I assume. I could imagine this being a great place for school trips and is a great way of getting children into wildlife and animals. Overall we had a brilliant few hours at Tropical Wings and will definitely be returning. It was a beautiful, hot and sunny day when we visited and I think this definitely added to it - I'm not quite sure if I would have had quite as much fun if it was bad weather though as the majority of the park is open aired, although there were plenty of undercover areas for shelter. Tropical Wings is quite small but manages to cram alot in without it being chaotic and a mess. I found it to be really quite basic and nothing too fancy but I think this added charm to the place - I can't quite imagine it being the same if it were all built up and really modern. Tropical Wings is open every day - in summer from 9.30am - 5.30pm and in winter from 10.00am - 4.30. Last admissions are an hour and a half before the park closes. Individual daytime ticket prices are as follows: Adults - £7.72, children (2-15) - £4.75, seniors - £6.75, special needs adult - £5.25, special needs child - £3.95. Family tickets, group tickets and annual passes are also available. Check out the website for more details: www.tropicalwings.co.uk I recommend Tropical Wings to everybody, especially to those with children (the elderly people that we saw also seemed to really like the place). I would also pick a nice sunny day to visit but wouldn't travel too far to visit as it is quite small and won't take up a whole day.
My son loved his school visit here and has pestered ever since to go back. This is a kind of mini zoo located in Essex near South Woodham Ferrers off the A132. As long as you get to the vicinity you will find brown direction signs with a butterfly symbol on it to get you to the precise location. It is a wonderful day out for all the family. I dont know if it was the time of year (September), the day of the week (Saturday) or the time of day (morning), but it wasnt very crowded so that enhanced the enjoyment of the experience for all. On arrival, we made the first important observation of the sign indicating that parking for Tropical Wings is at the back and not the front by a farm shop. There was a large car park and an overflow area as well with many spaces available for the disabled right in front of the entrance. We walked the short distance to the entrance, leaving our picnic bags behind as when you pay to go in you are given a wristband, which allows unlimited free re-entry for the rest of the day. So at lunchtime it was an easy matter to return to the car to collect our picnic. The gift shop and Butterfly Tea Rooms and patio are located before the entrance so it is possible to use these facilities without paying the entrance fee. This, for our family of 4, was £17.00. This block payment was a small saving on the individual prices. We were given a useful and clear map of the site and a programme of events. This important little leaflet gave the times and locations of interactive animal encounters and their map location. For the time being keep hold of it and I shall come to it a little later on. The first enclosure you come to, and the main reason for our coming, is the Tropical House. It is, apparently, one of the largest Butterfly Houses in the country. Having gone through a sort of airlock system, (to prevent butterflies escaping), you enter a kind of mini rain forest. It was so humid that my spouse and young children did not wish to stay very long. I found that you got used to it after a little while and sight of these large and colourful butterflies free flying around you was a wonder to behold. The largest, as big as my hand, was called an Owl butterfly but there were many others such as the appropriately named Zebra butterfly. Can you guess why? The butterflies ate fruit so fruit tables had been set out next to seats so you could watch very close up in comfort. If you stayed still for just a short length of time, a butterfly would land on you. I think it may have helped that I was wearing green! It was a bit of a surprise to find some small birds also flying free but they didnt bother you. In the centre there was pond full of koi. Lots of different colours but their distinctive feature were their size they were huge! There was a dispenser where you could buy food for them but it seemed so inadequate for their appetites that this extra expenditure didnt seem worth it. However, this was the only opportunity to feed any animal. In some side cages were also some big lizards but since they didnt move, the children werent very interested. When you came out the other side, the contrast in the temperature made it seem very cold outside. But this soon passed and we headed for our first interactive event. We underestimated the length of time to reach Pets Corner for Bunny Breakfast and were initially locked out. Fortunately, the rabbits were not considered great escape artists and we were allowed into the enclosure. The keepers brought various rabbits out of their hutches to be petted by the children (and adults if you wanted). One was really big and fluffy. The keepers protected the animals from the kids by maintaining control, keeping them spread out and showing them the appropriate way to stroke. Afterwards, they clearly pointed out the cleaning dispenser that is recommended to all those who touch the animals. This was an alcoholic gel, which was much less hassle and quicker to use than soap and water. As we were late for this first encounter, we made a point of being on time for the second. This was Big Bugs & Beasties in the Discovery Kingdom, a kind of exhibition hall back near the entrance. For this one it was imperative to be on time as they did lock the door and prevent any latecomers coming in. This was because the keeper had small creatures that could potentially escape. He showed us some large stick insects and we got to stroke a millipede and cockroaches. The talk was interesting and informative and he made sure everyone got the opportunity to touch even if they werent in the front row. The next encounter was called Lets Get Ratty in the Wise Owl Barn. We mistook this to mean an encounter with owls. However, we should have paid more attention to the name rather than the location. Again, it was vital to be there on time, as the door was locked to prevent any animal escapes. There were some disappointed children looking in after they arrived too late. However, for my spouse it also meant there was no way for her to escape when the full realisation of what was about to happen was realised. Two rats were brought out for us to stroke. My children and I didnt have a problem with this but my partner moved to the corner and was safe relatively. When the rats were removed and chipmunks brought out the anxiety passed. The chipmunks were fast moving, lively and fun. The next encounter was with the centres new arrivals: the otters. This was not hands-on and not enclosed so there was no need to arrive early for this. There was plenty of time to admire the meerkats and red squirrels on the way. In fact, as the otters are in a new enclosure at the furthest point from the entrance, the spectator viewpoint was still being worked on. Small children couldnt see very well so sitting on parents shoulders was required to get a reasonable view. Still the keeper was good at getting the very nervous otters to come close to the spectators by a canny distribution of their food. There were other encounters planned for the day including parrots, wallabies and skunks but we couldnt stay for those. In fact, the encounters can change from day to day so you can be surprised next time you visit and cannot rely on what you will get to see. We had time for lunch in one of the picnic areas close to the playground. The kids enjoyed this almost as much as seeing the animals at the time but it is the close encounters that they remember. On the way out, we had time to see most of their other animals including wallabies (some were albino), kookaburras, ravens, eagles, owls, donkeys and giant tortoises. Another area I should mention is tractorland where the children only can ride motorised mini vehicles. Only when we arrived at that area did we realise it cost £1 per ride. Without the time or coins available, the children were very disappointed so be prepared one way or another. Overall I must say we had a very enjoyable day. I was expecting to be focussed mainly on the tropical part with the butterflies but there was so much more to see. The place is relatively small but is set out in a spacious manner so it was easy to move about and get good, close views of the animals. The ground was flat so there was easy access for prams, buggies and wheelchairs. We did get to see virtually everything they had so another visit too soon may not be so satisfying. However, the animal encounters are what stand out so with potentially different ones to participate in next time, perhaps a return visit will not be too far away.
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting one of the largest Butterfly Houses in the country. Its part of the Tropical Wings World of Wildlife at South Woodham Ferrers in Essex and this was my second visit. I have to admit that the first time I went there it came as a complete surprise to me. I say that because I must pass it at least once a week and, although I knew it was there, I had absolutely no idea of how big it was or what creatures inhabited it. The first surprise came with the size of the car park, or perhaps I should say parks as they have a main car park and at least two overflows. Parking is free and the walk back to the entrance is very pleasant. The first thing you come to at the entrance is a large well stocked gift shop with all types of gifts from pocket money toys upwards. As this is before the actual entrance no fee is required if you wish to shop without going into the park. The same applies to the Butterfly Tea Room where you can enjoy everything from breakfast through to cream teas. Having paid your entrance fee you are issued with a wrist band allowing you to come and go as you please for the entire day. As there are several picnic areas, this allows you to return to the car park for your food rather than carrying it around with you which is much more convenient especially when you have children with you. We had not considered this as we only live a few miles away but would certainly think of doing so for future visits as you can happily spend a full day there. There is no particular route through the park so our first visit was through the Butterfly House. This is where the name Tropical Wings originates. Once through the doors you are transported into a tropical rain forest and immediately you start to see huge butterflies in all sorts of colours. I think the largest is the Owl Butterfly, so named because with its wings spread the markings resemble the face of an owl. As its wingspan is 12-15 cms (approximately 4.5 6 inches) this is quite impressive. There were quite a number of these creatures flying about and further along some feeding on rotting bananas. One of the smaller butterflies, but very noticeable, was the Zebra Butterfly named obviously for its markings. The house, as I said, is in the style of a rain forest with corresponding plants and flowers. There are seats in sheltered areas should you wish to linger one being the area where the Owl Butterflies are regularly fed. There are plenty of information boards telling you about the various butterflies. I should also mention the caterpillar corner a kind of nursery area! About half way along there is a pond well stocked with Koi which the children have fun feeding. The food can be purchased for these in the gift shop, although most indications are that animals should not be fed unless with permission. The exceptions are the Koi, chickens and ducks. Leaving the humidity of the Butterfly House, you head into gardens surrounded by aviaries containing all kinds of parrots, owls and birds of prey. One of their birds became quite famous recently when it took off during a training flight and remained at loose for several days. This was Guinevere a vulture. However, she remained in the area and has now been happily reunited with her mate, Lancelot. There is also a walk through aviary with many smaller birds: finches, doves and touracos. Out in the garden there are several peacocks including some albinos, their white feathers like the finest lace. Past the owls and birds of prey aviaries the path leads you to the Flying Display Lawn. Tropical Wings are very proud to have Kaptain Kook a tame Kookaburra who often features in displays one of which we were fortunate to see. Further on you come to the Chicken Run, the Duck Pond, Shetland Ponies and the Wallaby Paddock. The chickens and wallabies quite happily make friends with visitors by leaving their enclosures whenever they please. On our visit last week we were lucky enough to be in time to see feeding the wallabies. The keepers gave information about the animals and handed out food for the children there to hand feed. Quite a few of the wallabies had recently given birth and their babies were visible in their pouches. There are also several albinos which are apparently quite rare. New additions this year are Raccoons, Ring-tailed Lemurs, Meerkats and Red Squirrels. Making our way back we found that we hadnt seen the Reptiles and Bugs another tropical house - which is also home to some marmosets and polecats. We made one more visit to the butterflies before leaving the heat of the house managing to steam up my glasses but the warmth was pleasant after the rather chilly wind outside. Visitors are well catered for even on wet days as extra entertainment is usually laid on in the covered areas. The centre is wheelchair friendly and there are toilets for the disabled. Because of the nature of the place no dogs are allowed with the exception of guide dogs. Hours of opening are: April September 9.30 to 5.30 and October March 10.30 to 4.30. In both cases last admissions are one hour before closing time. 2006 Prices: Adults - £5.80, Children (age 3 15) - £3.75, Senior Citizens - £4.75. There is no charge for children less than three years. There are other rates available for groups and the information and map showing the location can be obtained from their website: www.tropicalwings.co.uk I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and Im sure I shall be going back before too long. I hope that this will be of interest to you and I thank you for reading.