Friday, 4 June 2010
Dartmoor Zoological Park
Having small children now means that I'll be visiting South Devon's best family attractions this summer. First up is Dartmoor Zoological park, near Ivybridge.
We got there nice and early, about half an hour after the park opened and the car park was already filling up nicely (it was bank holiday monday after all). After paying £8.95 each (kids under 5 are free), we began the walk up the hill toward the main part of the zoo.
Its a funny place, basically what looks like a farm on the side of a hill, with pastures for each of the animals, with the more dangerous animals having proper pens at the top of the hill. There are around 200 animals including Osterich, Brown bear, monkeys, meerkat, and several big cats.
I quite enjoyed myself actually. It is a little run down in places (toilet blocks need some tlc, paths are a bit on the dodgy side if you don't have a middle-classtastic phil & ted!) and a bit grubby, but its obvious that they are investing money into the park in the right places. The restaurant is nice with a great little meerkat enclosure right in front of it and there is a large picnic area near the big cat pens with plenty of picnic tables (they missed a trick by not opening the kiosk though - they would have made a killing while we were there). We were even treated to a display from a Peacock - obviously touting for food!
Sammy was quite taken aback by the big cats - the roar of the male lion made him sit up and look around and he watched the tigers for ages, until one began pacing up and down the fence 3 feet from our noses.
There was a small petting area with some small goats which Sammy enjoyed, though he did get gently butted at one point. I think he may have deserved it for poking the poor goat in the eye one too many times.
Overall, it was good half day out for the kids. I don't think I would go back again this year (or next), but it was a good way to show Sammy what lions and tigers look like in real life!