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= = = = = = = = About the Zoo = = = = = = = = The Isle of Wight Zoo is a family-run zoo with a special interest in tigers and lemurs. The zoo was built within the ruins of a Victorian Fort built to guard Sandown's coast, which means they face one of the Isle of Wight's nicest beaches. Once upon a time the zoo owners used to walk tiger cubs on the beach, and they are still famous locally for it. Nowadays they focus on looking after older tigers and giving them a happy retirement. Providing top-quality day to day care for the animals at the zoo is their ongoing mission. This isn't just about the keepers and veterinary staff - it also involves people such as the maintenance and horticulture staff who look after their enclosures. Every single person who works or volunteers at the zoo makes a contribution to animal welfare. Their long-term goal is to keep contributing to Conservation. Many of their animals are threatened in the wild, largely through human activity. The zoo funds conservation in India and Madagascar, and also participates in European Endangered Species breeding programmes for some of their Madagascan animals. Through Education they want to inspire their visitors and friends with a passion for the natural world. The zoo is always looking for ways to make it fun and easy to find out more about our animals. Their tour guides make the experience interactive, with friendly presentations in which they share some of the animals' secrets. The zoo also works in formal education, hosting school groups and going out to visit classrooms. I was staying in Sandown so I was able to walk to the zoo along the sea-front which took around 20mins. There is free parking for visitors though and there seemed to be plenty of parking.
They also have family tickets and if you live on the Isle of Wight and can prove this, you also get in for a cheaper price. Once buying a ticket you can re-use this again to visit the zoo within 7 days from the date of the ticket and you pay just £1, which I think is brilliant.
= = = = = The Zoo = = = = = We got to the zoo once they had opened and the car park only had a few cars in it. Once paying we were handed a leaflet which had a day planner of talks and tours about the different animals during the day. On the other side was also a park map as well. Some of the talks and tours of the day included ‘Animals of the New World’, ‘Lemurs of Madagascar’, ‘African Lions’, Wallaby Encounter’, Animals Encounters’ and more including ‘Big Cat Feed’. The zoo seemed to have a large number of enclosures with a range of different animals in. We made our way to the first set of enclosures which included Racoons & Marmoset’s. These animals are from Madagascar and were in temporary enclosures whilst new one’s are built for them; but the animals seemed happy. There is no right or wrong way to walk around the zoo but we just followed the path. We saw an enclosure which had lots of wallabies in, some of which were albino wallabies which I have never seen before. It was fun watching them hop around their enclosure and we stood and watched them for a while. On our way to the next enclosure which contained a large range of Lemur’s I thought the zoo looked a little run down and a lot of the plants around the enclosures looked as though they need tending to. I was excited about entering the section which contained the ‘Big Cats’. This included White Lions and Tigers.
The tigers which were in the first enclosure were actually twins and the male twin had no black markings on him which made him look stunning. There was a viewing are under a shelter where you could see the tigers through glass and take some lovely photographs. We moved onto the next enclosure which contained a gorgeous male white lion and also a female white lion in the enclosure next to it. The zoo are trying to introduce the two to each other slowly in order for them to reproduce so although these were in different enclosures they were quite close to each other and were watching each other. These lions were beautiful and I could have watched them all day. There is a small Farm in this area which contains pigs, goats and a few rabbits as well. We walked around to the Meerkats enclosure which is where a keeper was cleaning the enclosure out. This was a little amusing as the meerkats kept jumping onto the keeper as she worked. She had a bucket with her and when she put this down one of the meerkats kept tipping over the bucket when she wasn’t looking. From here we went to look as the other big cats which included the White Tiger, African Lions and other Tigers. The white tiger was unfortunately at the back of the enclosure lying down so we weren’t able to really see her. The African lion was also lying in the sun but quite high up so we were really able to see this lion either.
After leaving the Big Cats section we walked to the other enclosures which included Coatis, Jaguar, Geoffrey’s Cat and there were also some monkey’s as well which seemed to be having fun jumping from their ropes and holding onto the cages of their enclosures. There is an education centre in the zoo where you can learn about the animals and the care that they get whilst at the zoo. On the way out you will walk through the Café which sells a range of snacks and drinks. There are also some reptiles in vivarium’s including snakes, spiders, gecko’s and a very big iguana. The Café had plenty of seating and there was a good choice of food on the menu although we did find their prices rather expensive and my mother was the only one who ate here in the end and she just had a sandwich which was at least £4.00 which we though was rather expensive for a sandwich on bread which was also a little dry. There are toilets at the zoo but they are located outside of the cage just before you enter. The toilets were very clean and tidy and there was plenty of soap with toilet tissue and working hand dryers. On the way out you can visit the small gift shop which sells a range of different gifts such as stuffed toys, stationery, postcards and other items. I did purchase 2 postcards of the white lion and also the twin tigers and it cost me £2.00 for both. I thought this was reasonable as the postcards are very good quality and would lovely in a photo frame.
= = = = = = = = = Overall Opinion = = = = = = = = = I couldn’t wait to visit this zoo as I was looking forwards to seeing the big cats. Although the price of the zoo seems a little pricey I think it’s great that you can return to the zoo within 7 days for just £1 when showing your previous ticket. When walking into the main zoo after paying I did think that the zoo looked slightly run down and could have done with neatening up a little. The animals in their enclosures seemed very happy and their enclosures were clean and had plenty of things such as toys for them to play with. There were at least 9 different talks and tours during the day; how-ever we didn’t see any of these as we just made our own way around the zoo. There were other people on these talks and tours though. Although we were able to see a lot of the animals there were a few that we couldn’t see; how-ever this can’t be helped and isn’t the zoo’s fault. There was information about the different animals in their enclosures and it tells you a little about each animal as well which I thought was brilliant. The white lions are absolutely, gorgeous animals and it was so nice to see that they are trying to introduce the male and female together. I did actually go back to the ‘Big Cat’ section once we had been round the zoo to have another look at the big cats. By this time the male white lion was up high on a rock and looked like a real king lion. Although the zoo seems a little run down and could do with some work done to it there were seating areas around the zoo and the animals seemed very happy. We did see some members of staff during our visit and they seemed very polite. I would visit here again as I loved seeing the big cats and would gladly go back to the zoo just to see them.