I have always been a bit ambivalent about going to a zoo. Animals are extraordinary creatures but so alien to me and the world I live in that deference and wariness invariably play a little tug of war when I find myself near them. In a zoo by definition, the animals are also not doing whatever they do in the wild that makes Sir Attenborough’s programs so riveting. However, zoos come in handy when you have become old enough to wear Boden’s corduroy skirts and still have never seen a giraffe in your life.
Cotswold Wildlife Park is one of the major attractions in the whole region and beyond and therefore can be very busy. Such was the case when I went on a sunny day in August. The place is so big though, that overcrowding was never an issue, except perhaps in the insect house. Ample parking, several eating places, enough toilets, a large new gift shop and numerous sign posts make it one of the easiest place to find, move around in and enjoy.
The park immediately resonated both with my inner child’s brain and my adult eyes. The adult marveled at the wonderful setting. Even stripped off its wonderful zoological collection, the place wouldn’t be without appeal but with the animals it works surprisingly well. It is not often that a rhino can be seen with a Cotswolds manor backdrop and this visual oxymoron alone is worth the trip.
While the adult was busy taking pictures of rhinos in front of Cotswolds stone and camels walking on flat green pastures, the inner child was tugging at the corduroy skirt, getting impatient because she wanted to see the giraffe now. My patience was amply rewarded as there was not one but three giraffes in the park. A perfect nuclear family of the elegant red spotted beast obliviously munching on dried leaves and the icing on the wildlife park cake.
I did feel sorry for lions, tigers and wolves though. Their enclosures are on the small side and even though they are fed and do not need a huge territory, it seems a pity to contain their wild raw power that much. On a more positive note, lots of species had bred, proving the animals are well cared for. This also made for so many interesting questions about where babies come from the Red Face Parent was practically another specie on show that day.
With over 350 000 visitors per year, the Cotswold Wildlife Park is a success and I’m not surprised given how well the place is tended and staffed. Beauties both of the flora and the fauna kind are a banquet for the eyes and it is truly a fantastic day out for everyone, be it for entertainment or education purposes. All I need now is to borrow a child in order to go again and show them the giraffe before they reach the age for Boden clothes.