I’ve never especially been one for zoos. Peering in on caged animals has always felt just a little bit distasteful, and the crowds in London were enough to put me off entirely.
Since we’ve moved down here, though, I’ve become quite attached to our little zoo in Paignton. It’s not actually so little – most of the animals seem to have plenty of space, and they’re all pretty chilled. The conservation work the zoo’s involved in is widely advertised, and suddenly that makes a lot more sense of what they’re all about. Watching Arthur meet animals up close that he would otherwise be unlikely to ever see in real life is quite magical too, and I can see that as he grows the zoo is going to be an important part of his education about the wider world.
We’ve become members of Paignton Zoo, and try to visit as often as we can. It’s great getting to know the space and the animals better, not feeling like we have to race round it all but instead being able to focus in on particular zones. There are some areas that I’m becoming especially fond of.
There’s the camels’ enclosure, where as you watch them lolloping around you can gaze out past the neighbouring houses to the sea beyond. I often wonder what it must be like to live in one of those houses which back right up to the zoo. The noises that fill the air after all the visitors have gone home must be quite surreal – more like being on the African Savannah than the English Riviera.
At the other end of the spectrum I love the petting zoo too. We only discovered it on a recent visit, but Arthur loved being able to go right up to the animals, sitting and chatting with a goat as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
My first favourite spot though, and one that still makes me smile, is the one where the ostriches and zebras hang out together. Of course in the wild animals wouldn’t be segregated as they are so often in zoos, split up into their own little areas with information labels to make them easier to identify. I realise there are probably all sorts of complications with integrating different species of animals more fully in captivity, but still it’s lovely to see these two happily sharing their space. I’m not sure you could get two more different creatures side by side either, though they are pretty well colour co-ordinated!
O is for ostrich.
Joining in with The Alphabet Photography Project over at PODcast.