The summer is almost over and with my partner working so hard, we haven't had the chance for many family days out. Sure we have a stroll in town and go for meals together with Willow who loves grabbing a cheeky slice of toast off of our plates, but we wanted to make sure we got the chance to have a proper family day out before the summer was over and Twycross Zoo was the perfect choice!
We actually live a lot closer to Twycross Zoo than I realised, just a 30 minute drive from us. I remember visiting as a child and I've always loved animals, so getting to see ones you normally wouldn't encounter on your average day is very exciting for me. The last zoo I went to was in London and unfortunately, I was really disappointed by how dirty the enclosures were, particularly the glass which made it difficult to actually see the animals inside. I was excited to see how Twycross Zoo compared, with my last visit as a very young girl, and with lots of friends visiting over the summer and sharing their favourite photos from their own family days out, I knew we were in for a much more positive experience at Twycross Zoo.
Planning the day was so much fun. I wanted us to take a picnic, with a hot day and lovely sunshine forecast for the day, a lovely way to have lunch together. I also made sure to check out all the details on the website before our visit, including what kind of animals we'd be able to see on the day as well as the general layout of the zoo to plan our way around.
There are a lot of mixed views when it comes to zoos, which I completely understand and appreciate. However when you look into the history, the passionate work the team carry out and the positive benefits they have created towards animal conservation, Twycross Zoo is a really great place and a well respected charity that has animals best interests at heart; not just at the zoo, but all over the world.
Over the summer Twycross Zoo have had an exciting buzz around them, appearing in the news and being celebrated world-wide when they announced the birth of two Amur Leopard cubs; one of the world's rarest big cats. The second pair of cubs to be born at Twycross Zoo, it shows the success that the team have in helping to keep this rare breed alive. Native to Eastern Russian forest and mountain environments, their habitat is at risk of being completely wiped out and can often be poached for their fur. Wild Amur Leopards are incredibly rare, with just 70 known individual Amur Leopards known of in the wild, so breeding in zoos around the world goes a tremendous way to keeping this species alive.
If that wasn't exciting enough, a Diana Monkey was born at Twycross to first-time parents earlier in the year, the first of it's kind to be born in the UK in 5 years; the first in 29 years at Twycross. An endangered species, they are at risk of losing their native West African habitat, meaning the birth of this endangered Diana Monkey is one to be celebrated!
These are just some of the amazing conservation and breeding celebrations that take place at Twycross Zoo, and you can find out more in the news section of the Twycross Zoo website.
When we arrived at Twycross Zoo I think it's safe to say I was the most excited. The whole journey there I was like a little girl, unable to contain my excitement about the day ahead. We went along with my dad, who loves a good day out as much as Willow and I do. The ages in our own group are diverse; 7 months, 28, 30 and 73, but just looking around as we walked from the car park to the entrance, and throughout our day there, you could see what a truly diverse range of people enjoy a day out at the zoo. There were families big and small, couples of all ages, babies, toddlers, young children and teenagers, even elderly couples enjoying a walk around. There was a definite buzz in the air, everyone of all ages was so happy to be there and it made our day even more lovely, because the atmosphere was so fantastic!
All of the areas around the zoo are so well laid out, with access for pushchairs and wheelchairs up to every single enclosure. There's a few talks which take place throughout the day and you can even watch mini-feeding times in certain enclosures; we caught a monkey feeding session which was funny! There is a huge range of primates at Twycross, world-renowned as a primate specialist zoo, which is clear to see from the huge proportion of the zoo being home to several types of primates.
There's more to Twycross Zoo than just primates though, with a beautiful herd of Asian elephants, some stunning giraffes and a couple of big cats, all mixed in with birds, meerkats, reptiles and invertebrates. Some of the smaller creatures are ones you can get really up close and personal with, too, such as the Aldabra Giant Tortoise family, which amazed me by their size, as well as stepping inside the Butterfly Forest, which was a real highlight of the day for me.
There's more than just animals at Twycross too, although of course they take centre stage, with several play areas including the Wet 'n' Wild section, several outdoor kids play areas as well as a huge soft play centre at the entrance, next to a dining area and the gift shop. I'm a sucker for gift shops and always try and pick something out for Willow when we visit somewhere; this time her daddy treated her to a huge standing giraffe teddy and an elephant hand puppet, whilst I picked her up three miniature soft teddies; a monkey, a snow leopard and an elephant! She's had so much fun playing with them at home and I love that she's collecting quite the animal family, already having a parrot and owl from another day out we recently had.
We spent an entire day at Twycross, from the moment the doors opened at 10am until 4pm. It was the loveliest day and I loved watching Willow's eyes widen when she met the monkeys and apes, and her sheer concentration trying to follow the butterflies with her eyes in the Butterfly Forest. I know we'll be back again next year, when she will be older and hopefully walking, able to take in more than her young 7 months. It really was the perfect family day out!
Find out more and plan your visit to Twycross Zoo over at www.twycrosszoo.org.
*We were kindly invited along to Twycross Zoo as guests.
All views are entirely my own - Disclaimer.