Last week, I was lucky enough to have a week off work and so I hopped on the train up North, back to Wakefield, to spend my time off with my wonderful family. As my sister had also managed to secure an extra day off work, me, two of my sisters and my mum decided to travel over to Doncaster and visit Yorkshire Wildlife Park.
I'd actually been to YWP once before and I remember being not overly impressed by it. I believe it had only opened recently and so I was bored by the lack of exhibits and beyond the polar bear; I thought there was nothing much it could offer me that Chester Zoo hadn't in the past.
Thankfully, this time round, my impressions of the Park were much better.
We started our day cooing over the little meerkats and mongooses (mongeese?!) before heading over to the lemur enclosure. The lemur enclosure is one of the elements at YWP that sets it apart from other zoos. Rather than looking at these adorable little creatures from afar, you actually get to enter the enclosure they are housed in and walk around. Sadly this time I didn't spot any Ring-Tailed Lemurs, the type that usually springs to mind when you think of lemurs; however, there were some gorgeous Black-and-White Ruffed Lemurs just chilling on the grass and these were so cute.
The Park is also home to some other walkthrough enclosures besides Lemur Woods: South America Viva and Wallaby Walkabout. After checking out the lemurs, my mum noticed it was feeding time for the squirrel monkeys which can be found in the South America Viva, so we wandered on over there. Although these monkeys were damn cute, and the lady doing the feeding time talk was funny and knowledgeable, they were not the highlights of this enclosure for me. No, for me, it's being up close with Capybaras, Maras and Azara's Agoutis that really make this area of YWP shine.
This time round, we were also lucky enough to catch the lions being fed some great huge chunks of meat. While not quite as exciting as the time we saw a hugely unfortunate duck fly into the lion enclosure at Chester Zoo, I still find it fascinating to see lions feeding. I was also delighted to see plenty of tigers. I am always amazed at the sheer size of tigers and they're definitely one of my favourites.
Since my last visit, the number of polar bears on show at the Wildlife Park has jumped from one to four. I remember being severely underwhelmed last time, but going with my sister, who is enamoured by the animal, must have rubbed off on me as I loved them this time round. As we arrived, there was one swimming in the water and playing with a ball. It was so cute!
Other highlights of the day included the baboons, giraffes and painted dogs. However, the real, and quite unexpected, star of the day was the armadillo. It was the cutest thing I have ever seen. It was running round its circular enclosure and occasionally burrowing into holes and stopping to pose. I don't think I've ever seen one before and I can't say I was disappointed. It was smaller than I expected and argh, just SO DAMN CUTE.
If you're ever around in Yorkshire and stuck for things to do, I recommend a visit to Yorkshire Wildlife Park. It might not be the best on a rainy day but if the weather is dry, it's so worth it. You can easily spend the day there as well as there's lots of places to eat. I was particularly pleased to find a Mexican/South American themed eatery in the heart of the Park, where I could stuff my face with a burrito and mozzarella sticks. Yum yum!
Have you ever been to Yorkshire Wildlife Park? What's your favourite zoo?