The hubby was very lucky to get an extra special present for his 50th birthday this year, a VIP experience at Chessington Zoo, where he was going to be a Carnivore Keeper for the day!
He is animal mad. Sometimes we think he is Dr Doolittle as he just loves all animals, animal programs, zoo’s and animal parks. It was for this reason that the present was the perfect gift for him when he received it in February.
Now it was time to get to Chessington and have the adventure. So off we set on Sunday 16th July, a warm, humid day, to travel the 90 minutes to the park.
As the experience was just for him, I planned to walk around the park and zoo on my own with my super new camera and see what kind of images I could get.
We arrived at the Chessington Hotel where he needed to book in for his experience, and we met a beautiful and very lovely lady by the name of Hollie. She told us that she would take him into the park and introduce the keeper he would be working with, and we said our goodbyes.
I entered into the park and immediately hit the Trail of the Kings, which is where all the big cats and gorillas are. Ambling around on my own, I took picture after picture, taking my time setting up the shots that I hoped I would capture.
I caught up with Les a little later and was introduced to Jo, the carnivore keeper.
She was a font of knowledge and had been telling him all about the different cats she looks after, including the Serval which was my personal favourite and the Binturong which smells bizarrely of buttered popcorn!
I left them going down to the otters and decided to make my way along to the Sealife Centre where I hoped to get some more photographs using different settings. On the way I decided to snap some flowers just to see if I could get shots where one thing was the focus, with the background being blurred. I twiddled buttons and dials and am pretty pleased with the results.
I have to admit I spent far more time in the Aquarium than I anticipated. I was fascinated with the Rays and couldn’t stop snapping shot after shot. Here are some of my favourites that I was lucky enough to get, including this picture that looks like the Ray is smiling for the camera!
Moving around the exhibits I was lucky enough to get some photographs that I really loved and am pretty proud of as I have never had any training on how to use the camera (I am hoping to do a night class at some point)
I was really please with how the aquarium photographs came out and have to say my favourite picture of the day is probably this one.
Finally leaving the centre, I spotted Les and Jo again, this time with a wheelbarrow full of meat and fish for the cats.
It was lunch time for the Otters which meant crabs. Les had to throw them into the enclosure and the Otters all grabbed them and ran off to wash them first! Apparently they don’t like the supplements the zoo gives them for their health, and wash them in the pools to get rid of it! Clever little Otters.
He also had dead chicks, salmon, horse and more, with each cat having a different diet.
The highlight of the feeding was when Jo took him into the Tiger enclosure to get it ready for feeding.
This consisted of hanging up horse legs and rib cages on wooden platforms and poles, shoveling up tiger poo and spraying scent and pheromones around the enclosure.
Then it was time to vacate as the Tigers came running out ready to get their food. The leg that was hung up on a wooden pole was snatched down in around 5 seconds flat and the rib cage didn’t last much longer.
It was at this point that I was joined by my sister and brother in law, and my beautiful niece Twiglet, who was booked in for a Giraffe experience that we had given her for Christmas, later that afternoon. Around ten minutes later Baby Bear and her boyfriend arrived.
Les was going off to feed the Lions so we all went to go on some of the rides, or in most cases watch the youngsters go on the rides!
It was late in the afternoon when he had finished his experience that we all met up together. He had the most amazing day, and couldn’t stop telling us about all the different animals he got to stroke and feed including the Serval which Jo had actually taken home and hand-reared!
As Les hadn’t seen much of the park, I took him into the Sealife Centre and took yet more photos!
One of the highlights of my day was as we were leaving the park. Now I may be 43 years old, however I love the Penguins from the film Madagascar. So you can imagine my excitement when I saw you could have your picture taken with them. I queued up with lots of little tots to get a snap. It literally made my day!
After that it was time for Twiglet to go and book in for her Giraffe feeding, so we arranged to meet at a pub called The Shy Horse once it was all finished.
Walking back to the hotel we again saw the lovely Hollie who was going to lead the Giraffe feeding! What a coincidence.
We got to the Pub and had a lovely relaxing drink before the others arrived and all the experiences were shared. Twiglet loved the Giraffe feed and has vowed to go again next year!
I earn’t some good auntie points for that one! Here she is with her favourite pictures of her experience; how cute is that?!
All in all it was an amazing day out and some lifelong dreams were made to come true. The smiles on both Les and Twiglet’s face were worth every penny.
Till next time,