You have to admit it, Jasper the red panda is very cute. We saw him on our day out at Wingham Wildlife Park on Saturday. We took my nephew (who’s 3 and a half) and my mum-in-law, and arrived for lunch after about an hours drive.
The park was taken over in 2008 so it was a mixture of new animal enclosures and the old tatty run down parts which are on their list for redoing. In fact, they had started to build the new entrance/cafe/gift shop when we went in – and it’s badly needed. They currently have a small cafe with a reasonable selection of food (sandwiches, burgers, jacket potatoes and all day breakfasts for example). However, their cafe furniture in a small, none ventilated room was pretty unpleasant if you don’t like the heat. Outside are modern, metal bistro type tables – but it was rather breezy and I didn’t fancy my hair becoming part of my chilli and cheese jacket potato. I suppose you have to watch the pennies when you are doing up a park – but charging for sauce condiments and not having serviettes was a bit much. That said, I enjoyed my lunch and my nephew was now fuelled on cheese sandwiches.
Teddy came with us and travelled on my knee until such a time where he didn’t seem to mind being hung on the back of my chair in a plastic bag. Teddy had been immediately abandoned for a blue snake from the gift shop which was now exploring the park with my nephew. Life can be hard for a bear.
Although a little bumpy (lots of uneven terrain), and with Teddy hanging on for his life, we covered the whole park and still had quite some time in the play area. I always like the walk through enclosures with the hope of standing next to the animals. In this park you can do this with the flamingos and lemurs. I managed to stand within 3 few feet of a flamingo – just before an idiot tried to stand right on their bank thus scattering them into the water. I guess some people really don’t know how to behave around animals.
Seeing the animals
The park had lots of small animals, a few large cats and a handful of penguins (in a new and modern environment) . My nephew flitted from one to the other with his 20 second attention span. The wolves and reptiles won over a few more seconds and we saw the crocodiles being fed. He managed to turn into an attraction himself at one point when he ran towards the meerkats and his trousers fell down.
For a new enclosure, it was a shame that the wooden walkway around the pool didn’t have enough space to pass people, well not in a wheelchair. I only just managed to squeeze past the prams in my small chair – otherwise it was single file. If they had just allowed another 6 inches this could have been avoided.
Sometimes the viewing experience from a low height is not the best – and reptile houses are usually the worst. Here is an example at Wingham. It also give you the perspective of what the park experience might be for a small child.
This is what standing people see:
This is what I see:
Still, the sun shone and we had quite a good day all in all.