Wingham Wildlife Park, Kent

Red Panda

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.

Wingham WIldlife Park -Louise - 01Teddy 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.

Getting around

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.

Penguins

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:

croc

This is what I see:

Wheelchair user view of crocodile

Still, the sun shone and we had quite a good day all in all.

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Isle of Wight – day 3, Seaview Wildlife Encounter

This was a great day for duck lovers like me. Seaview Wildlife Encounter is an award winning park is not far from Puckpool (I kid yee not rofl) and is situated on a hill at Sea View. The park has a modern feel and makes a feature out of getting as close as possible to the animals. The most memorable are the thousands of ducks (free roaming and in pens) from all over the world, walking through the wallaby enclosure. It was prime time for baby ducks – and the level of cuteness blows your mind. You can see those that have just popped out of their eggs in the baby care building.

Two Baby Ducks

Getting around was quite easy with wide paths, lightly stoned and not so many people. I made good use of my new chair feature being able to tilt in space going up and down the slopes. I can imagine it’s not so easy if you have to push yourself or someone else.

Everything apart from the meerkats were viewable from my height.  The fact you can walk through the tropical house with free flying birds and wander through pens with the wallaby and farm/pet area means you have uninterrupted views.

Map view

There were lots of birds (owls, parrots, flamingos,pelicans and penguins) and a few standard park issue (otters and petting areas for rabbits and goats etc).

Having the wallaby group virtually sitting on your feet is a nice experience 🙂

wallabyWe had lunch in their modern cafe/restaurant – today was more chips and a sausage in a burger bun. I’m not a great fan of chips and could already feel the grease oozing out of my pores.

Much time was spent with the ducks by the lake and I  easily managed to fill up my phone with a hundred and one duck photos.

ducks_me

The tropical house is new and planting wasn’t well established – it was about 80 degrees outside and about 90 in here (my husband left within seconds). I really liked it though and sat with the finches and other birds as they busied themselves munching.

tropical

We were the last people to leave and it was a good day. The only down side was the terrible ‘disabled’ toilet where they had a large space but failed to leave enough space both left and right of the loo (so you could not transfer from a wheelchair). It was another man handling job and sitting slightly sideways whilst praying I wouldn’t fall off. They were also not unisex so my husband had to bee seen walking into a lady’s ‘accessible’ loo. I had to choose to cross my legs for the rest of the day as it was too difficult to go twice.