Back in September Bumpa and Gigi came to stay as my parents were off partying at something called a wedding, so it was up to them to keep me occupied, stimulated and generally busy, or at least that’s what I think Mum said.
So they decided to take me to Wild Place near Bristol, which sounded great and everything was going pretty well until a distinct sense of panic grew in the house and I was rushed into the car and we shot off at a rate of knots. “What’s going on?” I thought.
From what I could gather Bumpa had been on the internet and it said it was closing in 1 hour and it was 20 minutes away!!
Anyway we got there and the internet had told a bit of a fib according to the lovely lady at the entrance. She said that they only stop people getting in at 4 and it was open until 5.30. She also said that a lot of people had said the same thing and that the website didn’t make it very clear, looking again recently Bumpa said they had changed this to make it clearer so next time we will not be in such a rush and they will not forget my cheesy snacks!
From the moment they wheeled me in it all got very exciting with some AMAZING high wires near the entrance, I can’t wait to go on those when I am bigger as everyone on them was having such fun. They are HUGE and obviously a real challenge. Still at least we got to see the elephants straightaway, what a start to an adventure.
The signs told us that the lemur enclosure was shutting soon so off we dashed to see King Julien and his followers . He wasn’t there but WOW talk about up close and personal, we walked around their enclosure and they were all around us, this was brilliant and we spent ages there as they all seemed really chilled and happy that we were close. The people looking after them were lovely and very helpful telling Bumpa all about them so he could then tell me, pretending that he knew all along.
The paths were brilliant and every now and then there were big boards celebrating some people they called global conservation heroes, there was a termite mountain, cheetah families (we saw them really up close and personal, lucky they were on the other side of a very nice fence as I think they thought I might make a good starter, Bumpa would have fed the whole pride!)
I even got to walk on a balance bar trail, with a little help from Gigi! Everything was just like being in a Wild Adventure, I wonder if that is why they called it The Wild Place?
What really blew all our minds was the aerial walkway built through the forest and above the bears, so we did go down to the woods and we did get a big surprise! It was amazing and they didn’t even seem to notice us (and the 50 or so people who were around us) as they mucked about climbing trees. It felt as if we were actually in bear country and they were looking at us rather than the other way round.
Then the highlight of the day, GIRAFFES!!! My Mum loves giraffes and I know she was very jealous when she heard we were there with them. They had a big enclosure but the best bit was where they ate, they came inside to a huge shed and we stood on the platform and we were eye level with them, nice touch Wild Place.
The whole trip was wonderfully understated and because of that it felt more real, the animals looked relaxed and everyone who was there with us were having the same fun we were.
Gigi said that it was brilliantly presented, very clean, suitably rough at the edges and with great people and volunteers who just joined on and seemed to second guess questions, just by chatting to you. They were all so enthusiastic that everyone seemed to have a smile on their faces. It all added up to a very real experience that was all the better for its natural feel.
I haven’t been to many animal attractions but Bumpa and Gigi have been to loads, including something called a safari in somewhere called Africa and they said Wild Place was so amazing that they brought me, and my Mum of course, a season ticket. So we can go there as many times as we like and I know that we will see something new every time we go. There is so much to do but it didn’t feel crowded, as are some attractions they have taken me to, and best of all there was plenty of space for prams and buggies because I don’t like to do the whole thing on my little legs. The vibe is authentic and the messages around conservation feel more real and connected than in a very organised, heavily designed “more formal zoo”.
It felt like the way forward and soooo different to the Bristol Zoo that has recently closed. It was like the difference between my Mum and Dads small back garden and the huge park they take me to….. I know where I want to go and explore.