BMW R1200GSA vs Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Lemur day. One of the best days so far.


In the words of King Julien XIII "What was that? Oh, it was me".

Oh wow! Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow!

What an absolutely, awesome, brilliant, beautiful, fantastic, wonderful day we've just had at Paradise Wildlife Park. Yes, I liked it.

King Julien's song.

WARNING - We took over 300 photos while we were there, so this blog will contain quite a few.

Juliet, Suzanne, and I rolled up at Paradise Wildlife Park in Broxbourne, Hertforshire at about 1pm. We were there for our up close and personal, behind the scenes encounter with the Lemurs. I don't mind admitting I had butterflies because I was so excited. The lovely head keeper Jana met us at reception and introduced us to our guide, primate keeper Steve. Steve took us to the Lemur enclosure and after a quick briefing of dos and don'ts (Most of which I ignored. Sorry Steve) I was handed a bowl of sliced up banana and apple and we were taken inside the Lemur enclosure.

Have a look at that hand. What a thumb,
but it's not opposable.

It was just such an amazing experience being in with these little guys. The females are the leaders and as such they got first pick of the food. Within a minute I had a couple of girls on my back (Yeah, what's new?). When they had finished the boys moved in for a feed. Leftovers I guess. The boys were a lot heavier and when one jumps on you from about fifteen feet away you know it. Thump! Oh, there's Lemur on my shoulder.

OK, enough babbling, here are a "few" photos:

Check out the baby. So cute.
I want one.

Some people are so impatient.
The guy on the right was obviously hungry.

I was very popular.

Is he blowing a raspberry at me?

 Check out the guy in the window.
It's actually a cat door.
A Meer"kat" door. Oh I crack me up.

 Don't you love those eyes.

Suzanne got a small look in.

Juliet made a new friend.

Now this is cool. My version of a mullet.
If I had a third one I could plait them.

Can you say "Movember?"

They were so gentle I was amazed. They would take food out of your hand and you would almost not feel them take it. At one point I put a piece of banana in my mouth and let one of them take it.

Gentle? Yes, very.

After about forty five minutes we left the enclosure and I was in seventh heaven. I was extremely happy and ready to head home completely satisfied. Jana was there and introduced us to Miles, who was a keeper who looked after the reptiles, and, wait for it....the Meerkats. "Would you like to visit the Meerkats?" Jana said.

Are you kidding? That would be YES! So off we went. On the way to the Meerkats we were treated to a small reptile encounter. Firstly we got to hold Biggie the Royal Python. She was beautiful and I'm still intrigued about how snakes move. She slid through our hands so gracefully, while flicking her little forked tongue out feeling the air, it was just magic.

Blurry photo of Biggie the Royal Python.
It was a bit dark inside and I didn't want to use the
flash because she might not have liked it.

Then we had a real treat. Miles got a Tenrec out for us to hold. These little guys are from Madagascar (I really think I need to go there). They are like a small hedgehog, or a tiny echidna with a pretty face, but they climb trees. It was so cool to hold this tiny thing in my hands. While Juliet was holding him, he stretched, then yawned and stretched again. Miles told us we were really lucky to have seen this as most keepers haven't ever seen it. All the spikes on his back spread as he stretched, then folded inward toward his spine so he had an indented line down his back.

Look at that face. He has a haircut like mine,
and it's the same colour.

 Don't you just want one.

I think my nose is a little bit bigger.

I was now on a huge high, and there was more to come. We went into the Meerkat enclosure with a couple of bowls of food. Who would have thought anyone would be so excited about some maggots? Apparently they are the Meerkats favourite. We sat down and the Meerkats were all over us.

 Apparently, if you're a Meerkat, and someone shows up at your house with a bowl of food, it's etiquette to climb into
the bowl and lay in it so no one else can get any. 

 Hand feeding a Meerkat. Oh wow.

 Make mine a double please.

"Hey Juliet . Take a look at this. 
There are two of them in there."

 Will you share with me?

 He was a little shy, but he came around eventually.

 These must be the rare Australian Meerkats.
They are huddled together under a heat lamp.

Is that a Meerkat in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me? This little guy climbed right in and snuggled up. You know that movie "We bought a zoo"? I think I need too.

As much as we didn't want to leave, it was unfortunately time to go. After our epic day we went to see Jana and say thank you. While we were in her office there was a thumping at the door.  I wondered what it was and it turned out to be an epileptic wallaby. The poor little thing was fitting. Jana and the vet were looking after her till she settled down. She was in good hands.

Suzanne, Jana, and a very happy Simon.

We  were so fortunate to have such a wonderful experience at Paradise Wildlife Park. A huge thank you to Jana for arranging this, and to Steve and Miles for looking after us so well. We owe you big time Jana. If you are ever in Perth, Australia you have free accommodation, food, and drinks for as long as you wish. A HUGE thank you from all of us.

As we left I was as happy as a dog with three tails.

The Lemur encounter is 99 GBP plus 49 GBP for an extra person. I reckon that is a real bargain. It's worth at the very least double that. If you have kids that love animals, or a friend that is awkward to buy gifts for, this is THE answer.

Come to think of it, it's only about four weeks til Christmas. This would have to be the best Christmas present in the world.


Paradise Wildlife Park is heavily involved in the breeding of endangered big cats. They are doing a wonderful job and do so with no government support, so the income from this park funds everything. (The cat's breeding park is in a separate location and isn't open to the public, although there are cats at the Paradise park). It costs around 1,800 pounds a day to run Paradise, so every pound they get helps. The upside is that if you do one of these experiences not only will you have one of the best days of your life, you will be making a contribution to the benefit of endangered big cats in the world. Serendipity at it's best. If you're in the UK, go and see them. Oh yes, please say hi to Jana for us.

Or, you could volunteer for one day a fortnight and help out at the park. Or you could buy a membership for a paltry eight GBP a month, and get this, that price is fixed for as long as you pay your membership. So in twenty years time you'll still only pay the same. Bottom line, for two quid a week you can go to the park 364 days a year and enjoy the whole thing.

So my day couldn't get better than that could it?

You want to bet?

The owner of the Paradise Wild Life Park, Peter Sampson, used to race speedway solos. He houses the National Speedway Museum in the grounds of Paradise. Am I in heaven? Animals and bikes in the same place. All we need is a strip club / bar next door and I'm moving in.

Take a look at this:

There was more than a passing nod to
Australian riders at the museum...

...including a big Jason Crump display.

"Jason Philip Crump is an Australian international motorcycle speedway rider. He is a three time Speedway World Champion. a World Cup winner and a former World Under-21 Champion" Wikipedia.

I've never ridden a speedway solo. 
Apparently they don't work unless you go fast, 
so that counts me out I guess.

 This is a "small" selection of
Simon Wigg's trophy collection...

...and a "few" of his medals.
I feel so inadequate.

Simon was the most successful British Grasstrack and Longtrack rider ever. He lost his battle with a brain tumour at a young forty years of age in the year 2000. It was a poignant reminder that even though I'd just enjoyed one of the best days ever, I still have to make the most of the limited time I have on this planet. We're here for a good time people, not for a long time. Enjoy.

We left Paradise (a perfectly apt name) just after four o'clock and as we were in the car Juliet said "Quick, Simon, there are Reindeer in the car park".  We leaped out of the car to watch a coupe of Reindeer being loaded into a trailer for a Christmas  function in town. It was right on sun set, and the deer silhouetted against they sky was magic. A perfect end to the day.

Sorry this is a really blurry photo. I just jumped out of the car and hit the shutter release a few times before they were loaded into the trailer for their trip into town.

Simon is a very happy boy today.

No comments:

Post a Comment