Dalton Zoo

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Hard on the heels of our trip to Wales followed the further excitement of a visit from our American cousins. Is it really two years since we went to visit with them? Tempus fugit and all that. Anyway, one of the many exciting outings we went on whilst we were in Virginia was to Washington Zoo. Now, don’t get me wrong, Washington Zoo was mighty fine – they have a Komodo dragon! – but we thought (and still think, not that we’re biased or anything) that Dalton Zoo in our humble little corner of the North-Wet of England would, at the very least, run it pretty close in a face-off, zoo vs zoo.

At Dalton you can feed the emus, the lemurs, the penguins (although we were too late for that fishy pleasure) and the giraffes…

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Not to mention the kangaroos…

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At Dalton, set on a windswept Cumbrian hillside, the enclosures are generally quite large, so that these rhinos, for example…

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…were photographed on a long zoom.

The zoo has recently expanded, making room to accommodate lots of new residents…

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…including, as well as the wolves, snow leopards and two kinds of jaguar.

The old favourites are all still present and correct…

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A second, large, bird enclosure has been added…

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Although the emus aren’t the only birds which seem to be able to wander fairly freely…

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I was chuffed to get a photo of one of the giant otters…

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As if all that isn’t enough, the zoo now has two – yes two – train rides to enjoy…

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Professor A was so enthused he even wore his Casey Jones cap for the occasion. (OK I may be stretching a point there).

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An enormous playground has also been added…

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Real concentration was required…

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Although a broken arm didn’t seem to be any hindrance when clambering to the top…

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Funny how the pain always returned, and the sling was pressed back into service, whenever there was washing-up to be done.

Weeks after the event, S reported a conversation he had overheard in the zoo’s gift shop. A mother and daughter were looking at animal wall-pegs which were personalised with various Christian names:

“Mum, how come these things never have my name on them?”

“Because your name is unique, dear.”

I waited a while for the punch line to come, but S seemed confident that his story had finished.

“So, what was her name?” I asked.

“Unique!”

Obvious really.

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Dalton Zoo

You Can Come Too Too Too

Visited a top location for wildlife today. There were the ubiquitous bullying Mallards:

Tufted Ducks, female…

…and male:

Shelduck:

Moorhens

Widgeon:

Pochard…common:

..and Red-crested:

Marbled Teal:

Nesting Storks:

Preening Geese:

Otters:

Rhinoceros:

OK…so I’m off topic. I wasn’t on one of my local walks – we drove round to the north of the Bay to the South Lakes Wildlife Park near Dalton. The ducks at the top of the post are local species but we don’t have Storks or Rhinoceros (or sadly Marbled Teal).

We all love this zoo. Part of the pleasure of the experience for Angela and I is in watching the excitement and wonder of the kids. We began our visit in the Giraffe house, because visitors can hand feed them at 11.30. There was a slight delay because the Ring-tailed Lemurs, who have the run of the zoo, were riding on the Giraffe’s backs – which they weren’t supposed to be. To feed the Giraffes you hold your hand out flat with a vegetable on it and the Giraffes remove it with their long and dexterous tongues.

We finished or day hand-feeding Herrings to Penguins. There were many highlights in between. The Storks were nesting in an area where the animals wander freely and the visitors are inside the same enclosure. You are allowed to feed some of the animals in this particular enclosure. Two Storks on a nest were upset by a Wallaby which was fiddling with the twigs on one side of the nest. One of the Storks gave the Wallaby a sharp peck and then both birds threw back their heads, with their beaks pointing skywards, and clacked their beaks like castanets.

Amy and Ben enjoyed the train:

We regularly visit, and my favourite past of any visit is watching the Tigers feeding in the afternoon.

They retrieve their meat from tall poles (which I totally failed to capture). And then retire to a high platform to enjoy the spoils of their efforts:

You can find more animal pictures on my flickr site (if you’ve managed to stick with me so far), but I wanted to share this sequence of a Lion because I know exactly how he feels:

He was asleep. My kids – in their excitement – started to shout:

What?

Ok – I’m awake, but only under protest.

Finally – whilst I am perhaps ‘off message’, I can’t help thinking that this Blog is often as much about family as it is about walking.

You Can Come Too Too Too