On Saturday we took the kids to Paradise Wildlife Park in Broxbourne and had a really wild time! Read our Paradise Wildlife Park Review for the low down on what to see, what to do and how to keep your little monkeys entertained while you're there.
After a beautiful drive through Broxbourne woods, we arrived early, bought a Wildlife Park Family ticket, got our hands stamped with a 'PWP' logo and headed into Paradise Wildlife Park with the kids in tow.
We had a quick look at the map to see that all the good stuff was over the zebra crossing and made our way through the maze of kids playground rides and pedal toy areas to the crossing, getting distracted on the way by pens full of noisy guinea pigs and sleepy rabbits.
Once across the road, we tried our best to follow the map, but quickly contented ourselves with just getting lost and wandering from enclosure to enclosure as different animals caught our eye.
First was the White Tiger, who prowled about, before climbing his log tower and standing proud, overlooking all the people watching him.
Then there were the Wolves, who seemed to be more content watching the people, than the people watching them.
Then we saw the massive Leopards and Tigers, before getting lost and wandering away from the Big Cat enclosures, getting distracted by the Penguins who were climbing rocks, jumping into the water and swimming about frantically, before taking time out to pose for the cameras.
Our whimsical wandering took us through the Ape and Monkey enclosures, where we saw Gibbons swinging through complex climbing frames and colourful little monkeys leaping from branch to branch, while the Lemurs lazed about, gazing back at us.
But the sheer diversity was astounding. And once the weather warmed up a bit later in the day, more of the animals came out.
Spotting a Red Panda on the way, we found ourselves back in the Big Cat area and climbed the steps to the Tiger Cafe for 'tea with the tigers'. Although the Tigers seemed rather sleepy today, although all the kids rushed to the windows whenever one of them got up on the top of their log tower.
We all had a cup of tea or coffee to warm us up after a few hours out in the cold, as well as a cake, cookie or scone to keep us going until later.
Walking along the high board walk from the cafe, we passed the Tigers on the way (who were still sleeping) and arrived at the Cheetahs, just before feeding time.
The crowds were really gathering and sensing it was feeding time, the Cheetahs were pacing and meowing before someone Feeding The Big Cats threw a hunk of cow into the enclosure from above.
The nearest Cheetah grabbed it and ran! Meanwhile the other Cheetahs chased after him and the three did a few lightning fast laps of their enclosure before the meat was torn apart.
They were so fast, I was lucky to get even a blurry photo of them!
Walking around the rest of the Big Cat area, we came across two beautiful Snow Leopards, as well as majestic White Lions. But by now the zoo was becoming quite busy and it was hard to catch a glimpse of these magnificent animals, let alone take any photos.
Because it was getting very cold again, we headed into the Reptile House to warm up and see all sorts of snakes, alligators and lizards. Once again, the sheer diversity of animals didn't disappoint and trying to spot the camouflaged animals was good fun. Especially when so many were hidden in plain sight.
Having spent countless hours at the zoo, we decided to make a move, but ended up passing the Farm Animals on the way, and had to stop to feed the sheep, and the goats, and the pigs, and even more guinea pigs and rabbits.
Then we headed back over the crossing and let the kids run wild in the children's play ground, where they took their shoes off to play on the bouncy castle, inflatable slides and ride the helter skelter in a hessian sack. Meanwhile there were countless slides and climbing frames in the shape of fire engines, JCBs, pirate ships, tree houses, dragons and loads more.
Best of all, every single ride was absolutely free!
After a good half an hour of wearing the kids out on slides, swings and climbing frames, we finished the day by paying £1 each to ride the miniature train around the woodland walk, catching a glimpse of deer and wolves, before heading home. And we made sure the kids didn't see the Jungle Gym on the way out, or we'd never have made it home in time for tea!
CONCLUSIONWe had an absolutely brilliant day out at Paradise Wildlife Park! You could say we enjoyed ourselves even more than the kids did.
I just have to say "London Zoo, eat your heart out!", because Paradise Wildlife Park quite simply is a much bigger and better zoo with an incredible collection of animals who are clearly all very well looked after and seem to enjoy showing off to the crowds.
Because of the way each enclosure is designed, you're able to get right up close to the animals like never before. And there's plenty of high vantage points as well. Meanwhile, the enclosures are massive, so the animals have plenty of room to run about and be themselves.
We arrived early and I strongly suggest that you do the same, because by midday, the zoo gets increasingly busy and it can be a challenge to get a glimpse of the animals.
Being there for feeding times is also a must! But like us, you'll probably be too busy happily getting lost, walking from area to area of the zoo.
But the best thing about Paradise Wildlife Park is how they've really thought about making it exciting for kids, from the moment you step through the gate, to the moment you leave.
So if you're looking for animal experience days to remember, I wholeheartedly recommend a day at Paradise Wildlife Park. I've been to a lot of zoos over the years and there really is nothing quite like it.