Did you know there was a Zoo in the heart of Exmoor?
Neal Cobb, from Highcliffe House Bed & Breakfast, shares a memorable Exmoor experience with us …
One of the best and most thoughtful Birthday presents I’ve had was “Zoo Keeper for a day” at Exmoor Zoo.
After my first visit to Exmoor Zoo, I couldn’t stop talking about the Sand Cats (so cute) and the adorable Singing Prairie Dogs, to name but a few of the amazing animals at the zoo. So on my birthday last year, tucked into a nest of birthday presents, was an envelope containing a “Zoo Keeper for a Day” voucher. I could not believe it, such a great gift. I booked my date with the zoo straight away.
Arriving on a wet and windy Autumn morning, wearing my wellies and waterproofs as advised, I had a nice cup of tea with two of the zookeepers, one of which was going to escort me for the day.
We chatted through which animals we would meet, what we would do (cleaning out, feeding, grooming etc.) and were there any animals, in particular, I wanted to spend time with. Grinning, I said the “Singing Prairie Dogs”!! Little did I know that very afternoon I would be sat on a rock in the enclosure with them, singing at me, standing on my lap, licking my face like they had known me for years. I couldn’t have asked for more.
The whole day was so exciting, learning about the animals, stroking them, giving them a brush and making sure they had the right food and a clean environment. I never thought I would actually enjoy picking up Red-Neck Wallaby droppings in the rain, while they say next to me nibbling on their food.
Other highlights of the day included getting followed around by the naughty meerkats, a Lemur stole a piece of carrot from my pocket, I had a Bat Eared Fox sit on my wellies while I fed them. I handed pieces of meat to the Cheetahs up close while other zoo visitors looked on.
“I groomed a Tapir and spent time with the reindeer (their feet click to help them in the snow). It was the most amazing day.”
The zoo is fairly small compared to large commercial zoo’s, which has the advantage of having smaller animals, and also a beautiful setting in the rolling Exmoor hills. It’s not a zoo full of lions, giraffe’s and elephants – it is more the types of animals you never see, rarely know about and would never normally get to spend time with.
It’s not only educational and fun, but it’s also humbling to see these beautiful animals, birds, and reptiles happy and loved in such a perfect setting.