Day out: Cotswold Wildlife Park

17 Jan

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live in a giant old house — mansion — sort of a palace — and to invite members of the public to visit.  To keep on living in one area of the house but to look out the bathroom window in the morning and think “oh, look, Americans in the garden again, I must talk to the gardener about that.”  Or, if you lived here, rhinos:

Where is here?  The Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens.  The park is open year round except December 25th, and we had a great term-break day out rummaging through this private wildlife park.

The owners no longer live here, but the park guide is filled with endearing stories from the elderly owner, who remembers when the marmoset area was a vegetable garden, the reptile house was the stables, and the ostrich enclosure was a golf course.  We all have memories like that, don’t we.

Rhinos on the front lawn; reindeer on the back.  That’s just the way it’s done.

Another benefit of ownership is being able to keep horribly dangerous and totally awesome playground features in place, even when the staff tells you it is a baaaad and crazy idea:Best.Treehouse.Ever.

You might even keep the gruesomely wonderful, nearly Bloggess-worthy playground ride-on horse:

Ride with me … TO HELL

Probably my absolute favorite animal in the park was the pallas cat, who has the creepiest  Cheshire Cat grin I’ve ever seen.  I couldn’t get a photo (he kept disappearing) but he looks like this:


Only ours was grinning.  Grinning like this:

There’s a train ride around the park — an excellent way to get a sense of the park’s size and beauty —

And enjoy more of the Willy-Wonka weirdness

We saw the turkiest turkey I have ever seen

Given that it was a few days before Christmas, and everyone in England eats turkey for Christmas dinner, the holiday decorations seemed … slightly insensitive.

Ah, the chupacabra.  I mean R.O.U.S.s.  I mean, of course, capybara.  They are not cute.  Imagine a rabid hamster that weighs 150 pounds.  Look at that mara in the doorway.  It was freezing outside, but he wasn’t going in there with the chupacabra.  He knows.  Back away slowly.

There is  a fine line between love and pecking out your eyeballs.

This is a magpie goose.  Not to be confused with a magpie duck, or a regular magpie.  This is now officially my favourite kind of goose, because when I leaned in to take a photo, it edged up charmingly to whisper something in my nose, and then attacked my camera.  This provided a jolt of adrenalin that reminded me I was alive and bonded me to this goose forever.  Everyone should have a favorite goose.

Canadian timber wolves  Gorgeous.  This is a female.  She kept eyes glued to us as we walked softly past on a raised wooden walkway surrounded by barbed wire and electrified fences.  I assume a keeper was locked inside the bunker underneath her, and she was waiting her chance for him to come out, or one of us to fall in.  It was thrilling.

The vicious wolverine!  Terrifying!  Maddening!  X-Men-worthy!  Well, all right, this guy was just kind of sleepy.  He’s even cute.

We ended our day with a trip to the ‘walled garden’ which is now filled with the highest concentration of cuteness and adorability in this whole area of the Cotswolds.

Smile and wave, Boys, smile and wave.

I am the king, and I jump so fast you can’t take a picture with your puny camera. ~King Julian

…cuteness … fuzzes … focus …

Meerkats — is there a British obsession with meerkats I didn’t know about?  Anyway, they were mesmerising.

There’s a full-bodied lunchroom at the park, and a gift shop with those terrible plastic heads of animals on sticks that you pull a lever and open their mouths and then the mouths fall out five minutes after you’ve bought them, and your children cry  — and we didn’t even get to see the lions and giraffes, and I don’t have good photos of the giant anteaters (those things are crazy!), the many birds, the goats, rabbits, chickens, pigs, red pandas, the sloth, the reptiles … this has been a very silly post but we did have a wonderful day out and I hope we’ll go back when it warms up.

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14 Responses to “Day out: Cotswold Wildlife Park”

  1. Andrea January 18, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    I’m speechless!

  2. greatscott3 January 18, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

    That’s it. I’ve decided that I love you. You mentioned Wolverine, Willy Wonka, chupacabra and R.O.U.Ss in the same post. I can’t stand it. LOVE for you – big, twisted, sci-fi love. And speaking of big love – that cat was insane. was it real? wow! really want to go here – definitely on the list!!!

    • Monique January 20, 2012 at 11:37 pm #

      Hee hee hee, you made my day with this comment! The cat IS insane. If you go here: http://www.cotswoldwildlifepark.co.uk/news-events/births-arrivals.php and scroll down down down to Summer Update, you’ll see a parent and kitten pallas cat from the park. For some unknown reason the cat had mouth open grinning (hissing? talking?) when we walked by, and my mind has been blown ever since. =)

  3. Sarah January 19, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    I’m a bit speechless, as well. I can’t believe this place exists. But I should believe it.

    • Monique January 20, 2012 at 11:34 pm #

      It may appear perfectly normal to anyone else visiting, but I assure you, to me it was fantasmagorical. That pallas cat set the tone …

  4. krisgal January 31, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    Oh fun! This place isn’t far from me, I’m waiting for Tess to get a bit older before we take her there.

    • Monique January 31, 2012 at 5:14 pm #

      =) She’ll have a blast. The animals are amazing and the park itself is beautiful.

  5. Sally July 22, 2012 at 6:51 am #

    I visited the Cotswold Wildlife Park many times when I was a child. The train and the adventure playground were the highlights for me – and the white rhino. These days my own children insist we visit every summer. They are now teens but the appeal doesn’t lessen. I now adore the beautiful planting schemes of the flower beds and the tranquillity even when it’s busy. How lovely to see it in winter – truly a very special place.

    • Monique July 22, 2012 at 8:10 am #

      How wonderful. You remind me that we should go back this summer, and see the park in bloom. I love places that grow with one, with something to appreciate at every age and every season.

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