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.
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:
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:
There’s a train ride around the park — an excellent way to get a sense of the park’s size and beauty —
We saw the turkiest turkey I have ever seen
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.
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.
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.
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.