Visit to Whipsnade Zoo

Since we both had some time off work this week, we decided to go and visit Whipsnade Zoo.  The weather forecast was somewhat mixed and we got fairly lucky with a mixture of overcast, sun  and showers.  That’s reflected in the photos, and the reason they look so different.  You can view the full versions by clicking on them, then right click to view image.


This is a lynx, one of several types of large cat at the zoo.  It spent most of its time sitting there motionless save for the ears slowly turning like radar.

Here you can see the bears looking thoroughly fed up with the seagulls stealing their food.  There was a whole row of gulls up on the fence too, and behind them a whole row of crows.

This guy was the true MVP of the day, standing on his rock squawking constantly at the bears.

Next to the bear enclosure was a sign saying “Wolverine”.  I’ve never seen a wolverine before, but I’m familiar with the comic book character.  I was expecting something large and ferocious, the reality is a small bear-like creature which ran around like a giant squirrel.

Penguins are always good, the one having his or her head scratched looked completely content with the world.

They were having their pond refilled, this guy (one of several who emerged from under the same bush like a clown car), took a very, very long time to consider stepping over the red pipe.

The chimps didn’t seem to feel like spending time out in the open, it was pretty grey at the time.  This one was sat near the gates like a sentry, the rest were in a covered area trying to get food which had been hidden inside barrels hanging from the ceiling.

Most of the lemurs were fighting over a single stick, except for these two who seemed more interested in just cuddling each other and posing for the cameras.

Whipsnade offers “meet the animals” experiences, where visitors get to feed or meet some of the animals. We had wanted to do this but all of the places had been booked for the day.

Giraffes have really gentle faces.

It was quite hard  to get good photos of the rhinos, this was taken from so far away that I could barely make them out.  The photo really doesn’t convey how large they are, as tall as an average human adult.

Another animal which looks deceptively small in the photos is the hippopotamus, this one was just lazing in the sun while mother and calf were in their (incredibly smelly) watering enclosure.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get any photos in there due to where they were sitting.

Near the hippo enclosure is the cheetah habitat.  There are a couple of ways to view this, and the cheetah had deliberately hidden behind some tall grass making itself invisible to the main viewing area.

These are scimitar-horned oryx.  Until recently they were extinct in the wild for the usual reason of humans hunting them to extinction.  Time to inject some “real talk” – go and look up a graph of human population versus extinctions.  Now come back and tell me with a straight face that you don’t think human population is a problem.

Lions spend 20 hours a day sleeping ideally.  This is a lifestyle choice I can definitely get behind.

This meerkat was particularly well-behaved and didn’t try to sell me car insurance even once.  Probably a UK joke.

Looking at these zebras makes my eyes go funny, it’s like crossing a horse with an optical illusion.

These are guar, and they’re the largest species of cow – taller than an average human.

Whipsnade has a small herd of Asian elephants, I’m a big fan of elephants and donate monthly to the WWF.

This is what we call the “rubbing your ass on a huge log” dance.  Several baby elephants have been born at Whipsnade over the years.

He’s not strong enough  to move these logs on chains yet, but that wasn’t going to stop him trying.  I missed the photo opportunity but shortly after this he decided that climbing over the silver barrels was the way to go and it was hilarious.

A smaller breed of rhino but it looks like they’re wearing suits of armour.  There were some camels in the paddock just past here but the only way to see them is from the train which runs through the park.  You have to pay extra for this and we’d already spent nearly £90 for two people.

A fully grown dwarf crocodile, I still don’t think I would want to feed it by hand though.

The crocodile lives in an enclosure inside the butterfly room.  It’s incredibly humid inside but you can walk around with the butterflies and it’s not unknown for them to land on visitors, so there’s a note to check yourself on the way out.

I took a few pictures of the butterflies because they were so pretty.

I liked the way its wings were kind of backlit in this photo.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a good photo of the large blue ones which were as big as my hand, as soon as they landed they completely folded their wings up.  My one good opportunity was ruined by a small child running towards it and scaring it away.  This is why we can’t have nice things.

Lots of geese,  some storks (which have an excellent funny walk John Cleese would be proud of),  and an extremely laid-back pelican.

Lots of flamingos, this is about half of them. I’d never really appreciated how absurd they look, especially standing on one leg with their head tucked under their wing.

It started to rain while we were looking at the flamingos, and I really like how this photo came out.  The zoo is almost laid out with a large ring road through the middle, and this was almost our last stop although we’d taken an odd roundabout route by car and foot.

After wasting 20 minutes searching the tiger enclosure for an actual tiger, we actually found one in the small holding enclosure next door.  Hard to get a good photo with all that wire mesh in the way, I prefer to see them out and about.

As we got back to the car I could hear a strange motorbike rumble sound.  Unexpected emus!  This area  looked like it was empty when we’d parked there, it must have been feeding time.  I have no idea how they make this noise, but it’s awesome.

And that was it for the day, if you visit Whipsnade I would recommend taking your car in. It does cost extra to do this rather than park outside and stay on foot all day, but it’s really convenient to be able to move around more easily, and a special car-only route takes you past some herds of deer like a mini Safari.

Oh, and I’d like to thank the operators of the M1 motorway who thought it was funny to keep varying the speed limit between each sign.