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Monkey tour, tea and a bite » Paradise Wildlife Park

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  #1
Wink Monkey tour, tea and a bite
Old 23-05-2012

For Christmas myself and my partner were given a gift voucher for Paradise Wildlife Park, a monkey tour, feed the lemurs and afternoon tea. Had a look of various voucher sites and retail for 49 for 1 but mostly all of them were doing BOGOFs.

We finally got round to booking it! as my partner was very reluctant to visit again after its connections with a certain CB

Follows a short review of our experience.

We arrived a couple of hours early as park entry is included, currently 16 (mid season) an adult which personally we think is very over priced (children 2 -15 is 13!!!). We did visit several years ago and apart from the new entrance, a strange manned gate system to cross the road and a new cafe by the tiger nothing had changed and we whizzed round very quickly. (We also avoided anything that we may see on the tour) Thought it strange to place the entrance by the children's area.

Our tour started at 12.30, we also saw a big cat tour of about 20 people going round. Our tour included 18 people (can be up to 24) and started with refreshments and a EAZA DVD of endangered apes (none of which are at Paradise). A second tour followed ours. They had adverts saying they were the no1 in the country for animal experiences, they certainly do ALOT!! Not sure if this is to the benefit of the animals
Animal Experiences at Paradise Wildlife ParkAnimal Experiences at Paradise Wildlife Park

Lemurs were first, the keeper doing the tour was very good and included lots of information both on the species and the individual animals including the names. Millie the mother of 9 sets of twins (ring tail lemur) now mate less, came with tales of biting and her dislike for people.
Moved on to the squirrell monkeys a all male group that were bullied out of Colchester zoo.
Then moved on to the tropical house, viewing with such a large group was difficult and took time to see what he was talking about after he had moved on.

Then strangely we got the chance to hold an armadillo which was housed with a sloth and ?I think some marmosets! Surprising heavy and remained curled up, apparently they use bacteria in their mouths similar to a komodo dragon? This is where I was very disappointed with the lack of hygiene no opportunity was given or advice to gel/wash hands. I always carry gel (I work in a hospital and are very infection control aware!). We both gelled both our own and again when we passed the zoos dispensers.
Gibbons were next.

We then went back to the ring tail lemur to go in with them and feed them, again no gel/hand washing was suggested even though we had all held the armadillo that had been in a mixed enclosure!

The lemur cage was very tiny for 7 lemurs and 19 people we were all given apple and the lemurs were let out. When we 1st arrived people were already in with the lemurs having an experience, so I assume this is very routine for them!!

Lots of photo opportunities, lots of lemurs bouncing off you, their wasn't enough seating for everyone so they were springing on you from everywhere.
Millie the wayward mother was certainly playing up, after giving one girl a small nip, she knocked the glasses of another man. I saw her poised to spring at me and put my arm up as she was heading for my face/front and she promptly dug her claws into my arm and bit it!! Not a huge bite but enough to draw blood. The keeper apologised and offered a plaster after


We then headed back for our afternoon tea ( a good spread). When we got there the use of a small single toilet was offered for handwashing, very few took up the offer and headed in to eat . I gave my arm a very good scrub, I know we are all adults but I was shocked by the lack of worry about basic hygiene.

After on our last walk round we saw someone doing a feed the tiger experience and he was just holding the raw meat, no gloves!!

To sum up, the experiences are very popular and am sure they bring in a lot of money and visitors who would not normally have heard of Paradise Wildlife park. Not sure where the monkeys were (squirrell??) and I think some people were expecting chimps and orang utans and the biggest they got was a gibbon.
I now have a bite mark and a tale to tell of my attack by a wild animal!
Keeper was good, and basic tour interesting zoo was not and hygiene risk to both public and animals not good
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  #2
Old 23-05-2012

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Originally Posted by karenZOO View Post
.
I now have a bite mark and a tale to tell of my attack by a wild animal!
Keeper was good, and basic tour interesting zoo was not and hygiene risk to both public and animals not good
Surprised they still allow this particular Lemur to interact with the public like that.

Re Hygeine- varies hugely between places. At West Midlands, I was concerned to see Antelope(which can carry nasty diseases) poking their heads into the cars to be fed pelleted food, and trailing streams of Saliva- if that gets on childrens' hands and they then suck their fingers without washing it off, they could catch all sorts of things.

Noah's Ark on the other hand seem quite obsessive about hygeine, there are even notices above the washbasins showing the correct method to wash your hands!!! Guess its better to be safe than sorry...
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  #3
Old 23-05-2012

I'm also surprised about that lemur still being able to interact with the public like that. Just looked at the link you provided for the tours and the minimum age is only 10 years for the 'meet the lemurs' experience so what if she had done that to a 10 year old! Hmmm.
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  #4
Old 24-05-2012

I don't wish to be a killjoy, but anyone who has serious health and safety concerns about a zoo in the UK should report them to the local authority who have issued the zoo's licence: I would recommend alerting the zoo before doing this.

Alan
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  #5
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Old 25-05-2012

Hi

Me and my boyfriend have also done the Monkey Tea recently and go to Paradise a lot. I have to disagree with you on some things though as we really enjoyed. The keeper doing our tour was very informative and he obviously knows his animals very well and really cares about them, I noticed he carried a hand gel on his belt and there where lots of dispensers dotted round the zoo too (there were a whole block of toilets next door to the building we had tea in- as well as the single one in the building).

We also met the armadillo- I think he was referring to the sloth having large amounts of bacteria in their mouths, I know sloths are known for their dangerous bite but I've never heard of that from an armadillo? Also, the two species share a territory so I thought it was quite normal to be housed together.

With the lemur experience- I spoke to the keeper (can't remember his name) for a while about the 'problem' female as animal behaviour really interests me. Her name is Penelope and is the youngest daughter about a year old. They usually find with females about that age go through a 'stroppy' phase which they grow out of. Luckily she didn't bite anyone in our group but he explained she doesn't do it in an aggressive way it's more of an attention-seeking nibble. On another note I actually thought there enclosure was very spacious and the people on the tour only took up a tiny bit of space giving the 8 lemurs plenty on places to go if they didn't want contact. The experience was all on their terms- they didn't have to come over if they didn't want to and a few of them didn't!

With people expecting chimps and orangs- for a start they are apes and not monkeys and this is a monkey tour- lots of marmosets and tamarins and the squirrel monkeys. I thought seeing other primates like the gibbons and lemurs was an unexpected bonus. Also if they'd have looked at the parks website they'd see that they don't house any great apes.

SO in my opinion the tour was great- didn't notice any huge hygiene issues but I'm no expert on cross-contamination.I'd really recommend it for monkey lovers like me
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  #6
Old 26-05-2012

Thanks for all the replies and welcome to zoochat zoogirl2012, hope you enjoy it.

I don't blame the lemur at all, after all we were all invading it's enclosure. If they do 2 x tours of up to 24 people plus feeding experiences a day these lemurs are very different from the ones I have experienced in walkthrough that mostly just ignore the public. Obviously interaction is encouraged as this is what visitors expect from an experience, I wasn't expecting to feed them (not read the details).

I do think the enclosures at Paradise are all very small, I don't know if a lot of these were already in situ when the current owners took over but the lemur ones are new, (I thin?) I think less different species and bigger enclosures.

All walkthrough enclosures I have visited have always had gel dispensers at the exits and clear wash your hand signs, you did have to search them out at the lemurs, as a visitors experience I think this is a must, but that's my opinion it must have to pass H&S regulations but working in a hospital infection control is part of my everyday and a priority.

Pertinax I do not like the animal feeding from cars at West Midlands, the children in cars love it I know but you do get mobbed the minute you wind down your window (a must to take photos). Also they then all block the roads surrounding the cars, would rather see them on the grass grazing than picnicing from cars. ewww don't even get me started on the antelope drool

Zoogirl2012 if you are a regular zoo goer you will know most people call all apes, monkeys lol I walk quickly away now before my partner starts 'educating' them
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  #7
Old 27-05-2012

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Originally Posted by karenZOO View Post

Pertinax I do not like the animal feeding from cars at West Midlands, the children in cars love it I know but you do get mobbed the minute you wind down your window (a must to take photos). Also they then all block the roads surrounding the cars, would rather see them on the grass grazing than picnicing from cars. ewww don't even get me started on the antelope drool
Yes, I think it detracts hugely from the enjoyment of seeing them behaving naturally but there we are.

As for the 'health' aspect, there was a time (1970's) when some antelope herds in UK were discovered to have contracted forms of BSE from their pelleted foodstuffs. Not saying any at West Mids are derived from these, but its an example of what can happen. Maybe they are all screened nowadays before that sort of contact with people is allowed, I wouldn't know but I sure hope so...
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  #8
Monkey tour, tea & a bite
Old 28-05-2012

The scariest ungulate 'contact' I have seen in a zoo was many years ago in a traffic jam at Longleat. A camel [can't remember which species] had stuck its head through the window of a car and was inspecting a baby on the back seat. Camel slobber dripping on to a baby... fortunately the line of cars started to move and the camel withdrew its head.
Aggression from Ring-tailed Lemurs. In one of Gavin Maxwell's books he relates how his 'pet' [attitudes to what constitutes a suitable house pet have moved on a little since then] Ring-tail opened an artery in his leg in what could have been a fatal attack -- never underestimate a primate!
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  #9
Old 28-05-2012

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Originally Posted by FBBird View Post
Aggression from Ring-tailed Lemurs. In one of Gavin Maxwell's books he relates how his 'pet' [attitudes to what constitutes a suitable house pet have moved on a little since then] Ring-tail opened an artery in his leg in what could have been a fatal attack -- never underestimate a primate!
Especially where these animals have continual contact with large numbers of visitors, individuals can become over-confident and more demanding/aggressive than normal, which seems the case with this one.
 


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