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A Day in Enfield - Cedars Nature Centre and Capel Manor Gardens Review

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by amur leopard, 3 Aug 2022.

  1. amur leopard

    amur leopard Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    This afternoon I visited two collections in the North of London for the first time, so I thought it appropriate to do a double review of the zoos, particularly since Cape Manor in particular may not have been visited by many others on the site, given its only recent appearance on Zootierliste.

    Capel Manor Gardens

    This is a fairly small collection as it is set in the larger gardens of an environmental college in Enfield, a fairly short Overground ride from Central London. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, but Zootierliste indicated a lovely mammal collection, with Palm civet, Jerboa and Acacia rat.

    The Gardens themselves are tricky to navigate but fairly pleasant, with a number of themed gardens but not much signage indicating the names of the plants. The 'zoo' area of the gardens is set within a corner of the gardens. As you arrive at the perimeter of the zoo, you come to a fairly well-planted aviary for an odd mix of African sacred ibis and Fantail pigeons. Making one's way around the edge, you can see Meerkats in a fairly standard set-up. Entering the perimeter, one is confronted with a couple of paddocks for goats and sheep. Further on is a grassy paddock for Bennett's wallaby, as well as an 'Animal Care Centre' with four outdoor aviaries attached for a pair of Striped skunks, a Ducorp's cockatoo, Western carrion crow and Prevost's squirrel, all in well-furnished exhibits, if a bit on the small side.

    Further on is a nice set-up for a single male Scottish wildcat, as well as a paddock for Patagonian mara, a typical Ring-tailed lemur exhibit and a small aviary for Regent parrots and Eastern rosellas. As there was no sign of any of the promised lifers yet, I was relieved to see a large building up ahead. Unfortunately, the building was in fact closed to the public and only offered up a few terraria viewable from the outside in the so-called 'Tropical' area. These terraria held Chinese water dragon, Burmese python, Ornate monitor, Red eared slider and a mixed exhibit for Green iguana and Red footed tortoise. The terraria were generally well-furnished but were all too small and reflections on the glass made it almost impossible to see the animals, let alone get satisfactory pictures. I continued my search for the civets and rodents. On the second loop around the collection I noticed a couple of windows into a behind the scenes area, within which were apparently (according to rather blurry zoomed in images I took) the entirety of the small mammals. As it was impossible to view their exhibits, let alone the animals themselves, due to the now almost aggressively reflective glass, I gave up trying to peer in and promptly left the gardens.

    As I was leaving, I remembered that Cedars Nature Centre, which I had never visited, was within a half-hour walk of the gardens, so made my way there on an unplanned visit, with the main objective of course to see the Zorillas.

    Below is a species list for Capel Manor (off-show list incomplete as I couldn't make out all the labels on the exhibits):

    On-show: Meerkat, Patagonian mara, Bennett's wallaby, Scottish wildcat, Striped skunk, Prevost's squirrel, Rabbit, Ring-tailed lemur; Sacred ibis, Eastern rosella, Carrion crow, Ducorp's cockatoo, Regent parrot; Chinese water dragon, Burmese python, Ornate monitor, Red footed tortoise, Red eared slider, Green iguana.

    Off-show: Gray short-tailed opossum, Golden hamster, Degu, Lesser hedgehog tenrec, Sugar glider (definitely more).


    Cedars Nature Centre

    Just a half hour walk away is Cedars Nature Centre. While it was initially hard to find due to a lack of signage upon entering the park, it was immediately clear that the centre was a lovely place with some amazing species. It was essentially just a small courtyard surrounded by animal exhibits. Going around anticlockwise, I saw a pair of Barn owls and Northern white-faced scops owl in separate nice aviaries as well as some Brazilian guinea pigs, followed by the big draw - the pair of Zorillas (who would have stayed hidden all visit but for a very kind keeper) in a nice exhibit with lots of hiding places, with the only issue from my perspective being the mesh viewing making it very difficult not only photograph but also view the animals. Then came a Striped skunk exhibit, an exhibit for Meerkats, a nice large aviary for Kookaburras and finally the small but very nicely done Tropical House. While it didn't have very many tropical animals, the house had some lovely species, including Palestina spiny mouse (a rarity in Europe) and the tenrecs that I had missed hardly an hour prior. After twenty or so minutes, I had gotten great views of every animal in the zoo except for the Zorillas. One of the keepers told me that the Zorilla feeding time was around 11-12 (despite the signage indicating feeding towards the end of the day) but very kindly offered to give them some worms and see if they came out. I was lucky and both Ziggy (the male) and Stardust (the female) ventured out of their hiding places. I was able to watch these beautiful animals for over ten minutes and left the zoo very pleased with the experience.


    Below is a species list on-show at Cedars as of 03/08/22:

    Brazilian guinea pig, Chilean chinchilla, Lesser hedgehog tenrec, Meerkat, Palestina spiny mouse, Southern three banded armadillo, Striped skunk, Sub-Saharan pygmy mouse, Zorilla; Northern white-faced scops owl, Barn owl, Laughing kookaburra; Burmese python, Central bearded dragon, Dwarf bearded dragon, Pancake tortoise, Royal python; Koi, rainbowfish sp.

    Conclusion and comparison

    In general, Capel Manor was fairly disappointing in most respects, with mostly mediocre exhibits and only their most common animals on show. The gardens were, however, pleasant, even for someone with no more than a passing interest in plants.

    Cedars was both similar in terms of scale and exhibitry (in parts) but the major difference was the 'tropical house' and the collection, which together meant I left Cedars itching to revisit and see how they're doing in a few years' time (particularly given it was only opened in 2016). Capel Manor wasn't bad, but it was lacking in some areas and the disappointment with regards to the collection didn't help - I likely won't be returning any time in the near future but that is probably more a function of the collection than anything else.

    For those visiting Cedars in the near future or contemplating it, I'd advise visiting just before lunchtime as this is when the Zorillas are fed :). If anyone is passing by and thinking about visiting Capel Manor in addition to Cedars, I wouldn't bother - admission is £8 in comparison to £2 at Cedars, for fewer and less interesting species. I don't regret my own visit however, as it adds two species to my European Challenge tally :p.
     
  2. pipaluk

    pipaluk Well-Known Member 10+ year member

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    Thank you for posting these reviews, I visited both one day a month or so ago.
    I love Cedars, the staff are always friendly and helpful in showing you the animals (including off show ones).
    I think the biggest problem with Capel Manor is the price, not necessarily the species it holds and I think in terms of number it possibly holds more. In terms of species, yes most are common, but doesn't Cedars have such 'rarities' as meerkat, Skunk, kookaburra, the owls.....
    Just think you were a bit harsh on Capel Manor, it isn't good value at £8, but I don't think Cedars would be at that price either-the spiny mice and zorilla aside.
     
  3. amur leopard

    amur leopard Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    Perhaps, but doesn't disregarding the zorillas and spiny mice warp things just a bit :p?
    In all seriousness, I don't think Capel Manor is bad or anything but I just wish they even just a few of their small mammals on show - there's so much more they could have done with the space and species they have, not to mention the entry fee, that I found it somewhat amusing that Cedars left me feeling much more 'fulfilled' with the visit despite only having a tiny site at their disposal (even disregarding the zorillas, honestly).
     
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  4. Lafone

    Lafone Well-Known Member

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    Another thanks for the review - on my list to visit. One of the things I like the most about zoo chat is finding new places to visit or reading information about collections or specific animals posted by knowledgeable people like yourself that inspire a trip.
     
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  5. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member 15+ year member Premium Member

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    I visited Capel Manor Gardens yesterday for the first time; it doesn't seem to have changed much since your visit last year.

    I agree with you about these exhibits. On a very bright sunny afternoon, there was so much reflection on the glass, it was virtually impossible to see any of the reptiles in these terraria.

    However I was extremely pleased to see a wild grass snake slithering around in one of the gardens; that more than compensated for not seeing any of the reptiles in the collection.

    (Incidentally I was also very interested to see the albino carrion crow too.)
     
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  6. Dassie rat

    Dassie rat Well-Known Member 10+ year member

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    I went to the gardens Capel Manor years ago before the animal collection was there. Nearby was a garden centre with a small pet centre, including some mammals. Is it still there?