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LaughingDove’s Trip Through Europe – Summer 2015

Discussion in 'Europe - General' started by LaughingDove, 21 Jul 2015.

  1. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    On the 5th of July I left Warsaw to start my summer holiday in the UK with my parents and brother. However rather than flying as we did when we lived in Saudi Arabia in previous years, because we are now living in Warsaw, we decided to drive.

    The first day of driving was from Warsaw to Berlin which is just under 600 km or just over 360 miles. Poznan was roughly halfway so was used as a lunch stop before crossing into Germany where the roads got… worse. The best road of the whole drive (including the UK) was the highway in Poland from Warsaw to the German border (though it did have quite a few tolls).

    The next day was my visit to Tierpark Berlin. The Berlin public transport system was very good so I had no problem getting there for opening time. My parents and brother dropped me off and picked me up so they saw the black bears (which can be seen without going into the zoo) and decided that was enough animals for them for the summer so left me to go around the zoo by myself. Tierpark Berlin really needs two days to see everything (as many of you will know) but my parents were fairly reluctant to start with to give me a full day in each of the Zoo and Tierpark so I would have to see as much as possible in one day at each. I’ll probably visit Berlin again in the next few years before I leave Poland so I should be able to see any of the bits I miss in a future visit but TeaLovingDave had kindly given me lots of advice of how to make the most the time I had, so I think I saw as much as I could in one day.

    After Tierpark Berlin was a day visiting the Zoo and the Aquarium, followed by a drive to Walsrode (Germany), then visiting the Weltvogelpark, then a drive to Amsterdam (The Netherlands), then a visit to Artis, then a drive to Bruges (Belgium) where we only stopped for only one night before driving to Calais and taking the channel tunnel (where we went back in time :p) the next morning.
     
  2. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    There is already a lot about Tierpark Berlin on the forums so I’ll just give my thoughts and opinions here. Overall, I liked it. Of course there are sub-standard bits, namely some of the enclosures in the Alfred-Brehm Haus and the sun bear enclosures – which are awful, but there are lots of good bits too. I liked the highland area because of the layout and the range of species and I thought the crocodile house was very well done. The vulture aviary and the gull aviary were really good too. There were lots of very nice birds in the pheasantry and I would have loved more time than I had to watch them. The free-roaming pelicans were another nice feature, as was the huge open area with camel paddocks, the nice wooded enclosures with the deer and various other hoofstock and the general gardens, landscaping and woodland areas – though I didn’t have the time to enjoy these areas as I could have. And as much as people criticise the ABH, it has lots of cool species and some nice enclosures on the inside – the same is true with the elephant house.

    So although some sub-standard to really bad enclosures brought the overall enclosure quality of the Tierpark down, there are many very good bits and I think it is unfair to completely rule out Tierpark as a good zoo because of these areas. Tierpark gets a lot more criticism than other places in Europe (For example, I visited Ostrava Zoo this year and the carnivore building AKA the India House was worse than the ABH for enclosure size and quality in my opinion) and if you look at the overall picture, it really is a brilliant zoo. Not without faults by any means, but brilliant anyway.
     
  3. lintworm

    lintworm Moderator Staff Member

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    I think one of the main things why TP Berlin always remains controversial is that some people find it one of the best zoos around, while others dislike it, because of missing enrichment (getting a thing of the past now) and the bad enclosures for several species. What also does not help is that there has been no species reduction in the ABH in recent years, but more individuals were added (new java leopards, new sumatran tigers, clouded leopards), whereas there is not really space for them...

    But I also really enjoyed my visit in May and I think this zoo will improve quite a bit in the coming years.
     
  4. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    The next day I visited Berlin Zoo and Aquarium. I got a combined ticket for both and went into the aquarium from inside the zoo so they aren’t two separate places in my head. The smaller size of the zoo meant I could see most of it in one day, though I did have to rush the aquarium a bit more than I would have liked. I thought the Zoo was better than the Tierpark overall, there weren’t any enclosures that were completely awful as there were in the Tierpark, though some of the paddocks for hoofstock were a bit on the small side and there were some rather small enclosures in the carnivore house and nocturnal house. The bird collection was another highlight with some really fantastic species, the pheasantry was very nice, but the bird house wasn’t. The visitor areas were too clinical and too much space was wasted on them that could have been used better for bigger aviaries for the birds. The walkthrough bits were good though and this – along with the great range of species – made up for the rather ugly bird house. The aquarium was brilliant, as was the hippo house and there were lots of very nice aviaries such as the condors, sea birds and waders. Most of the other bits were pretty average, barring those mentioned above

    Some very nice enclosures mixed in with some more average ones, a very extensive and diverse collection including rarities makes Berlin Zoo a really fantastic zoo which I would rank slightly above the Tierpark. It is definitely the best general zoo I have been to and Weltvogelpark Walsrode which I visited the next day only beat it due to my particularly interest in birds.

    I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to both of Berlin’s zoos and I saw hundreds of species I had never seen before with particular highlights being the Ruby-topaz Hummingbird, Marco Polo Sheep, Gerenuk, Harpy Eagle, Rusty-barred Owl, Catbird, Manucode, Springhare, Tuatara, Fruitcrow and lots more.
     
  5. Pleistohorse

    Pleistohorse Well-Known Member

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    Marco Polo Sheep must have been an awesome sight. I enjoyed your reviews of two zoos I've always wanted to visit. Thanks.
     
  6. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    After my day at Berlin Zoo was quite a relaxed day which I was looking forward to after two long and tiring (though very enjoyable) days of zoos. There was no rush to get up early because we had a fairly short drive of around 330 km which is just over 200 miles. Looking at the road signs was fun because I saw many cities that I recognised because of the zoo :D though I couldn’t help but be slightly disappointed that we weren’t stopping at them. If I had my way, the drive to the UK would take months, stopping at hundreds of zoos on the way! The other cool thing about the drive was that we went on some roads with no speed limit.

    The next day was spent in Weltvogelpark Walsrode and I had a further three hours the next morning before the drive to Amsterdam. I have written my thoughts about the Weltvogelpark on this thread: http://www.zoochat.com/109/thoughts-weltvogelpark-walsrode-416171/ where I have gone into a bit more detail than I did with Berlin.
     
  7. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    After Walsrode, we drove to Amsterdam in the Netherlands with the second border crossing of the trip. It wasn’t a very long drive, not as long as Warsaw to Berlin, but longer than Berlin to Walsrode. However because I had a few hours in the Weltvogelpark that morning, we got there fairly late.

    The next day was my visit to Artis Zoo and I have already written about this on a picture here: http://www.zoochat.com/160/large-model-micropia-416259/ so I will just copy it over.



    I really liked Micropia (a bacteria exhibit, see pictures in the gallery for more details). I loved the interactive bits too and there is a lot to look at. It's a completely different concept to any exhibits I have seen or even heard of before. Do any other zoos have anything like it? I wasn't sure what to expect really before going to it but it exceeded my expectations and I was very impressed despite the fact that there were no animals apart from a small fish tank and some ants. A very cool exhibit.

    In terms of the zoo overall. For the most part, what they have is done well I thought. The standard of the enclosures was good overall with notable exceptions being the lion and elephant exhibits which were awful and some rather small enclosures in the small mammal house. The other enclosure that I didn't really like was the paddock for domestic hoofstock that you see when you first enter the zoo. It looks ugly to my eyes and is too small with a lot of wasted space with the moat so I think it makes a bit of a poor first impression. Maybe for the average zoo visitor it doesn't have this effect if they are not bothered whether the animals are domestics or not.

    I thought that most exhibits were to a very high standard though, with the rainforest and bird house being fantastic as was the aquarium, the pheasantry, the butterfly garden and quite a few of the other areas. I thought the size of enclosures in the reptile house was good too, compared to many places that have very small reptile enclosures.

    As well as the animal exhibits there were a few non-animal things such as the planetarium which I am in two minds over. I didn't watch any of the shows in the planetarium but I thought it was an interesting idea for something to add to a zoo, however I did get the feeling that it was a waste of space that I would be all for in a zoo with loads of space but in such a small zoo as Artis... maybe space better used for animal exhibits. I had similar thoughts about Micropia too, though it's not really in the zoo (just outside the gate) so it didn't feel like such a waste of space for animal exhibits.

    Of course there weren't so many rarities compared to Walsrode or Berlin that I had visited in the days previously to visiting Artis but for the very small size of the zoo, I thought the space was used very well. I wouldn't call it a world class zoo because of how the collection is limited by the small space so there isn't so much possibility for expansion or big open exhibits. But most of what they have is very well done! :)
     
  8. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    The next day we drove to Bruges where we only spent one night meaning I didn’t have the time to visit any zoos, and the day after we left early for our channel crossing. I had never done this crossing before so it was a very interesting experience of driving onto a train which then takes the half hour trip through the tunnel. Also, due to the time difference, we reached the UK before we left Calais :D. So far while I’ve been in the UK I’ve visited two zoos (Birdworld and The British Wildlife Centre) which I will write about on this thread, and there are plans to visit a couple more. And on the way back to Poland I will be visiting two Zoos.
     
  9. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    Did you realise the famous Port Lympne Wildlife Park is only a couple of miles from the channel tunnel at Folkestone? The sister park Howletts is only half an hour away too. Maybe you will do one or both if you are returning via the same route.
     
  10. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    I knew both were in Kent, so the same general area. I will be going back via the same route, but unfortunately I won't be able to visit either due to the fact that the rest of my family will be too impatient to wait while I visit :(.
    I visited Port Lympne December last year and Howletts summer 2011 so that's not so much of a disappointment.
     
  11. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    On the 16th of July (just over a week ago) I visited Birdworld and Underwaterworld near Farnham, Surrey and I quite liked the little collection overall. There were a few rarities in the collection such as White Woodpeckers, Crested Guans Pink Pigeons and few nice Turacos (Black-billed etc.), Splendid Glossy Starlings, Duyvenbode's Lories, Great Bustards, three Rainbow Lorikeet subspecies and more as well as a few more common species (of course it was nothing compared to Walsrode which I had visited not long before).
    [​IMG]
    Crested Guan
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    Splendid Glossy Starling
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    Black-billed Turaco
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    Pink Pigeon
    [​IMG]
    Duyvenbode's Lory

    (Split because of number of pictures)
     
  12. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    Part Two

    The place was nice looking in general and had some very nice areas such as an area of woodland fenced off with free-roaming pheasants and a nice area with a pond and various aviaries as well as the rather nice temperate house which makes a nice impression when you first enter.
    [​IMG]
    View near the entrance (entrance building with café/restaurant on the left with a bridge over the pond just out of the picture to get to it, and the temperate house just across the pond.)
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    View inside the Temperate House (this makes the enclosures seem smaller than they actually are, there is also a reasonably sized walk-through not pictured)
    [​IMG]
    Part of the Woodland Walk with free-ranging Pheasants

    One particularly attractive exhibit was ‘Penguin Beach’ home to African Penguins and themed after Robben Island in South Africa. It was planted with some plants native to the area and rather nicely done I thought, not too over-themed and it was fairly large and netted over the top with a raised pathway with boards that the visitors walk on (part of it can be seen in the second picture) with free flying Little Egrets, Speckled Pigeons, Black-crowned Night-herons, Red-winged Starlings, Sacred Ibis and Wattled Starlings as well as the African Penguins.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    The ‘boat’ is where you enter the enclosure through with some signage in the ‘boat’. Visitors then walk around the enclosure on the raised pathway that can be seen started at the ‘boat’.

    (Split because of number of pictures)
     
  13. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    Part Three

    Other rather nice bits were the fairly new walkthrough flamingo cove
    [​IMG]

    And the particularly nice seashore enclosure which is a netted over walkthrough that houses Redshanks, Crowned Plovers, Waldrapp ibis, Red-billed Chough, Black-winged Stilts, African Spoonbills, Pied Avocets, Inca Terns, Common Shelducks, Hamerkops, Northern Lapwings and Masked Lapwings.
    [​IMG]

    Within Birdworld is Jenny Wren Farm which is a small childrens farm with a range of domestic breeds (including some animals for sale) and this was a typical small farm park.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Views of Jenny Wren Farm

    Within the car park is a building that is Underwater World which is a small aquarium building home to a few small to medium sized tanks of both salt and fresh water with notable species being Upside-down Jellyfish, Pacu and a Florida Soft-shell Turtle as well as the main exhibit of the building which was a slightly small enclosure for African Dwarf Crocodiles
    [​IMG]
    Dwarf Crocodile Enclosure in Underwater World
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    View inside Underwater World (This is about a third of the tanks)

    Entry to Underwater World, Jenny Wren Farm and Birdworld were all included in one ticket.

    I liked Birdworld overall, not huge, but a very nice small collection with a few very nice species and some very nice exhibits. There were a few aviaries that were a bit too small such as those for the lorikeets and a rather ugly Kea enclosure, but nothing terribly bad and for the most part the enclosures were very good. There was a small flight show with just four species (Trumpeter Hornbills, Barn Owls, Kookaburras and Striated Caracaras) but it was quite good and there was viewing into a room with incubators for 70 Great Bustard eggs to be released in Salisbury plain (as well as a pair of adults that could be viewed) with signage explaining all about this which I thought was a very nice feature. A rather nice little collection.
     
  14. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    The British Wildlife Centre

    On Wednesday (22/07/2015) I visited the British Wildlife Centre in Surrey. It is a really nice collection of native British Wildlife in enclosures that are fantastic from the animals’ point of view. The collection has all Mustelid and Owl species that are found wild in the UK as well as 13 rodent species along with four deer species, two reptile species, shrews, foxes, buzzards and a few others. The general grounds are very nice too with a countryside setting and lots of nice greenery.

    The enclosures are very natural looking and seemed ideal for the inhabitants of them (apart from the owl and buzzard enclosures which were pretty average). This did however make viewing lots of the animals rather difficult and a lot of time is needed to watch and wait at the rodent enclosures to see anything. I also went around the area with the rodent enclosures just behind the keeper who was cleaning out the bedding and putting in the food – this proved the most effective technique for some of the more elusive voles and mice.

    Most of the rodent enclosures were comprised of a burrow area:
    [​IMG]
    And a main tank area:
    [​IMG]

    Many of the larger mammals had access to multiple enclosures through walkways such as these for pine martens:
    [​IMG]

    For many of the larger mammals though, the best way to see them was to go to the many feedings and talks throughout the day when the animals were guaranteed to show themselves. There were feeding times with keeper talks for Red Squirrels, Foxes (twice per day), Scottish Wild Cats (twice per day), Otters (twice per day), Red Deer, Hedgehogs, Badgers and Pine Martins. There was also an Owl Display.

    When you first enter the zoo you go through the two main indoor areas, those being the barn which is home to brown and black rats, house mice and the indoor areas for red fox and barn owls who also had access to outdoor areas.
    [​IMG]

    And after walking through the barn you come to the hedgerow area which is home to Field and Bank Voles, Harvest Mice, Rabbits, Hedgehogs, Yellow-necked Grass Mice, Wood Mice, Water Shrews, Stoats, Weasels, Terrapins (though not usually found in hedgerows) and also usually Moles, though there was a sign saying the Mole enclosure was temporarily empty.
    [​IMG]

    I thought that both of those areas were fantastic though they would have less appeal for non zoo enthusiasts who would want to see the animals out and about so while I was waiting for some of the more shy inhabitants of the enclosures to show themselves, several families walked straight through both of these areas, only stopping to look at the rabbits which were the only animals that stayed out and showed themselves for the whole time.

    (Split post because of number of pictures)
     
    Last edited: 26 Jul 2015
  15. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    British Wildlife Centre – Part 2

    Other enclosures that I thought were particularly good were the walkthrough enclosure with Mutjacs and Red Squirrels:
    [​IMG]

    And the Water Vole Enclosure:
    [​IMG]

    The zoo also has some large open areas, the ‘Deer Park’ is a large paddock that covers a considerable portion of the whole area and is home to Fallow Deer and Red Deer.
    [​IMG]

    And there are three nice large pools for European Otters that line one edge of the ‘Deer Park’, one of them can be seen here:
    [​IMG]

    There is also a section of the zoo that is called the ‘Wetlands Nature Reserve’. There are signs explaining that this area was once a field for cows but has since been turned into a wetland area and planted with native vegetation, there was a sign listing the wild bird species that have been seen there, including a few more unusual species. There was also a sign saying that Slow Worms had been released there and there are water voles being released into the area with a soft release cage with signs explaining what it is. There is also a boardwalk that goes around the wetland area:
    [​IMG]

    I have two complaints with the place overall, firstly, the difficulty that you have spotting some of the rodents. This wasn’t so much of a problem for me because I was happy to spend half an hour to an hour waiting for four unusual species of rodent to show themselves, but 90% of people aren’t going to do this for what is essentially four little brown mice.

    The second that I have is the lack of bird species. They have a very nice Owl collection and a couple of bird of prey species, but I really thought that a few more birds would really fit in well with the collection. I think Capercaillie would be a perfect addition that would suit very well with what is already there – as would any native ground bird. I also think that a duck pond with a few native waterfowl species would be a great addition. I could also see a few corvids or maybe a gull aviary fitting in excellently with the existing collection.

    Birds aside, I think that the British Wildlife Centre is a brilliant collection and I thoroughly enjoyed my half-day visit. Apart from the moles which were temporarily not there, I managed to see everything in the end with attending the various talks/feedings and some patient waiting.
    The highlight for me was the Pine Martens which were very active and I had plenty of opportunity to watch them. [​IMG] The British Wildlife Centre is definitely a fantastic collection of British Wildlife on very nice grounds.
     
    Last edited: 26 Jul 2015
  16. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    Beaver Water World: Visit 25/07/2015

    Beaver Water World is a very small zoo located in Kent. It is largely a rescue centre with lots of rescued birds and reptiles that are ex-pets. The signage is general was awful with many incorrectly signed things, many signs which were just marker pens on reptile tanks and there were lots of unsigned animals – especially in the bird aviaries where less than half of the animals were signed. The enclosure quality was poor overall; I would say they were all the bare minimum that could be considered acceptable. This is probably the closest place I have heard of in the UK to the roadside zoos of the US.

    A species list from my visit can be seen here: http://www.zoochat.com/38/current-species-list-beaver-water-world-418421/ and further pictures than the ones in the review can be seen here: Beaver Water World Gallery in the ZooChat Gallery. Because there is little on the forums other than what I have put up (and because it is tiny), I will do a full walkthrough.

    Beaver Water World is located in the Kent countryside, near to the village of Tatsfield. When you drive up, you see a road sign for ‘Reptile Zoo’ which points you down a tiny road where you come to the car park for a motorcycle shop, an aquarium shop and Beaver Water World.

    To access the zoo, you have to go into the aquarium shop which isn’t part of the zoo and you come to a little stand located inside the aquarium shop at the entrance to a passageway leading into Beaver Water World. This is where ‘tickets’ (the ‘tickets’ are actually just small stickers) are purchased for £5 for adults or £4 for children. You go into the passageway and come into the reptile area. It’s rather dark and small, and is made up of one central passageway going straight through and out of the reptile building with three passageways leading going off to dead ends. Below is one of the passageways in the reptile area:

    [​IMG]

    Most of the enclosures were rather small, bare and nondescript, such as this one for Uromastyx:
    [​IMG]

    This enclosure for a Burmese Python:
    [​IMG]

    Or these enclosures for small snakes and lizards which were signed as in need of rehoming:
    [​IMG]

    (Split because of number of pictures)
     
  17. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    Beaver Water World – Part 2

    After leaving the rather dingy reptile area you come out into the open in this area:

    [​IMG]
    Here, the reptile building and one (of three) of the meerkat enclosures can be seen on the left.

    Below is a picture of that particular Meerkat enclosure, I believe it was once home to an American Alligator which is now deceased and there is a sign saying the meerkats there will be joining one of the other meerkat groups and that enclosure will become a very much needed extension to the spectacled caiman’s enclosure which is tiny.
    [​IMG]

    You go through that area and into the main bit of the zoo where you see a small enclosure for a mallard and Indian Runner duck on your left and a reptile room that is only accessible to the keepers on your right, as well as a very small enclosure for tortoises and the main beaver pool straight ahead, this area is pictured below. I have a picture of each of the individual enclosures in the gallery, if people would like to look further.
    [​IMG]

    You turn around a corner, past the duck enclosure and come up to a small beaver enclosure just home to one individual and a red squirrel enclosure next door. You then go down through a little pathway between a muntjac enclosure and the main beaver pool:
    [​IMG]

    Before coming to the largest portion of the zoo where there are enclosures for raccoons, meerkats, harvest mice, a small play area, a koi pond and a duck pond on the left; and enclosures for a Crow, Cotton-top Tamarins, and Pygmy Marmosets on the right. Again, there are pictures of these enclosures in the gallery, I won’t put a picture of every enclosure here because that would require half a dozen posts and split the text up too much.

    Beyond this area is a small picnic lawn and enclosures for birds and small mammals (including ring-tailed lemurs) :
    [​IMG]

    And there are enclosures going all the way down to the end with a small, separate section leading off from there with aviaries signed for rehabilitating birds.

    You can then exit from here or go back around and go back out through the reptile building and aquarium shop.

    And that’s all there is to it. I spent just over an hour there, though the place could fairly easily be seen in 45 minutes or you could spend more there, though I’d be very bored by the two hour mark. I would recommend a visit if you have a spare hour or so and are in the area, though I wouldn’t go much out of the way for it, and if any zoochatter was to visit, I’d recommend carefully looking in each of the aviaries because in most of them, there is just one or two species signed and there are lots of other species. So it’s not a fantastic place, I wouldn’t even call it average, but I enjoyed my short visit. :)
     
  18. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    Good reports and photo layout LaughingDove.
     
  19. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    Thanks :)
    I'm pleased that they are being appreciated.
     
  20. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    The Living Rainforest: 31/07/2015

    I visited The Living Rainforest in Berkshire yesterday and I have posted a species list from this collection here: http://www.zoochat.com/38/current-species-list-living-rainforest-30-a-419687/ and to see some additional pictures to ones included here, see the gallery: The Living Rainforest Gallery

    The place is essentially a large greenhouse divided into two sections with a large café/gift shop area attached to it. This can be seen on the map here:

    [​IMG]

    When you enter you come in from the car park and into an entrance hallway which is the “Human Impact Area” which has a few signs and exhibits (though no animals) showing the impact of humans on the rainforest. You buy a ticket here and can then enter into the greenhouse bit.

    This is the area you first see when you first enter:
    [​IMG]

    This is the “Lowland Forest area” and is the smaller part of the zoo. you can see this scale from the map and it is separate from “Amazonica” by a door with the type of plastic flaps often used to contain free-flying birds or butterflies. I really don’t see why they have separated this to be honest, the “Amazonica” section does not exclusively contain species found in South America (although it is largely South American species) and there isn’t really any need to separate them. The only reason I can think of is that the “Lowland Forest Area” doesn’t have any free-roaming animals so there may be some plants or something that are either particularly sensitive or toxic/dangerous to the animals. I don’t think it is an attempt to keep it more lushly planted because both areas are planted very lushly and the free-roaming animals don’t seem to have destroyed anything in the “Amazonica” bit.

    Anyway, you go around the “Lowland Forest Area” which is a little bit boring to be honest. There are some really cool looking plants and it is very nicely done, but there isn’t the sound of lots of birds or animals or water or anything like that and the only animals species in here (in cages, not free-roaming) are Veiled Chameleons, Black and Green Poison Dart Frogs, Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches and a Fischer’s Turaco in an aviary (and a tank with butterfly pupae). This area is just one pathway leading round in a long U-shape and then you go through a doorway with plastic flaps and enter the main bit which is “Amazonica”.

    This is a far larger area and this view from a pathway which goes up a bit gives a view over part of this area:

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    This shows about two thirds to three quarters of the length

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    This gives a better idea of the width.

    I much preferred this area and it really has a much better rainforest feel. When you first enter “Amazonica” from the “Lowland” area you come to an enclosure with Goeldi’s Monkeys and even if you don’t immediately seen any of them, there are free-roaming birds, reptiles and mammals about so with those sounds, it feels more like a rainforest and is more interesting just with that. I won’t go through each individual enclosure and pathway but there is a network of little pathways going amongst the lush foliage with various little enclosures dotted around and a few free-flying species to make it feel even more like a rainforest. The free-roaming species were Linne’s Two-toed Sloth, Plumed Basilisk, Asian Water Dragon, Java Sparrow, Malagasy Teal, Yellow-winged Pytilia, Ringed Teal, Roulroul Partridge, Red-crested Turaco, Yellow-knobbed Curassow and Fischer’s Turaco. Notable exhibits were those for Goeldi’s Monkeys + Azara’s Agoutis, Red-billed Toucans + Azara’s Agoutis, a Crocodile enclosure (which was temporarily empty with a sign saying “Our Dwarf Crocodile has been moved to Germany to participate in the European breeding programme for her species. Look for updates on our website, facebook, and twitter pages to let you know how she is getting on, and which new animals will be moving into her enclosure”), a Pygmy Marmoset enclosure, Armadillo Enclosure and a large fish tank/pond (can be viewed from above or from the side through glass) with Ocellate River Stingray, Silver Dollar, Tambaqui, Sucker-mouth Catfish and Upside-down Catfish. There are also lots of smaller insect and herp enclosures. Pictures of these enclosures can be seen in the gallery if you are interested.

    In the centre of the “Amazonica” area is a large pond that has giant lily pads at certain times though there were none when I was there yesterday (I remember seeing them on a previous visit and there were signs saying they could be seen at certain times of year) however there are other aquatic plants and this is where the two free-roaming teal species can be seen as well as a few of the other birds and both of the free-roaming reptiles in the surrounding plants.

    View of part of the central pond:
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    View of one of the pathways which gives an idea of how lush everything is:
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    So I really liked The Living Rainforest though it is definitely not a traditional zoo by any means. The plants are as big an attraction as the animals with many unusual looking species signed as prominently as the animals, which is fair because the attraction is meant to give a feel of a rainforest where plants are a massive part. It is a bit small and I only spent about an hour there, but I really enjoyed my visit despite the fact that there are only 39 animal species and no big star species or anything very odd. The entry price is a bit steep which they justify by making the ticket an annual ticket (a bit of a con really as there is no cheaper option for a single entry) but I think it is worth it anyway. The place is very hot and humid, a bit more so than most tropical houses I thought, but similar humidity and heat to a hot day somewhere in a rainforest which helped to enhance the whole rainforest experience.