So - yesterday Judah turned 4! And his birthday expedition was to the Cotswold Wildlife Park. We had never been there before - so we weren't sure what to expect. But wow! This is an old beautiful estate - complete with massive grounds, walled gardens, stone walls, etc. And they've turned the whole thing into a zoo! And a darned good zoo at that - there were all kinds of crazy animals! (Note the rhino above. Hilarious to see a rhino and a herd of zebra grazing out in front of that house!)
I loved the house. So first I'm going to post up some pictures of that.
This was the conservatory which had been turned into a restaurant. The outside . . .
. . . and then the inside.
Just outside the house, sort of off the terrace - were the giant tortoises.
And there were peacocks sort of roaming about loose.
There was a fabulous little train that took you all around the grounds - and we did that right at the beginning. It was terrific - you could see everything from the train, and then go back and look at the animals up close on foot later.
Judah adored the train. Here he is - the birthday boy himself - on the train.
And here is the only photographic evidence that I was actually along on this trip!
After the train we got out and walked all over the grounds. Inside the walled garden they had most of the birds. Here is Judah at the penguins.
This was some strange little bird that wandered loose around in the jungle room. There was supposedly a sloth in there somewhere too - but we couldn't ever find it. There were however, lots of crazy birds like this guy.
Next we hit the Madagascar exhibit. This was downright wild. They had lemurs running loose all over the place . . . and they would sprint around and jump all over the rails right in front of us. I kept trying to get a picture of the kids with the lemurs - but the things were so ridiculously fast I never managed to get a good shot. Here is a series of attempts.
There's one right behind Knox right here which of course you can't see. Then the goofy black and white one - and in the back if you look closely there are 2 ring tail lemurs up at the top.
These things were nuts. What are lemurs anyway? They seemed like some bizarre cross between a monkey and a cat.
But then there were these things. I have no idea what these are - I don't remember. Knox of course knew right what they were, where they were from, how they are spelled, and told us that they are the world's largest rodent. Then again, I might be wrong. The world's largest rodent might have been a different one. These might have been the wild pigs. I am clearly not the expert.
Perhaps this is the world's largest rodent?
Here were some wallabies. That was fun - there were bunches of them all curled up having a nap in the leaves.
Here's Judah in front of the wallabies - with some random duck. He is holding 2 handfuls of grass that he was saving to feed to the rhino. He held onto this grass for about an hour - seriously - and even wiped out on his face once and didn't let go of the grass.
Here were the wolves - terrible picture, but fun to see them in real life.
A flamingo pond . . .
Judah and the flamingos - still with the grass.
Bel and the zebras - which the English were all pronouncing with a short e sound!
Here was a mother zebra and her baby in their little shed, staying out of the rain.
They even had camels!
Here's Judah - still with his grass - being disappointed that the rhino is napping about a mile away and not really anxious to be fed grass.
Daddy helped him sort of throw the grass in the general direction of the rhino.
Then there was the reptile house.
The crocodiles were a huge hit. (Or croc-idols as Judah has always called them and now that's the standard Merkle pronunciation.) There was a classic moment at this exhibit. The had a whole display of items made with crocodile skin that had been seized by Her Majesty's Customs. Purses, boots, sandals, etc. Some of them were really weird little things - like purses that had an entire crocodile head as the flap . . . that kind of thing. There was a big sign up that said that if you buy crocodile skin items that you are contributing to their extinction. It was really quite crowded in this part of the reptile house - and Bel yelled excitedly across to us, "Mom! Dad! Look at all the projects you can make with crocodile skin!" Not exactly the moral everyone was hoping would be drawn from the display . . .
Last of all, Judah had to ride the Merry Go Round once - and of course drive the "Ferrarri!" He's been telling us lately that he's a Ferrarri boy . . .
The zoo was fabulous - and there were skads of things I didn't get pictures of . . . lions, leopards, monkeys, insects, bats . . . loads of fun, and a really great birthday expedition!