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Animal Experience Days & Gifts

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Animals: Everything you need to know

Always wanted to adopt a dolphin, but not sure your bath’s going to be big enough? Here’s the good news: thanks to, you can adopt any number of crazy creatures, and you don’t even have to muck them out!

Choose an official WWF adoption pack and support the work of this important charity: choose the dolphin, tiger, polar bear, orang-utan or panda, and you’ll even get a free cuddly toy. If you just love majestic birds of prey, pick up a falconry voucher and enjoy learning to fly all manner of stunning birds with the help of an experienced handler.

Give your kids a taste of the Wild West as they learn to ride and lasso at an equestrian centre in Hampshire: the experience includes lunch for the kids and a full hour’s riding, and parents can hang around and watch. We also have a range of experiences for lovers of tigers, whales, horses, meerkats and lions, including a chance to feed big cats at the Paradise Wildlife Park in Hertfordshire.

There’s no better way to get up-close and personal with these fabulous creatures: the voucher price includes entry to the park so you can explore all day!


Q: Wait, this isn’t going to be my dad in a poorly constructed costume again? Like the time I met the Whitsun hedgehog?
A: No way! These are real, live and real live animals. With fur and horns and everything.
Q: And what am I expected to do with them?
A: Completely depends on the sort of animal experience you hone in on. There are Big Cats, Birds of Prey, Meerkats, dolphins and horses on the agenda. With some you’ll get up close and personal and others you’ll be watching from a distance.
Q: This is a metaphor, right? And you’ll tell me the real animal is within us all?
A: Nope, most of our feeding and zookeeping experiences take place at Paradise Wildlife Park in Hertfordshire, not far from St Albans. Birds of prey days take place in various locations across the UK including the Yorkshire Dales, Fife, Cornwall, the Peak District and Sussex. Boat trips, for experiences such as whale and dolphin watching, are available at various locations including Penzance, Newquay and Cromarty in Scotland. But check the full list to see if there’s something near you.
Q: And if I am a very young child?
A: Some of our animal gaffs don’t allow very young children to take part. That’s just because things like falconry aren’t really suitable and could be a bit scary for the wee ones. We have horse riding for children aged four and over though. If your older kids want to try zookeeping or feeding the animals at Paradise Wildlife Park, younger kids can attend, tour the park and have a go on the mini golf: they just can’t take part in the actual animal encounters. Family members will need to pay to get in, although the person who’s covered by the experience voucher doesn’t need to pay.
Q: Wait, I’ll be basically doing the zookeepers job?
A: If you’re feeding wild animals like lions and tigers, you’ll normally be chaperoned by a keeper who will explain any safety precautions and give you a mini tour of the enclosure. You’ll then have a chance to feed the animals face to face. Note that the person feeding the animals may have to handle raw meat and/or bones, so if you’re buying this type of experience as a gift, make sure they’re OK with this (if they’re not, you can swap the voucher). Most of these experiences are provided for groups, so you will probably attend with other voucher-holders on the day.
Q: What happens before and after the whole feeding thing?
A: If you’re at Paradise Wildlife Park, you are free to explore the rest of the park before and after your feeding experience.
Q: So I shouldn’t dress like the animal I’m planning to meet?
A: Nope, but with experiences such as Meet the Meerkats, you should wear clothing you don’t mind Meerkats clambering over. With the outdoor experiences, such as with the Birds of Prey and dolphin watching, dress appropriately for the weather.
Q: Anything medicinal I should be aware of?
A: Please check that you are up to date on your tetanus inoculations (this can be verified by your GP).
Q: And if I don’t actually want to meet an animal but do want to give them money?
A: Then why not adopt an animal via the World Wildlife Fund? You can support the work of this important charity: choose the dolphin, tiger, polar bear, orang-utan or panda, and you’ll even get a free cuddly toy.

Fun Facts

  • 1. Houseflies always hum in the key of F. Well, they do hang around refuse all day, so it’s no surprise they hum.
  • 2. On average, there are 50,000 spiders per acre of space in the countryside. Which is why I always visit the countryside wearing a full suit of armour and carrying a paintball gun.
  • 3. Tigers not only have stripes on their fur, they also have them on their skin and no two tigers ever have the same stripes. And all are annoyed by the nickname ‘Stripy’.
  • 4. Elephants are one of only three mammals that undergo menopause, the other two being humpback whales and human females. Does this apply to males as well, as that would explain why I saw that elephant buying a speedboat.
  • 5. Beavers’ teeth never stop growing, so they must constantly gnaw on objects to keep them at a manageable length. That must be dam time-consuming.
  • 6. Oysters can change sex depending on which gender is most conducive for mating. So if you are ordering an oyster mail order bride – beware.
  • 7. Millions of trees are accidentally planted by squirrels that bury nuts and then forget where they’ve hidden them. Which makes squirrels the Monty Dons of the animal world. Though I suppose Monty Don is an animal too. OK, Monty Don can be Monty Don and the squirrels can be squirrels. There, happy now?
  • 8. Dogs’ nose prints are as unique as human fingerprints and can be used to identify them. Though sticking their name on a collar is easier.
  • 9. Hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly backwards and their wings can beat at up to 80 times per second. Is this for survival or are they just showing off?
  • 10. A group of flamingos is called a flamboyance. Unlike a group of flans, that’s a flamboyance.