Yesterday, we had the pleasure of going to Paradise Wildlife Park in Broxbourne. It’s only about 20 minutes drive from our house but we have actually never been there. We’ve wanted to go for a while, though. I love animals, and I’m really interested in seeing how different zoos support conservation and raise awareness of these magnificent animals. On top of this, Oliver is obsessed with Halloween so ‘Howl-o-ween’ week at a new zoo sounded perfect.
When we arrived we had a walk around to look at all the different birds which are in a different area to the rest of the animals. After that we headed over to the main part of the zoo to see what Howl-o-ween delights we could find. As we wandered through the zoo you could see they’ve really gone to town on the Howl-o-ween theme. The animals have been given carved pumpkins as enrichment tools. There were pumpkins in trees and around the enclosures of different animals.
The highlight of Howl-o-ween has to be the wolves. After all that’s pretty much what the Halloween event is named after. We saw one really close in the enclosure near to the zebras and then another two in the woods. They’re really good at camouflaging themselves though and it was only when one moved that we realised it was right in front of us, so you do have to look closely! I recommend the Woodland Railway, although you can definitely see the wolves on the woodland walk too.
Photo Credit: Paradise Wildlife Park
There are loads of other Howl-o-ween activities going on, we didn’t get around it all as there was so much that Oliver wanted to see and do. The pirate ship play area was one of them. He spotted it on the way in and nagged us all the way around to go to it. We did watch the show in the Jungle Theatre though, he loved that! Especially the clever rat, Peaches who raises money for Apopo – the rats that help detect landmines in Africa. The laughing kookaburra was also hilarious, although not meaning to be. It just didn’t want to perform.
Dracula’s Bat Cave and a Snake
I have to say, one of the highlights for me was seeing the free flying bats. Although none of them flew at us, unfortunately. We did see the huge cluster of bats in the corner of the roof though. I did envisage a horror film scene where bats fly at you, but no such luck. Probably a good job with a 4 year old.
The other highlight was in the reptile house. I’m not a huge fan of snakes, but we went in to see which animal was being talked about. The keeper had one of the smaller snakes out and we were able to touch it. He gave us lots of information about the snake and answered everyone’s questions too. Oliver had been telling us recently that snakes are scary, so it came as perfect timing for him. He was absolutely in awe of the snake and watched it very carefully. So even though the scary Howl-o-ween snake turned out not to be so scary, he still enjoyed it.
What I really liked was that we arrived at a reasonable time and still made it around pretty much the whole wildlife park. We saw a lot of different animals and talked to Oliver about conservation and extinction the whole way around too. There are lots of signs with information about the animals and how endangered they are too.
There are loads of play areas around the zoo, including old fire engines to play on and diggers too. There’s also the usual playground equipment and some augmented reality boards where you can see dinosaurs (although we couldn’t get it to work and our phone batteries were running low at this point). There’s also adventure golf, a go-karting type track and some lego type building blocks as well as bouncy castles.
On a cold or wet day there’s a soft play area inside the cafe. We only realised it was there as we were leaving but it looked a good size.
There’s a covered picnic area somewhere, but there are also loads of benches throughout. Anyone with a small child knows that happy to hangry is only a matter of seconds. We plonked ourselves down among the big cats and actually saw the tiger strolling around while we were eating. We’ve read ‘the tiger who came to tea’ though, so we didn’t invite it over.
Overall, it’s a great day out. As we sat on the little train Oliver looked at R and said, “Daddy, can we come to Paradise Wild Park every day?” He absolutely loved it. As it’s only 20 minutes away in the car it’s a great location for us. We really enjoyed all of the Howl-o-ween activities too. There was face painting around too, but Oliver isn’t keen on it and there was so much to do he didn’t even notice. All of the kids could get a free wolf mask too, but we forgot to get one for Oliver. He didn’t notice though. And he can’t read, so he has no idea. Phew.
More photos of our day at Howl-o-ween at Paradise Wildlife Park