Our last day in Scotland was spent at the Edinburgh Zoo and it is easily one of the best zoos I’ve ever been to. Granted, I’m not an expert on zoos but I have been to some pretty pathetic zoos (Tucson, I’m talking to you) and this was not one of them.
Our first stop was to see some flamingos. Having never seen a flamingo in person, both Jason and I were really confused as to why all the birds only had one leg. Perhaps this zoo was a sanctuary for crippled animals? After staring for a while, we realized we were just uneducated about Phoenicopteridae
Right after the flamingos was a monkey exhibit which slightly freaked me out. You had to be careful entering the area and make sure only one door was open at a time so the monkeys wouldn’t escape. This lead me to believe they were just running free and I had flashes of being attacked by a giant tribe of hairy animals. Luckily, that didn’t happen. And actually, they were quite sweet. I let out an audible “ahhh” at this Mama Monkey cuddling with her baby. Motherhood has turned me into a giant softie.
Lena loves the movie Finding Nemo so when we saw this pelican, she got excited and started pointing and making noise. This guy was enormous. I’m fairly convinced he is actually a Pterodactyl after seeing his wing span. He could probably eat me if he wanted to.
There were tons of places to stop and rest as well as let your kids play which I thought was pretty clever. The zoo is enormous and sits on a hill so little legs (and big legs as well) get tired. Lena was a trooper and walked the entire time. And yes, she climbed every possible surface she could get her little legs up to.
There was a nice mix of activities for both big and little kids and Lena especially enjoyed the Chimp exhibit. According to the size chart, she’s as tall as a three-year-old chimp but has a much smaller handprint. Being the little technological wizard that she is, she gravitated toward the TV screen and danced and babbled at the talking chimp on screen. We didn’t stop here but there’s a small cafe with coffe, tea and pastries so if you’ve got kids that need a break from the weather, this is a great spot to stop. Also, they have toilets here and as we’ve come to discover, this is a real treat here in the UK.
Right outside the chimp exhibit was the most awesome play structure I’ve seen in a while. I really wanted to play on it but seeing as my kiddo wasn’t big enough, I thought it might be weird for a 30-year-old mom to be alone on a toy meant for grade schoolers. It was £4 to get harnessed and go up on the ropes course and from the look and sound of it, it was well worth the money.
I got a little fancy in the Brilliant Birds exhibit and decided to test out my telephoto lens. I felt like a legit photographer until I noticed my lens had fogged up from the humidity inside and that my hands were a bit shaky to be shooting without a tripod. So I’m more of a poser than a pro but I’m going to post the photos anyway because these animals were gorgeous.
Before you got to the actual birds, there was a wall of nightmares, as I am going to call it. Glass cages housed everything from poisonous frogs to hissing cockroaches to snapping turtles. I’m actually starting to itch just thinking about it. I took a few photos then realized I didn’t want to see any of those creatures larger than life on my computer screen so they got deleted. However, I did keep the photo of the ants. They were munching on a pile of ant food – leaves, plants, and old food – then carrying them up a rope, across the ceiling and into a separate glass cage. It was pretty incredible to watch. They’re obviously strong from all the spinach they eat.
There were two separate outdoor areas with even more monkeys and apparently, they are part of a number of on-going research projects. One that I thought was particularly interesting involved the monkeys and their like or dislike for certain foods. The idea is that they complain when given bland food and sing praises when given more tasty options. Researchers have recorded the monkeys during different feedings and are studying the results. My approach wasn’t so scientific; I just enjoyed photographing them.
Since we still had a six hour drive back to Newmarket, we went through the rest of the zoo fairly quickly. Jason kept telling Lena to look at the big or little doggies. Apparently, he thought it would be easier to describe everything as either a bird or a giant dog. Some of the stuff he comes up with is so bizarre and I can’t help but laugh at him. There is no doubt that he and Lena are related. We happened upon some sort of burrowing pig and the sounds it made while smacking on it’s food was exactly what you’d expect of a pig. Then it dawned on me that it’s the exact same noise Jason and Lena make when eating their food. Be thankful I don’t have audio; it’s disturbing.
Our final stop was at the penguins and as you can see from the photos, Lena was absolutely ecstatic. She put on a quite a show for everyone around as she giggled, squealed, jumped and babbled for a solid five minutes. People all around were cracking up at her antics. I love watching her personality emerge – she loves to make people laugh.
We loved the Edinburgh Zoo and I definitely want to go back before our assignment here in England is done. You could easily spend an entire day here looking at all the animals, playing on the big toys and picnicking around the park. Adults are £15.50 and under 3’s are free. They also offer discounts when you have two or more children so be sure to check on that. If you’re interested in visiting the zoo and seeing their latest exhibits, check out their website here: