Chester Zoo

As a belated third birthday celebration, we took Lena to the Chester Zoo in Northern England. They claim the title of Number 1 Zoo in the UK and there is also a BBC drama currently being filmed about the history of it’s founder, George Mottershead. Having an animal-obsessed toddler, you’d think we would visit zoos a lot more often. But I find them to be a bit depressing when you think about these poor animals spending their entire lives cooped up in a cage just for our viewing pleasure. However, the Chester Zoo was nothing of the sort. In short, this place was amazing. It was impeccably organized with beautifully designed signage, a great layout, and the best part was that the animals seemed genuinely content in their environments. The “zoo without bars” describes itself as follows:

“Our vision is for a diverse, thriving and sustainable natural world

Our mission is to be a major force in conserving biodiversity worldwide”

They fight to save species from extinction all while protecting the land the zoos sits upon. Basically, they walk the walk and talk the talk and we loved it. So here are an inappropriate number of photos of the beautiful animals we saw during our visit. And yes, several weeks later, Lena is still talking about all of them with elephants being a particular favorite.

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I’ve always loved giraffes but after seeing this group, I was even more obsessed. The Rothschild giraffes are the second most endangered subspecies of their kind and there are likely just a few hundred left in the wild. They were just indescribably beautiful and my pregnancy hormones may have made me tear up and then pretend a bug flew in my eye. Go see a giraffe in person. The way they move and observe you is beyond description.

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In between visiting all the mammals, birds and amphibians, we stopped to let Lena run around one of the play structures and enjoy some pizza and pasta for lunch. Since we were road tripping, we didn’t bring a packed lunch and were happily surprised at the low cost and high quality of the food served at the zoo. This place can basically do no wrong in my eyes.

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After putting myself in a carb coma, we strolled through the rest of the exhibitions and then decided to take the Monorail back towards the entrance. For just a few extra pounds, you get a bird’s eye view of all the different habitats and a running commentary about which animals to look out for. Lena loved it, of course, and didn’t want to get off. There is also a Waterbus but the weather was starting to turn cold and rainy and I was feeling extra creaky in my bones so we decided to skip it.

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I would definitely visit Chester Zoo again and would love to let Lena play Zoo Keeper for a day. Judging by the giant grin on her face followed by a 3 hour nap, I’d say she enjoyed it, too!

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