Many years ago now we were members of Chester Zoo and would visit 2 or 3 times each month. Even though we then lived in Dewsbury, the 2-hour(ish) drive there didn’t bother us. But now we live in rural North Yorkshire and we have a zoo practically on our doorstep – Flamingo Land.
When we lived in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, we weren’t exactly close to any zoo. In fact, Flamingo Land was probably the closest even then. This didn’t stop us spending hours on the motorways of north-west England getting to Chester Zoo and back. We even went down to Twycross Zoo in Warwickshire once.
Another great zoo is Blackpool Zoo. We last visited there in 2017 when I ran the Blackpool Marathon. I’m running that again this year and raising funds for Versus Arthritis so a visit to the zoo could be on the agenda. It’s not on the scale of Chester, but in many ways seems better.
But, even though we’ve lived here for almost 6 years we’ve only visited Flamingo Land twice in that time. Despite having kids, it being a zoo AND theme park, for some reason we just haven’t.
Back in September last year, we visited Edinburgh Zoo. This is a city zoo and I decided not to write a blog about it as I really didn’t want to come across as negative. But, we hated it! So again, zoo snobbery!
So, we visited Flamingo Land
Last week it was half term and I took a day off to visit Flamingo Land. I’d seen a friend post some photos on Facebook of their children in a beaten-up Land Rover Defender with cheetahs on the bonnet. Cheetas!
It’s part of the cheetah enclosure at Flamingo Land zoo. I didn’t even know they’d added cheetas to their collection of over 140 species.
Cheetas are by far my favourite wild animal. They have cheetahs at Chester Zoo too but I was excited to find out Flamingo Land had added them to their collection. I had to visit.
The weather forecast for the day I’d booked off work was originally for sunny spells and dry. It changed. We managed to stay dry for an hour or so before the rain started. Cold and rainy – not the best weather for a zoo visit.
But we saw the cheetahs before the rain started. I was impressed with the enclosure overall. A sweeping path down one side gives you a great view of the paddock. There’s a glass-wall section under cover which is great when they come up to the glass (though not so great in the rain). And the Land Rover built into the glass is very cool – though they weren’t on the bonnet while our girls were in it sadly.
The Land Rover reminded me of documentaries where cheetahs have climbed onto the camera trucks and got very up close and personal with the photographers and videographers.
The cheetah exhibit at Flamingo Land is very new. So new in fact that if you check out the animal’s section of their website you won’t find them on there! According to Wikipedia, the cheetahs arrived at the zoo in 2019 as part of the European breeding program.
In addition to cheetahs, Flamingo Land is also home to two other species of big cats; African Lions and Sumatran Tigers. Sadly the lions weren’t out and one of the tigers made the most fleeting of appearances as we passed their enclosure.
Fun Fact: If you check out the lion information page on the Flamingo Land website, the main photo may look familiar to users of Apple Mac computers. It’s actually the default wallpaper photo for Mac OS X v10.7 Lion! Quite why they wouldn’t use a great photo of their own lions is beyond me. I am available if they require a photographer.
In contrast to the elusive lions and tigers, the zebras, ostrich and giraffes were all out and about.
One of the white rhinos made an appearance, eventually, and the two hippos were happy wallowing in muddy water.
During the winter, Flamingo Land remains open as just a zoo with only a few of the smaller kids rides open. But, during the half-term, more rides are opened up.
The girls went on a few, with the Mumbo Jumbo roller-coaster being a particular favourite. The best bit about the rain was that there were no queues and the four girls went on together. Verity was not impressed and declared she was frightened.
After assuring her it was OK to be scared she perked up and went back on a second time!
I’m pleased we went – I would have paid to see the cheetahs alone really. The winter plus pricing (i.e. half term) was £12.50 each, so it still cost us £75 in total. I’m not sure it was value for money, but then the rain really didn’t help. It was cold and Lydia started to turn a funny shade of blue!
As for the zoo; well, it continues to improve and that’s great. Some of the enclosures look a bit rough and I’d like to see them given some TLC. In particular, the lion and tiger paddocks don’t look that great. But the animals all look well cared for and that is important to say.
It’s my 40th birthday next month. It falls on a weekday and the day Helen will be sleeping to get ready for her night shift, so if I take the day off work I would be on my own. I’ve thought about going to Flamingo land to sit watch the cheetahs all day!
We’ve promised the girls that we’ll go back in the summer and enjoy a full day there. They would also love to go back to Lightwater Valley as they loved our last visit there and this is also really quite close to home for us. I best start saving now…
Thanks for reading.
* I contacted Flamingo Land prior to publishing this post in the hope of obtaining a media or press kit that would have enabled me to include some more facts about the attraction. Sadly they didn’t get back to me.
All the photos in this post are my own. I don’t always watermark my images, maybe I should, but I don’t. But please, don’t steal them. Ask me first, I’ll probably let you use them anyway with a credit.