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Monkey Magic at Chester Zoo

Published on July 14th 2004.

It’s been years since I’ve been to a Zoo, the last time being with either school or my parents, I don’t remember which, but after convincing my girlfriend Rachel we should go, I couldn’t sleep because of the excitement.
We managed to arrive just as the rain was letting up and the sun was peering out from behind a cloud. It wasn’t a sunny day by any standards, but nor was it the day of thunder and gloom the weatherman had predicted, which was definitely a good thing.
Walking through the main entrance the first thing we spotted were Elephants, well a couple of them, I’d forgotten how big some of the enclosures are, Elephants are obviously fairly large creatures, and need a lot of space, but that can make it difficult to spot them when they’re hiding behind rocks a couple hundreds of yards away, so it took a little bit of wandering around the fences before we found them, best of the bunch was a baby elephant sat happily munching on a felled tree (?!?)
One highlight was an extremely angry little monkey - there was a girl dressed as a rhino that he’d spotted and well, he didn’t seem to be a fan at all. I don’t really fancy his chances if that’s his reaction to real rhinos, though maybe it was the pink socks she was wearing, who knows, but if he hadn’t been behind the glass, boy would she have been in trouble.
The nocturnal bat cave in the twilight zone was definitely my favourite enclosure, it’s a new addition to the zoo and it’s spectacular. Walking into near pitch black to hear only occasional squeaks is really daunting, definitely not something to try on your own because massive bats are swooping all over the place. I’m sure a couple of them were winding us up, flying as close to Rachel and I as they could just to scare us.
There is a keeper permanently on hand in case of panic attacks. I was fine (of course!), but from the looks of some other people as they came out, the keeper might sometimes be needed - there were plenty of girlfriends holding their boyfriends tightly.
With hundreds of species and literally thousands of specimens there’s no way I can mention them all here, I can’t not mention the monkeys, which when we saw them, were doing things I really can’t bring myself to talk about, but let me put it this way: two monkeys in particular were having a great time…
The zoo has resolved the problem of having to walk around eleven miles of tarmac pathways for visitors who might share my laziness. Large pushchairs are hired out at the main entrance, there are loads of snack stops and benches dotted everywhere, and meandering round the pathways really is the best way to see the enclosures. The Zoofari Railway and Waterbus are also fantastic ways to see everything from above and below, giving a completely different view of the animals.
My only complaint would be the food, next time I’ll be taking a packed lunch because although it looked OK, I just don’t think burger and chips should cost £5.10, that’s just crazy, and on a nice day you can’t beat a picnic in the gardens, with the Children’s Fun Ark close by it’s an ideal chance to take a time out and relax.
All in all it was a fantastic day, and a perfect prequel to a party in the evening, (you knew drinks would be mentioned somewhere!). Even if I was a little tired from all that walking and missing lunch, (£5.10 for burger and chips, one of those chips is firmly sat on my shoulder!!) I’ll be heading back again soon, the orang-utans were locked away by the time we got around to them, and there’s still some bits and bobs I’ve yet to see, not to mention the giant elephant I want to buy for my nephew.
Chester Zoo

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