A couple of weeks ago we decided to visit Edinburgh Zoo. I hadn’t been for a few years but going back reminded me of how conflicted the Zoo makes me feel. On the one hand it is great to be able to see animals that I would never have an opportunity to see otherwise, but on the other hand I can’t help but wonder how being kept in enclosures affects them, especially the bigger animals like the tigers and rhinos. I can only hope that they are well cared for and for the most part they certainly seemed to be.
First up were the meerkats and they are just as adorable as I expected them to be. One was on sentry duty as they would be in the wild and the others were having a great time digging in the earth. A couple of younger ones even had a little play fight.
The giant pandas are a big draw for Edinburgh Zoo but I must confess it was the red pandas that stole my heart. They are new arrivals at the Zoo and it was the first time I had ever seen one. With little fluffy faces and tales they were extremely cute and when one of them curled up in the branch of the tree for a nap it reminded me of a sleeping cat. These beautiful animals are sadly an endangered species, like so many others at the Zoo.
My main reason for wanting to go to the Zoo was to see the penguins. The last time I was there it was the 4th of May and the penguins did their parade to the Star Wars theme tune. It was such a great experience but this time we were too early for the parade. Nevertheless I was still on cloud nine, especially when I spied the rockhopper penguins. These little guys always steal my heart with their tiny stature and yellow plumage. It was a warm day and they were busy trying to cool off. This one in particular looked rather disgruntled at the heat.
As well as the rockhoppers the Zoo is home to lots of gentoo penguins. There are currently 17 little chicks and I must confess I could have stood and cooed over them all day long. They are adorable. Look at how grey and fluffy they are!
When not on nest duty, the adults were having fun dipping in and out of the water. There was a window where you could watch them swimming underwater and the gentoos were darting back and forth, showing off to their audience. I felt like a child at Disneyland watching them. My boyfriend had to drag me away or we would never have seen another animals.
We did book tickets to see the giant pandas but sadly neither of them was feeling up to coming out of their huts. I can’t really blame them. It was incredibly warm and if I had the choice to sleep all day I would probably be found in bed too.
The koalas were also asleep but luckily they were napping in the branches of the trees so we were still able to see them.
Sleepiness was the order of the day as several of the monkeys were also having a siesta. Many of them were draped over the branches, their arms and legs dangling, putting me in mind of children who have the ability to fall asleep anywhere.
Both of us love cats so naturally we were hoping to see the big cats. The Asiatic lions were not on display but we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the female Sumatran tiger pacing about on top of a rock. The male was sound asleep in the straw, but that gave us a chance to marvel at how beautiful he is. I really hope conservation efforts to save these gorgeous animals from extinction are successful. It would be awful if the world was to lose them.
One of our last stops was the otter enclosure. Every time I visit the Zoo I hope to see them but I never do. Imagine my surprise when my partner spotted them. There were five of them, all sunning themselves. They quickly scurried off when they noticed us, but not before we had a chance to see two of them nuzzling and generally being beyond cute. My day was well and truly made.
Edinburgh Zoo is a popular attraction and with the wide variety of animals it is no surprise. If I had children I would definitely bring them here to educate them about the many endangered species we share our world with. I would recommend going early as it does get very busy from about 11am onward. Many people are opposed to zoos, however I do think they have an important part to play in conservation. It is a sad fact that without zoos many of these gorgeous animals would be extinct. If anything, hopefully a visit to your local zoo will help put into perspective just how important conservation is.