Over the Easter holidays we paid another visit to Cotswold Wildlife Park. I don’t want to do another post about the animals we saw as I have already done so several times. Rather, I wanted to focus on one aspect of our visit – the idea of freedom.
Firstly, the freedom within the Madagascar Walkthrough exhibit. Here you can get up really close to a couple of different species of lemurs. We were lucky enough to see two ring-tailed lemurs about a metre away from us, playing around with each other and basking in the sunshine.
Watching these two clambering over each other, enjoying each other’s company and having fun together in the sun was very reminiscent of my two girls. It reminded me of how basic our need for play and company is, and the importance of getting out and enjoying our environment. Watching the girls watching the lemurs in some ways was seeing their personalities being mirrored back at them.
There is also a fantastic play area at the Cotswold Wildlife Park, and here I watched Emily find a bit of freedom of her own. There is a large wooden castle with steps up and a couple of slides to get down. Between the steps and one of the slides is a long, narrow walkway to get to the other slide. Trying to be a responsible parent I followed Emily on the ground as she discovered this walkway about a metre and a half off the ground, ready to catch her at the bottom of the slide. During this time, it was almost like Emily realised that I was unable to get up to her on the walkway. She delighted in her new found freedom, and no sooner had she got to one end, she would look at me, grin and turn around and shoot back along the way she had come, repeating it until I coaxed her down with the promise of cake.
We usually associate zoos with animals kept behind bars, but maybe allowing more freedom to interact with them will help us better understand them, in the same way that maybe allowing my girls a bit more freedom to interact with their environment will enable them to learn more about what they are capable of doing and me to learn a little more about them.