Wild Place Project
I mentioned previously about our visit to the Wild Place Project, but I thought it worth sharing a bit more of our experience.
The Wild Place Project is owned by Bristol Zoo, but the focus is much more on bringing conservation to life. It is astounding to think you can meet zebra, cheetahs and wolves within a couple of minutes from junction 17 of the M5. It is a fairly small place at the moment but there is a lot of scope to develop and expand the park much further.
The main reason for visiting the Wild Place Project was for the cheetahs that had arrived a few months previously. When I visited South Africa seven years ago, I was lucky enough to get up close to this magnificent animal at a sanctuary.
Since seeing this photo, Freyja has been keen to see a cheetah herself, so when she saw a flyer for the Wild Place she was desperate to go. There are less than 2,000 Central African cheetahs in the wild, and the Wild Place Project is only one of four collections in the UK to keep them. It was a privilege to be able to see these amazing animals. I can’t get over how such a distinctive looking animal is able to camouflage so well in the long grass. It took Freyja a couple of minutes to spot the animal which was about 10 metres from where we were stood. It had seen us long before we caught sight of it, and it seemed to be watching us as keenly as we were observing it.
We were a little disappointed not to have been able to see the red river hogs who obviously didn’t want to come out from wherever they were hiding and we only got a glimpse of one of the five European Grey Wolves which was fast asleep, but a few of the other animals were much happier for us to get acquainted with them. A beautiful okapi wandered over towards us and didn’t mind both the girls waving at it and saying “hello okapi!” and in the lemur enclosure one animal got a bit closer to Freyja than she’d have liked when it jumped over her head!
I think the Discover Madagascar exhibit had to be my favourite part. In the first section is a mock up of an African village with a little school and market stall where pygmy goats and guinea fowl are roaming free.
Freyja didn’t mind the “billy goats” wandering around close to her but the “ducks from The Lion King” were a different matter. I think she felt unsure about their fast, nervous running around quite close to her, so she was happy to go through into the lemur enclosure.
“ducks from The Lion King” or more commonly “guinea fowl”
We got to the lemurs just before feeding time. We all got a great view of the lemur group enjoying fruit and vegetables being fed to them by a very knowledgeable member of staff who gave a brilliant entertaining and informative talk about the animals. The girls loved watching two of the three babies, leaving their mother to run around after each other – it reminded me very much of the two of them.
The Wild Place Project is more than the animals that are there. It was the perfect place to visit with the girls as there were a few different play areas to keep them entertained. There is an undercover “Fun Fort” – a play area with things to climb up and slide down which they enjoyed, and an outside area with a trampoline and sandpit amongst other things.
The highlight for the girls was the Barefoot Trail – a 150m walkway through a variety of different textures, including straw, bark, pebbles, shells and mud. It kept the girls amused for ages – they did it 3 times!
We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I know that as the park continues to develop and expand it will become a really brilliant attraction. I know that this is somewhere we will visit time and time again and I want to see it grow. I also want my girls to appreciate the importance of conservation through places like The Wild Place Project, and so I bought us membership there and then. I have a feeling that there will be quite a few more fun family days out together here…