Despite what most of you probably think, one can never go to enough zoos! Even though they frequently display similar animals, they are all unique. In December 2012 / January 2013 we visited three very different zoos in the southern USA and thoroughly enjoyed each one.
Audubon Zoo, New Orleans was our first stop. We were staying on St Charles Avenue so we just caught the street car up to Audubon Park. Public transport in New Orleans is so easy and inexpensive. It was an absolutely beautiful winter’s Sunday. The sky was clear and blue and the locals were just enjoying being out in the park with their families. The walk across the park to the zoo was fun. We admired the huge oak trees dripping with Spanish Moss and exclaimed excitedly every time we saw a squirrel! There were lots of them, the sight should have worn thin, but I have a real soft spot for squirrels – they are cute and fascinating to watch bounding around hyperactively and, they have bushy tails!
Spanish moss hanging from the oak tree, New Orleans
Zoos are a passion of ours, and despite some people’s aversion to them, the majority do excellent and vital conservation work. My husband studied zoology at university and my daughter volunteered for six years with the Taronga Zoo ‘Youth at the Zoo’ programme. http://taronga.org.au/yatz As you can see, it’s in the blood.
Twycross Zoo, in Warwickshire, is a superb little zoo, one of my favourites (and I’ve been to a lot of zoos). We discovered it in January 2011 because we found a brochure advertising Twycross as having snow leopards, my daughter’s favourite animal. This must be one of the most spectacular snow leopard display anywhere. Taronga Zoo http://taronga.org.au/taronga-zoo has snow leopards, and the best views of any zoo in the world. The Billabong Zoo in Port Macquarie also has snow leopards but neither come close to the display at Twycross. You can even see the snow leopards for free if you have neither the time nor inclination to do a full tour of the zoo. The zoo has built its reception area, gift shop and cafe with a huge picture window overlooking the snow leopard enclosure. You can sit and have lunch or coffee for as long as you like whilst watching these magnificent cats. The Twycross website http://twycrosszoo.org/ (2013) currently advertises their snow leopard cubs, so they must be doing something right.