Thursday, 3 February 2011
Posted by Kirsten Irving
Last weekend we went to The Tropical Zoo for Siân's birthday. If you've not been, it's based out in Brentford, which is pretty easy to get to from London, and it's amazing.
When we walked in, the first two things we saw, just past the ticket desk, were one cat, sleeping in the gift shop, and one enormous tortoise, padding freely around! We would go on to encounter three types of monkey, noisy macaws, huge fish, an alligator, exotic frogs, spiders, chickens, and this was just the ones we didn't hold!
At four, we went to see the staff talk about some of the animals, and got to hold a cockroach, a giant millipede, a king snake, a python, two dragons (Jon is up top with the lovely Ben) and a gorgeous leopard gecko. You simply can't do this at ZSL, which, much though I love it, costs double the entry fee and doesn't allow you to get quite as close. Children are more than welcome and are all given an opportunity to hold and stroke the animals (most were way braver than their parents).
As we were about to leave, we saw a crowd in the reception area and looked up to see a stunning sloth hanging from the ceiling. Her name was Cynthia and one of the members of staff had green beans for her to eat (sloths may be slow but they're no fools). We were allowed to offer her beans and that feeling of her huge claws brushing my fingers was just incredible, as she deftly transferred the goodies to her mouth. Mind-blowing.
Unfortunately for the Tropical Zoo, the lease is not being renewed, and the zoo and its residents have to move. This will cost £1.2 million, according to the website, and the target needed for now is £350,000. All of the animals here are rescued, from piranhas to marmosets, and the zoo is a sanctuary for them. If the money for the move cannot be raised by September, their future is not certain.
A bargainous £6.50 maximum (concessions available) gets you access to this incredible place, and guarantees you a fantastic day out. Please support this friendly and educational walk on the wild side.