The Last Whipsnade Zoo Post – Honest

Been a bit busy with some paid for work today so here’s a roundup of photos from our trip to Whipsnade Zoo that didn’t fit under smartarse titles.

Grevy’s Zebra

My friend remarked that if animals were filed according to colour the zebras would have to share their enclosure with penguins,

Blackfooted Penguin

badgers, ring tailed lemurs,

Ring Tailed Lemur

Malayan tapirs, sheep dogs, killer whales, Postman Pat’s cat and pandas.

Red Panda

Only not red pandas, mind you I’m confused as to how anyone could think this little fellow was anything like a regular monochrome panda. Well aside from being asleep most of the time, but then my cat would also qualify as a panda if that was the criteria to judge them by.

Male ostriches come in black and white too. when we visited there were lots of eggs,

Proud mum

so by now there are probably lots of little ostriches scampering about. Ostriches also have long necks which brings me on to giraffes,


who are very hard to fit into a photo.

Pere David’s deer were wiped out in their native China when the last remnants of the Emperor’s captive deer herd were eaten during the Boxer rebellion of 1900.

Pere David’s deer

Fortunately some naughty European aristos had smuggled some deer back home, so all of the Pere David’s deer found today, including those reintroduced to China, are descended from a herd collected together at Woburn Abbey. The name comes from the French missionary Armand David who shipped the first carcass back to Paris for identification in 1866. The deer are well adapted for living in marshland with feet that splay out.

This pretty creature is an Persian Onegar,

Persian Onegar

a subspecies of wild ass found in Iran. Don’t be fooled by the cute looks they have a reputation for being untamable.

Penguins – nature’s dapper gentlemen – Whipsnade Zoo

I am very fond of penguins, they remind me of dancers from 1930’s film musicals decked out in their tailcoats.

Rockhopper Penguin

I think it’s the way that they stand bolt upright that makes it so easy to anthropomorphise the little critters.

Blackfooted Penguin does the breaststroke

We saw two types of penguin at Whipsnade. The handsome rockhoppers, with their bushy yellow eyebrows, come from the sub-Antarctic islands, where they hop around on the rocky coasts.

And now the front crawl

The blackfooted penguins are from the coasts of South Africa and Namibia. I think that Whipsnade’s penguins used to live at the fabulous Art Deco Lubetkin Pool in London Zoo. Despite the Lubetkin being very nice to look at, the penguins much prefer their new home where they can scratch about in the dirt and do the kind of things penguins do, including making more penguins!

Nothing quite like an early morning dip.


He’s Not Very Orange – Whipsnade Zoo

It was perhaps one of the most bizarre complaints I had ever heard.

Tigers – not as orangey as Kia Ora

Passing by Whipsnade’s tiger enclosure someone grumbled “He’s not very orange!” Oddly enough this magnificent Amur tiger wasn’t chowing down on a bowl of Frosties (Frosted Flakes to my American readers) or exclaiming “They’re Grrreat!” either.

Next thing you know monkeys won’t be liking Coco Pops and crows will be pouring Kia-Ora down the sink.

Compare the Meerkat – Whipsnade Zoo

I’m making no apologies for either using the advertising slogan or dishing up another set of photos from our trip to Whipsnade Zoo. We were very fortunate to have such lovely weather and to catch so many of the animals being active.

Meerkats make such great photographic subjects because it is so easy to anthropomorphize them, with their ability to stand upright on their hind legs.

Got any crisps?

There were three meerkats scuttling about when we visited their enclosure. I think some of their visitors must slip them the odd treat, judging from the brazen begging that was going on.

The Whipsnade synchronised begging team prepare to go into action

I think it’s a shame that the poor critters have been encouraged to do this sort of thing as they are no doubt being fed stuff that isn’t that good for them.

Go on give us a bit

Their behaviour does make for some engaging photography and it’s easy to see why the advertisements for price comparison website, that feature the Russian Meerkat Aleksandr Orlov (his Russian accent makes meerkat sound very similar to market, clever huh?) have struck such a resonant chord with viewers. In fact Aleksandr’s recognition has probably outstripped that of the website he advertises, as his ‘autobiography’ outsold those of Tony Blair, Cheryl Cole and Russell Brand when it was released in 2010.

Leave it out with the Seemples please

All Aboard the Jumbo Express – Whipsnade Zoo

I can’t think of a better way to explore Whipsnade Zoo‘s wide open animal paddocks than this.

The Jumbo Express steams up

This is Whipsnade’s own little railway. It has two steam locomotives, Excelsior and Superior, and a couple of diesels.

Excelsior, built in 1908

The railway was built in 1970 to view the white rhino herd that Whipsnade were captive breeding at the time. The two steam locomotives came from Bowater’s Papermill Light Railway near Sittingbourne in Kent, which was the last narrow gauge steam operated railway in the UK.

There is something almost quite organic about a steam locomotive as it gets up the power to lurch out of the station and the billowing steam and smell of coal smoke just transports me back to a time when the process of travel was more of an adventure than an ordeal.

The Diesels are quite cool too

As Excelsior pulled out of the station our first animal encounter was with a Bennet’s wallaby who sensibly hopped it out of the way.

Bennet’s wallaby

Next up were the jumbos themselves, Whipsnade’s are Indian elephants.

Mum and baby

The Indian one-horned rhinos are a real success story and captive breeding at places like Whipsnade have helped to restock the recovering wild population.

Indian one-horned rhino

We also got to see the herds of Bactrian camels from central Asia,

Two humps please

Pere David and fallow deer and yaks.

Yak, yak.yak

To top that I also got to see a wild hare and a lapwing in the enclosures though sadly wasn’t quick enough with the camera to catch them. (Mab says that next time we go anywhere, she’s leaving me in Sainsburys car park to photograph the herring gulls as they scavenge in the recycling, as I’d be just as happy doing that!)

The Jumbo Express is run by enthusiastic volunteers and the fare is £4.50 for grown up travellers on top of the normal zoo admission price . I think that is pretty good value to keep such great little engines on the tracks.

Running Free at Whipsnade Zoo

One of the fun things about Whipsnade are the animals that are roaming free.


This is a mara, a kind of giant guinea pig, in fact he’s the fourth largest rodent in the world. they roam all over the public areas of the Zoo. Naturally avoiding places like this,

Here be lions

where they might end up on the menu. Aside from the maras there are free roaming peafowl, muntjac deer and Bennet’s wallabies.

Bennet’s Wallaby

Bennett’s wallabies are from Tasmania and the south-west coast of Australia so they are well suited to the UK climate. The wallabies at Whipsnade were originally captive but broke out of their enclosures many years ago and are now all over the place. They have escaped from many other places here too so there are colonies of the wee rascals living wild all over the UK, which must infuriate the Daily Express!

This little chap however wasn’t meant to be out and about.

The great escape

He’s a silvery marmoset who broke out of the Discovery Centre during our visit. The keepers were soon after him with a net and a bell. I imagine the bell must be rung at feeding time, mind you I don’t think he had heard of Pavlov and his dog, judging by the merry dance he was leading!

Whipsnade – On Reflection

So difficult to resist the pun.

Pretty flamingos

The thing that has always puzzled me about flamingos,

How do they do that?

is how can they stand on one leg for so long, without falling over.

Whipsnade’s formation filter feeding team

At Whipsnade they share their enclosure with this noisy chap.

Southern Screamer

The southern screamer is from central south America. They live in large flocks eating mostly vegetable matter with the odd small creature thrown in. I had never seen one before our trip to Whipsnade and probably would not have noticed him if it hadn’t been for the unholy din he was making. A very aptly named bird.

Cheetahs at Whipsnade

Since yesterday was such a lovely day we decided to go and see the new arrivals at Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire.

Dubai and some of her seven cubs

Back in 2010 Dubai became the first captive north African cheetah in the UK to produce a litter of five cubs. this year she has gone two better with seven.

Cheetah cubs Whipsnade

The captive breeding programme for these north African cheetahs is critically important as there are only around 250 left in their natural environment. As a species there are fewer than 10,000 cheetahs left worldwide.

The cubs are very playful

At Whipsnade they have a good-sized paddock with plenty of space to run around, but I think we were really lucky to get to see them as although they are very playful, in the heat of the day they also like a cuddle with mum.

Can’t beat a cuddle with mum

Whipsnade Zoo is the country branch of ZSL London Zoo and as the UK’s largest zoo there is plenty of space for the larger animals to roam around in spacious paddocks. To get there from London take a train to Luton or Hemel Hempstead and then the X31 bus, or by road take exit 21 from the M25 onto the M1 and follow the signs. Entry is £19.50 and it will cost £4 to ransom your car back from the car park.

More post with cute pictures of other beasts will follow.