Last week, one of our little cubs Arabella turned the grand old age of 2! Don’t be fooled by the beautiful photos though….this little girl is not all sugar and spice and everything nice! She is definitely a snails and puppy dogs tails kind of girl (she was given African snails and a pirate costume for her birthday) – so a wild day out was in order for our little adventurer’s celebrations.
We had a super day, jam packed with activities and animal-watching that was fun for all three generations of the family. The morning began with spotting the strangest creature we have ever seen – an anteater with her baby on her back! It had a huge long snuffly snout, and its big bushy fan-like tail was the length of her body. Then to the meerkat walk-through area, where little furry bundles were running between our feet, making the children giggle. We were lucky to be able to do the same with the penguins, and got up close as the baby of the group, Peaches, was being fed her fish breakfast.
The real adventure started with a boat trip onto the lake, where we saw huge hippos wallowing in the muddy shallows, and the famous silverback gorilla, (they say he is the oldest in the world) sitting on his island ignoring us. Apparently he has a TV in his house and loves Peppa Pig as much as Arabella does! The seals were definitely not ignoring us though, and did some fantastic acrobatics to show off and encourage us to throw them some more fish. The little cubs loved watching them splash and crash around following the boat, and insisted that Grampy bought a second pot of fish.
After lunch we visited the African village, where the gentle giraffe and zebra were grazing in the sunshine…..until Flo shrieked with excitement and sent them all galloping off! So back to the car, as we were now ready for our safari, and were sure to follow Longleat’s instructions to “wind up your windows and hide all the sandwiches” before we entered the park. First stop was ‘Monkey Mayhem’ – and we were certainly all hoping for some, (apart from Arabella’s Daddy who was worried about his windscreen wipers). With the birthday girl up front in her monkey mask, they soon hopped aboard and it was great to see them through the glass top roof of the car. We thought they had jumped off, but then saw a little hand on the rear wiper and he gave us a little wave before scuttling off.
Next up was Deer Park, where we had the chance to feed the deer through the windows. Their slobbery noses and long tongues (they could do with a Cotswold Baby Co. Super Bib themselves) poked into the car in search of the food and we got really close to them – the children loved it! We also had a great view of the hairy camels with their two humps bobbing about, and the crash of rhinos racing each other around their area.
We then pulled up in front of huge gates, with signs reminding us not to leave our vehicle, and keep windows closed……this was what we had been waiting for….the big cats! And we were not disappointed – we saw a cheetah strolling around in the open grassland, before going into Tiger Territory, where we got very close to a huge tiger slowly walking amongst the trees. It was now dusk as we entered Wolf Wood, and quite eery to see the creamy white wolves sat peacefully still. But the star attraction came in Lion Country, where groups of lions were dotted about having a sunset snooze, and we were thrilled when one walked right in front of our car as we said farewell to Longleat, off home for some snail birthday cake and present opening.
We will definitely be returning soon - there is so much that we didn’t get to explore, including the house and the maze. There are many seasonal events held here, and the upcoming ‘Great British Autumn at Longleat’ coincides with half term, with lots of extra activities for children such as owl displays, pumpkin carving and apple pressing. We were also very lucky to see the team setting up the displays of famous story characters such as the seven dwarves and Cinderella’s coach, for the ‘Festival of Light’, which opens in November – and can’t wait to return to see them all lit up at night. Check their website for full details, dates and ticket info www.longleat.co.uk.
We are sure you will have a wild time!
Other Half Term Activities for your Little Cubs in the Cotswolds
- Cotswold Wildlife Park near Burford also has a great selection of animals, a train ride, adventure playground, children’s farmyard, and feeding times throughout the day.
- Adam Henson Farm Park have lots of half term activities this week, such as pumpkin picking and a scarecrow maze.
- At Westonbirt Arboretum, collect conkers and beautifully coloured leaves to make a collage at home, hunt for the Gruffalo, and have a hot chocolate before letting off some energy in the adventure park.
- Birdland near Bourton-on-the-Water - where you can get up close and personal with reptiles and giant tortoises, and see the only King Emperor penguins in the country.
- St Michael’s Park in Cirencester has a Halloween make and do session on Tuesday 24th October from 11-3pm. See their facebook page for more info.