Into the wild: An afternoon at Paradise Wildlife Park
With the bank holiday weekend here and summer heading out the door, it seemed like a fitting time for our first family trip to the zoo, so we hit the local – Paradise Wildlife Park in Broxbourne.
A couple of years ago when the prospect of a child was just a twinkle in my eye, Jenna and I went there and it was a solid date location. And in classic date fashion I even had to give away my jacket and pretend I was a gent because someone had a bit too much faith in the UK spring weather.
It wasn’t just Roma we’d be taking this time around now we’re parents though, we’d be going as a family of four. No, we’ve not secretly been keeping another child in the cupboard under the stairs, the sister-in-law called upon us for aunt and uncle duties, which meant looking after ten-month-old Maverick for the day and night. We were excited because it would be the first time we babysat him and also anxious because, well, it would be the first time we babysat him.
Once Robyn dropped off Mr. Mavs on Saturday afternoon we shot straight off to the park which is just 20 minutes from home and got there at 3ish. Knowing the park would close at 6pm and with a range of different zones to choose from, we wasted no time and made a beeline straight for the main Animal Park area. There we were first met by the lemurs, which Roma has come to know from Madagascar running on a loop for the past few weeks.
After giving the kids their King Julian fix we briefly moved over to the camels before an unexpected shower came down on us so we took refuge in the Amazon and Beyond building. But, having been met with piranhas and an anaconda thicker than a McDonald’s milkshake, I can safely say I’d have preferred staying outside.
With the rain passing quickly we went back out into daylight and headed over to the white tiger enclosure where, well, look at the slide below for all of the cuteness that ensued as Roma laid eyes on him.
Between that and the videos below, I’m relatively sure she’s going to grow up to become an animal lover and/or crazy cat lady.
People have always wondered why the Newfoundland was my breed of choice. This video demonstrates exactly why. Frank came over by his own accord to sit with gorgeous Roma (@dadultlife @jennashilstfit) and enjoyed getting his bottom stroked for a good 10mins. When he chose it was enough he just carefully got up and moved away whilst Roma waved goodbye 😍😍 #magic #beautifulmoments #newfoundlanddogs #newfies #nannybreed #toddlersofinstagram #dogsofinstagram #cutenessoverload #cutedogs #dogsandkids
The meerkats garnered an equally eager response from her. With their enclosure more on her eye-level and the furballs infinitely more mobile than a sleepy Baikal (the tiger), they kept her engaged until she started making her own entertainment by attempting to push Maverick’s pram.
Along the list of other animals we met along the way were an assortment of tamarins and marmosets (teeny-tiny monkeys), armadillos (bet THAT Friends episode popped into your head), alpacas (a favourite of Jenna’s) and wallabies, where Roma and Maverick shared a really sweet moment as they stared at the not-kangaroos in-between cuddles.
Passing by the gibbons – give whoever named them Gremlin and Mogwai a raise – we ventured around to the rest of the big cats before finally arriving at the white lion enclosure.
Unsurprisingly, the cage belonging to the king of cats was surrounded – one woman was so eager she jumped in the space we’d created for me and Roma to stand in; cheers for that. And no sooner than that happened did Mufusa move further away. Unlucky love! We followed him along and, climbing his way atop the makeshift Pride Rock, he begun making his presence felt.
Closing time was drawing closer so we meandered around the farmyard area before heading over to the red panda enclosure, where we saw the Chinese imports tucking into some dinner before making our way back towards the exit.
But we didn’t depart quite before making use of the climbing wall since all the kids had vacated the area by this point. I need the practice after all since Tough Mudder is just around the corner.
By the time we left we’d barely clawed at the surface in the three hours we had there. In addition to the main zoo and farmyard that we did conquer, there’s a bird area, dinosaur trail, crazy golf, indoor softplay – handy if the rain comes down; a high probability in Britain – and various outdoor playgrounds too, all of which is set to add up to knackered tots. Indeed, what we encountered alone resulted in the pair nodding off on the drive back home.
With free entry for those aged under two, it’s safe to say we’ll be heading back before Roma’s next birthday. If you want to see more from the day, you can check out my Instagram highlights.