Easter in North Wales – Day 4

My plans for the penultimate day of my break depended on sunshine and blue sky, neither of which were evident that morning. It looked okay over towards the coast but my intended destination was several miles inland and white sky with grey cloud wouldn’t be a good look on my photos. There was no real improvement by lunch time so after a trip to Asda to get some supplies I took myself off to the Welsh Mountain Zoo in the hills above Colwyn Bay; if I was photographing animals it didn’t really matter what the sky looked like.
In 1897 a Manchester surgeon, Dr. Walter Whitehead, purchased 37 acres of woodland above the new and expanding resort of Colwyn Bay with the intention of retiring there. The layout of the new estate was designed by Thomas Mawson, the renowned Victorian landscape architect, who based the project on idyllic woodland walks, herbaceous borders and formal rose gardens as well as homes for staff. After Dr. Whitehead’s death in 1913, the estate changed hands several times until the site was taken over by the Jackson family in 1962 and formally opened as a zoo the following year.
 A short walk from the zoo car park a large grassed area had been roped off to form an arena and I was just in time to catch the last few minutes of the birds of prey flying display. The barn owl was lovely but the turkey buzzard was one of the ugliest creatures I’ve ever seen though I suppose someone must love it. Next came the penguin parade with the keeper walking round with a bucket of small fish which he continually threw to the Humboldt penguins following him, though the odd one or two wandered off to say hello to various visitors and a couple of them came close to me. A circuit of the arena and they went back into their enclosure then it was time for the sea lion display in the pool a few yards away.
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After seeing the sea lions I wandered up, down and along various paths and steps from one exhibit to the next although not in any particular order. Unfortunately I missed quite a few things, including the snow leopard, brown bear and tigers; the zoo covers quite a large area and as I popped back to the van every so often to check that Snowy and Poppie were okay I completely forgot which sections I’d been to and which I hadn’t, also some of the animals themselves seemed to be hiding from view.
Red necked wallaby
European otters
A young fallow deer
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Red faced black spider monkey
Penguin pool
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Tamarin
No idea what this is but it looked cute
Przewalski’s Wild Horse, native to Mongolia
Just three days after my zoo visit there was a new arrival on April 21st, a foal called Khan, the first Przewalski’s Wild Horse to be born at the Welsh Mountain Zoo since 1995, and looking at my photo I rather think that could be his mother, Wendy. The Przewalski’s Wild Horse was completely extinct in the wild by 1966 but following a successful captive breeding programme they have since been reintroduced into their natural habitats among the reserves and national parks of Mongolia, meaning their conservation status has been reclassified from “extinct in the wild” to “endangered”.
Photo courtesy of Welsh Mountain Zoo
Zoo foal
Photo courtesy of Welsh Mountain Zoo
Murals on a picnic shelter wall
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The zoo isn’t just about animals though. The garden areas are made up of an ever-expanding collection of plants and seeds from around the world, some of which are considered rare and endangered and all of which grow well on the hillside site, with a host of other unusual tropical plants growing in the reptile and alligator houses.

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With the blue sky and sunshine having gradually increased while I was in the zoo and the dogs deserving a decent walk I decided to go down to Colwyn Bay’s seafront and walk along the promenade for a while. Being later in the afternoon there weren’t too many people around so it was a very pleasant walk which just rounded off the day nicely.

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On Colwyn Bay pier
If I have one criticism about the zoo it’s the signs pointing to the different exhibits. Presumably in an effort to make it more interesting for children they are made up of small colourful pictures (not photos) of the animals in any particular area but I found some of them hard to distinguish, which is probably another reason why I missed several exhibits. Other than that it’s a very nice place and I may very well go back sometime in the future to try and find the things I missed this time.

13 thoughts on “Easter in North Wales – Day 4

  1. It’s a long time since I’ve visited the zoo so have enjoyed seeing all your photos of the animals, especially the penguin parade. I tend to agree the wild horse looks to be pregnant so maybe she is the young one’s Mum. Nice to see Poppie and Snowy on the pier.

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    1. The penguin parade was great, they are such funny creatures on land but so graceful underwater. Snowy and Poppie were so good in the van that they deserved a decent walk afterwards 🙂

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  2. I may not be a lover of zoos in the traditional sense, but I’m always happy to see conservation successes such as the Przewalski’s Wild Horse’s re-introduction into the wild. Some smashing pictures of the animals Eunice, and I’d be a hypocrite if I was to say I didn’t like seeing them as well 🙂

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  3. I was never that keen on zoos as they used to be years ago, even when I was a child I hated seeing all the animals behind bars and in cages, but with larger and more open enclosures set up to closely resemble the animals’ natural habitat these places have come a long way from what they once were, and I think most of them do their bit towards some form of conservation. I’ve never agreed with wild animals being kept in captivity but it’s probably the only way to ensure the survival of some species.

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  4. You got some amazing photos at the zoo even if you didn’t see everything, you’ve captured some great images. When I saw your rare horse photo I thought ‘ well she looks like she might be expecting’ and then when you found out about the new arrival, it all became clear. Wonderful conservation! Nice photo of Snowie and Poppy at the end too. X

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  5. I took a lot more photos than what’s on here but it was impossible to put them all on. I wish the foal had been born just a few days earlier as it would have been lovely to see him. Snowy and Poppie are notoriously difficult to photograph, that’s why they don’t appear on this blog very often, but I thought I should include at least one shot of them just to prove that they do come with me on these outings 🙂

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  6. What a lovely day out & although I’m not the biggest fan of zoos, there is now way I’d have ever seen things like animals from Africa or other places I’ll never visit. I noticed the wallabies and of course penguins are southeners and we have a fair share of them down here, mainly the Little Penguins as we can’t call them “Fairy Penguins” any more. How silly!!! My favourite zoo and the one I grew up with is Taronga Park overlooking Sydney Harbour and it is extremely large and covers a hill side leading down to the Harbour. I’ve enjoyed your Wales trip too and although I sometimes can’t comment (don’t know why), always read. Thanks, take care & hugs.

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  7. I’m laughing now at the fact you can no longer call the Little Penguins “Fairy Penguins” – how absolutely ridiculous. I wonder who felt offended enough for them to have their name changed. I don’t know why you sometimes can’t leave a comment, I’ve never changed anything about the blog since I set it up so I can only assume that it’s something to do with WordPress itself that causes the occasional glitch.

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  8. I agree with you about the turkey buzzard, really bizarre looking.They were called zoological Gardens because first and foremost they were gardens adorned by plants and animals.

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