Animal Kingdom Part II

by Margaret Powling-

I have had another most enjoyable day. 

This morning I met a friend for coffee in what we call our ‘local’.  No, not a pub, but a lovely sea front hotel. 

Photo taken in summer a couple of years ago

My friend had a soya latte decaff and I had a cappuccino.  It was served with biscuits, but we shared the biscuits, each taking two home with us, and then sharing them with our husbands.  Aren’t we kind girlies?  It’s a lovely place to meet, no parking fees, a comfortable lounge or an attractive conservatory in which to sit and chat, and reasonably priced coffee, our kind of place.

When I returned home I heated up chicken curry I had made yesterday, so that was lunch easily dealt with. 

(Photo taken in January, but today’s was a similar chicken curry)

I then suggested to husband why not make use of our newly-acquired Zoo passes, and have a walk around the Zoo  again?  I fully expected him to say, “No, we’ve been once already this week …” but he was quite enthusiastic, and so I changed my town shoes for some boots, easier for walking around a zoo, and off we went. 

As we were approaching our car on our drive, our son, his wife and our little grandson were in their car, just going out.  They stopped to chat (they live only around the corner from us) and they said they were going for a walk around the local farm trail.  When I said we were going to the Zoo (again!) our little grandson said he wanted to go with Granny and Granndad to the Zoo, so they changed their plans and we all went.  We met them there, as we took both cars. 

Paignton Zoo is really quite large and I think you’d have to have a lot more stamina than we have in order to see it all in one day, all 80 acres of it.  And so we decided to see another part today, a different area from where we visited on Tuesday. 

First of all we made for the Reptile House so we could see the ‘crocodiles’ although I think they are actually alligators, dwarf caimans.   This is a large building with quite deep water filled with fish (not sure whether the alligators and caimans eat them, but perhaps they don’t feature on alligator menus? 

I’m not sure whether this chap is a dwarf caiman – he seemed large enough to me.  I would add there is glass between him and me!  Nonetheless, I’ve never been as up close and personal to anything like this before! 

Of course, we found lots of play areas for our little grandson who had a great time.  We also visited the meerkats and there was also a porcupine in their enclosure.

I had seen meerkats before but I had totally forgotten how small they are.  

We did a lot of walking around, up hill and down dale, as it’s a very hilly site. The baboon island was specially constructed many years ago – if you look carefully, you an see the baboons on the rocks.

I think we spent about two hours in the Zoo, and apart from sitting for about 15 minutes at one of the play areas, we were walking all the time.  By the time we returned to the car we were really tired, but in a very pleasant way, having had fresh air and exercise. 

After not having visited the Zoo for at least a decade or more, we have now been twice in two days!  There are so many more animals to see, we will certainly return again before too long. 

The flamingos, taken on my previous visit in June 2006

Margaret Powling


  1. Lara

    I bet your little Grandson was in seventh heaven ! Thanks for including the photo of the porcupine as I’ve never seen one. The nearest thing we have in Australia are echidnas, in that they have a spiny covering too, but they have a long, narrow ‘nose’ which is used to hunt out ants – and they are monotremes. This means that they are egg-laying mammals, just like the platypus (little wonder Captain Cook, Joseph Banks and crew did a double take when they encountered Australian fauna and flora !). Echidnas are very shy creatures and will curl into a ball with spines pointing out when they feel scared. They walk very slowly, or rather shuffle, and are very cute.

    Zoos are great places for children and adults alike. As you stated in your previous post, many zoos in the past were cruel places and it’s great that many zoos are now used as a platform to educate the public about conservation.

    21 . Apr . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, the little chap loves the Zoo! His mummy takes him there quite often, just for a walk and to go on the various play area pieces of equipment (all lovely imaginative things, wood construction).
      I’ve learned something this morning Lara, thank you … I’d no idea what a monotreme was and now I know! I love new information like that! I’ve heard of echidnas, and I expect I’ve seen them on natural history progs on TV, but I wouldn’t be able to describe one. Yes, the platypus is a strange-looking creature! I have a biog of Joseph Banks but not yet read it.
      Yes, there is great emphasis now on education and conservation in the zoo community.
      We will certainly visit the Zoo again and next time I hope to take photos of more of the green areas, as there are many, with lots of lovely trees, too; it is a botanical garden, as well as a zoological garden. It’s amazing that there are 80 acres of this within the Borough of Torbay, similarly the 460 acres of Cockington Country Park, and many other green spaces, too. It’s not all houses and shops, thank goodness.
      I have mentioned your echidnas to my husband, read him your description, and he says that they sound similar to our hedgehogs. Do you have hedgehogs in Australia? They roll into a ball, too, when scared.

      21 . Apr . 2017
  2. Eloise

    Being accompanied by young children offers a whole different perspective. I love the wonder on their faces. We had a lovely farm shop nearby, where they had llamas, alpacas and various small creatures and , of course, a marvellous little coffee shop which made it perfect for meeting friends). It was a great place to go with the younger grandchildren) but it closed last year after failing to get planning permission to extend the shop which they said they needed to do to make it viable.
    Excellent photos as always.
    I have never even heard of an Echinad, Lara, nor monotremes. What an educational post!

    21 . Apr . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      You are quite right, Eloise. Seeing Harrison enjoying himself at the Zoo made the day for us. There is a rare breeds farm at Buckfast – I think he’d enjoy that, too.
      I’d heard of the Echidna, Eloise, but I’d not heard of monotremes. It’s lovely to learn something new, isn’t it?
      Taking photos of the animals in the Zoo is difficult because (a) lots of people are also trying to see them (b) many animals are behind glass, such as the reptiles, and then you get reflection in the glass (c) the animals try and keep away from the visitors, obviously; they want a bit of peace and quiet. But we will go again, there’s lots more to see.

      21 . Apr . 2017

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