Anyone who knows me knows that I love animals, both domestic and the wild version, and over the three years I've been a solo camper I've visited a few zoos while on my camping travels. Two of these zoos were exceptionally well set out and very interesting and it was at each of these I was able to get up close to some of the animals.
Africa Alive in Suffolk has an area called Lemur Encounters, a huge open enclosure where the public can walk among the many ring-tailed lemurs which live there, and my time spent in there was without doubt the best part of my visit to that particular zoo. There were dozens of them, from small babies to older adults, playing games of 'tig' amongst themselves, swinging on ropes, jumping onto fence posts and leaping in and out of the trees. One came to sit on the fence post right next to me and spent several minutes there before it jumped down and ran off to join its friends. It was fascinating watching them and I could have stayed there for hours.
My second close encounter of the furred kind was at Banham Zoo in Norfolk, where I booked a special fifteen minute 'meerkat feeding experience' with one of the keepers. Before going into the meerkat enclosure the keeper explained the do's and don'ts, then once inside the entrance area she produced a small plastic tub containing - horror of horrors! - a wriggling mass of brown mealworms. Urgh!! I absolutely hate anything which wriggles and squirms and I could feel my skin crawling just at the sight of these things - and I was supposed to feed them to the meerkats!
No way was I putting my hand in that box, so the keeper said that if I sat on the tree trunk in the enclosure she would drop the mealworms onto my lap and the meerkats could take them from there. I wasn't too keen on that idea either but she said the meerkats moved so fast that the mealworms would be gone in seconds. Oh well, in for a penny in for a pound - I was just glad I wasn't wearing shorts! So I sat on the tree trunk and waited for the onslaught - and true enough, as soon as the mealworms landed on my lap the meerkats dived in and they were gone before I knew it. I started to enjoy myself after that - the meerkats were fascinating, comical, and very cute little creatures, it was brilliant having them swarming all over me and some of them even allowed me to stroke them. And for a souvenir of my experience the keeper took several photos which I collected from the zoo reception about half an hour later.
It's a couple of years now since my encounter with the meerkats so I'm thinking that a return visit to that particular zoo may very well be on the cards for one day during my next Norfolk camping trip, but this time I might have a change and feed the giraffes instead!
Well, this post concludes the A to Z Challenge; I must admit that on a couple of days I've found it hard to think of something to write about, though strangely the most awkward letters have been the easiest, however I've stuck with it and like many others I've survived. So thank you to all those who took the trouble to stop by, read and comment on my ramblings, I hope I haven't bored you too much. And to those new followers, now I've finished the challenge I can finally find the time to write about my Easter camping trip and my next one this coming weekend, so I hope you'll check back soon to read about more of my travels.