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Monday, 5 September 2011

Wildlife on our Doorstep

Despite knowing about Marwell Wildlife Park for years, we'd never been. On August 31st, though, with our son, daughter-in-law and both granddaughters visiting, we all trogged off to Marwell (near Southampton and Winchester).  The visit was unforgettable.

We took about four hours to stroll around the recommended route, in addition to a picnic break - they don't insist you eat only their food, unlike theme parks - and there are plenty of clean picnic areas or grassy patches. (Vegetarian sausage and ketchup wraps featured strongly for us.)

Though signed as a zoological park, Marwell doesn't have elephants, lions or spiders. They specialise in endangered animals and those rarely seen in UK zoos.

So many stunning, odd, beautiful creatures, it'd take all day to blog about them all. But here are my favourites; unless attributed, the pictures were taken by John or me.

Giant Anteater - elusive, hiding
behind the post

The wondrous Capybara, by
Jay Dodge via

We've a huge ink line drawing of an anteater on our living room wall. The only colour ink used is a rusty red.
Ring-tailed lemurs - perky, friendly,
and keen sunbathers

 The ever-popular Meerkat
on 'sentry duty'
My personal favourite, the Okapi
By John Morris via
Visitors stand in the enclosure on the
right, and the Giraffes come very
close - a bit crowded at the time
so couldn't get face shot.

The okapi has a giraffe-like head, body and size similar to a horse, and rear end like a zebra. Marwell has several okapis, and each can be identified by matching the pattern of stripes on its haunches and hind legs to the pictures on the wall!

The three snow leopard cubs born 12 weeks previously would not come out of their 'cave' for their visitors, sadly, even though we waited, and waited ...  A good plan would have been to go straight to their enclosure on arrival (it's near the end of the recommended route), and if no luck, then to return later. And the gift shop can be quite expensive for some items. Entrance fees at first seem quite high, e.g. from now to end of October, £18 adults, £12 children, £50 family ticket, but I consider Marwell good value. Their website has all the details: . Prices in the gift shop can be quite high, although there's a huge range of wantable goods.

We all plan to return to Marwell sometime soon. It really is, as they say, "A Grand Day Out".

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