So, our trip to Chester Zoo started with whining and complaining a-plenty and the words "get in the car NOW. We are GOING because some nice people sent us a free ticket and I have a review to write. And I want to see baby giraffes even if you don't, you ungrateful little philistine." Not ideal, but I am the Parent Blogger Who Tells The Truth and I will not deviate from this. I grimly strapped the grumbling little toerag in his car seat, gave him Les the Meerkat (long suffering favourite cuddly toy) for company and turned the music up to drown out the whining.
Thankfully, it did get better as Chester Zoo is brilliant, and Rory would have had to make a spectacular effort to keep up the grousing when faced with all the wonders that it contains.
We've taken Rory to zoos before, but he hasn't really appreciated them and as I surveyed all the crying toddlers in pushchairs that surrounded us, I have to say that taking a child under the age of three to the zoo might be a bit optimistic. It's definitely a trip for the over threes and you get the feeling that children appreciate it more and more and they get older. This was the first time Rory was genuinely excited about seeing the animals, and he grinned and chattered non stop all the way round, dragging us from one area to another and keeping up an enthusiastic running commentary. Having Les the Meerkat with us definitely helped as he liked showing him all the animals/threatening to feed him to the lions.
Incidentally, you really must consider going to the zoo out of season. It's so much more pleasant when it's less crowded and the cold didn't bother us at all, plus you get much better photos of the animals in wintery light.
It's hard to say what the highlights were as there were so many - this zoo is enormous. Rich and I were pretty impressed by the giraffes. We'd never seen them so close up before and were shocked at how enormous and fast they were, plus the baby one was adorable. The penguins were, of course, dudes. And the lions were being fed when we got to their enclosure which was both fascinating and mildly petrifying all at once. I liked all the weird animals like the whiskery orange pig things best, and the meerkats and porcupines went down well with all. We even managed to catch the 'flying sky train' (Rory's term - can't remember what it's actually called. The monorail anyway) from one side of the zoo to the other, which was fun.
However, an adult's idea of what's good and a small child's view of the same are wildly different. We all thoroughly enjoyed our day, but for different reasons, which I have tried to capture in the two photo collages below:
Actual cool stuff we saw
Top row: Elephant, flamingos having a domestic, enormous butterfly.
Middle row: Baby giraffe, a friend of Les, rhino.
Bottom row: Ginger whiskery pig thing, penguin, red panda.
Rory's Highlights - why Chester Zoo is good according to a 3 year old
Top Row: SKY TRAIN, something disturbing hanging out of a chimp's bum; maybe a scrotum - who knows, extortionate monster truck ride.
Middle row: Duck (yes, all those animals to see and he liked the duck best), filler graphics as ran out of photos, climbable elephant statue.
Bottom row: Sharing the experience with stuffed meerkat mate, some poo, balancing on stuff.
As you can see - differing opinions but we all ending up having a wonderful time, whatever the reasons, and that's what really matters. We'd all recommend a trip to Chester zoo, although be aware that it's not cheap. During low season, you're looking at about £45 for a family of two adults and one child for admission, and when you've added on the cost of lunch, added expenses like a charge for the monorail etc and a potential trip to the gift shop at the end it's going to be anywhere between £60-£100 for the day. We were sent our ticket for the review by Moneysupermarket.com, who have a voucher site, so it's possibly worth checking on there for deals first.
At the end of the day, we all had a great time and returned home with sore feet and that comfortable, happy feeling of having had a brilliant day out as a family with not a whinge in sight from the boy. Lovely. We'll definitely be back.
We were sent a free family ticket for Chester Zoo as part of the Moneysupermarket Britain's Best Days Out Promotion in exchange for a review.