So I have had an exciting weekend away visiting my sister, in a warm, sunny and very hip Bristol.
One of the conditions for my visit was that I was allowed to treat her to a visit to Bristol Zoo, a conservation zoo founded over 150 years ago and located down the hill - a long way down the hill as it turned out - from Clifton Suspension Bridge of which more later.
It was a very hot day, and this tended to make the animals rather torpid although I don't think the pride of place two asiatic lions needed much of an excuse to flake out, to be honest.
It's a long time since I've been to a zoo - probably over 20 years at least, and things have changed greatly in this time. Bristol Zoo is no longer about having the big marquee animals like elephants, big cats and other mega-fauna, but rather perhaps less glamorous species in need of conservation. Animals are sourced from rescues or other collections, no longer the wild, and the rarest creature in the place is a species of snail now classed as extinct.
However, that isn't to say there aren't some very striking animals present, and on a hot day like Easter Sunday all manner of of families were out there to see them, followed by crowds of jackdaws looking out for dropped beefburgers.
The highiight for both me and my sister was probably the penguin and seal enclosures. The penguin enclosure has a number of african penguins pottering about, but also a squadron of stunning black and grey terns that swoop around your head screaming.
We met the seals just in time for tea-time. At the sound of a whistle all 4 of these beautiful creatures stopped swimming and leapt 5 feet out of the water onto their appointed rocks, to be given mackerel in exchange for performing moves that while keeping the crowd entertained - diving, spinning on the spot, raising fins or barking - enable their keepers to assess the health of the animal.
Sentimental visitors would have enjoyed the fact that the lemurs and the golden lion tamarinds had babies. No weepies or cooing from me though, I'm made of sterner stuff. Indeed my favourite individual animal was the big silverback gorilla, who sat with his back to the visitors and deliberately refused to allow any photo opportunities of his face. My spirit animal!
All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 22.04.19