In our excellent vague planning on our drive up to Edinburgh we had decided to do a big out to Edinburgh Zoo so that Little Z would have at least one very child centric day out. What we didn’t realise at the time was that about 95% of Edinburgh was child friendly and that he was going to love pretty much everything we did. The castle, the walks through all the parks and gardens, the running up the Scot Monument and the wandering around the historic mile, as well as the very modern Princes street. The only thing we didn’t dare attempt with a three year old is Arthurs Seat. We hadn’t really looked into it properly and weren’t sure if there was a very easy path for a small child to run up. And then once he was at the top we weren’t very sure if he would stay relatively static in one place. So Edinburgh Zoo was going to be his big one. As well as the hubby’s if he’s completely honest.
Edinburgh Zoo is located about a 10 minute bus journey from Princes street and we piled onto a wifi friendly bus (everything happened to be very wifi friendly!), and made our way there. It was a quiet week day so the queues were non existent and we were in almost straight away. We’d been really looking forward to seeing the pandas and I’d known Tian Tian was due any day now but not kept up to date with it all and assumed she had given birth. Unfortunately we found out that she was about 8 days overdue at the time and the signs weren’t looking too good for her. It was lovely to see most of the zoo staff could tell you exactly how old she ws (11 years old) and that they were all still holding out hope that she’d have a little cub, especially after her miscarriage the previous year. Sadly, to date I’m not sure anything has been announced so I think its not going to be her year this year. I was surprised to find that Pandas enter oestrus (mating season) for 2 to 4 days a year. THAT’S IT!!!! So Mr Panda needs to really turn on the charm and the chocolates and the Barry White music or else its another year gone. Here’s hoping she has a much better year next year. So I didn’t get to see her but I did walk away extremely knowledgeable about Panda birth and breeding.
One of my favourite things to see was the Penguin rocks enclosure. They have a large number that happily flap and waddle and swim all day long and even do a daily parade outside of their enclosed area. We all dutifully lined up and, apparently, they will gladly swipe at handbag handles so we were told to keep them well out of the way. After a lot of excitement we watched the penguins come up to the door and then suddenly have a change of heart and take a running dive straight back into the pool. So we didn’t get our parade either but it was a lot of fun to see them waddle out to the gate in a group and take a nosey peek outside. Its also lovely that their keepers don’t force them to do anything they don’t want to. The penguins are much much in control and decide whether they want to put on a show that day.
The zoo was one of the best we’d been too and I realised I’d never seen a one horned Rhinoceros in the flesh before visiting there. Little Z kept insisting it was a “horsey” really loudly no matter how much we corrected him, and I swear I caught a glimpse of a cheeky smile from him hinting he was winding us up. With the Zoo being so vast with all its hills and walks he enjoyed giving his little legs a workout and pretty much ran around non stop picking up every perfect looking golden leaf from the floor. We spent a lot of time waiting for him to select his latest one from from the ground. His most favourite bit had to be seeing the Meerkats. He stills doesn’t quite get that Meerkats are not named Alexandser or Oleg, or that they don’t really wear clothes, so he spends a few minutes confused about why they’re running about in the nude. He was pleased to see them in their birthday suits nonetheless.
I was really impressed with the selection of animals and wildlife they hold. We saw everything from very large looking sea eagles to rhinos to a very big lion enclosure and its evident they are committed to giving their animals a good home. It’s a place that would take most of the day to get around. My one recommendation would be to take lots of snacks for little ones (and big ones). Most of their cafes and shops were shut so we resorted to buying a lot of cake from the coffee stand that we did find. We left with two very happy boys and talk of coming back again, next time to definitely definitely see the Pandas. Hopefully.