Posted by Rosie
|Algenon the Giant Tortoise|
For the last full day of our trip to England there was a toss up between visiting Dunster Castle or Tropiquaria. As I also needed to go food shopping I thought it best to let the boys chosse what they most wanted to do so I could lessen the bitter pill of having to come shopping with me! Tropiquaria it was to be then.
I knew nothing of what to expect but assumed by it's name that we would be visiting a large aquarium. Not quite so it would seem. Housed in a Grade 2 listed building (a 1930s BBC transmitter hall) it appeared a rather dreary place when we drew up and I have to say this dreariness continued as we went in. Both the aquarium and reptile areas were small, although they did contain some interesting and unusual species.
Outside there was a motley collection of cages with birds and mammals, a couple of large play areas and a large play barn. There was supposed to be a shadow puppet show but that wasn't showing on the day we went and there was also a radio museum. Well, there was a collection of old radios and equipment stuffed into a crowded room with little information about them and I did feel this was rather a missed opportunity to show the lost age of pre-internet radio communication. Apparently the listing status of the building restricts what the owners can do with it but this didn't could not be used as an excuse for the outside areas. It also felt to me that it couldn't quite decide what it wanted to be - an aquarium, a zoo or a children's play area, never quite succeeding at any of them? Perhaps the fact we were there out of UK school holidays added to the lack of atmosphere with just one small school party and 2 or 3 other families with toddlers there with us.
However there was some good plus points. All the animals we saw appeared in good condition and well fed. Throughout the day there were several animal talks and opportunities to meet and handle animals. With so few of us there (the school party had gone) the boys had plenty of time to stroke and hold a variety of animals. The keeper was happy to answer our questions and said that many of the animals had been rescued from the illegal pet trade or as in the case of Stanley the macaw rescued from an abandoned pet shop where other pets had. He must feel much happier now having the freedom of the reptile room. There was also Algenon, a giant tortoise who was on a temporary visit after the farm where he lived was flooded in the winter. He was a great character and spent most of the time during the animal handling sessions escaping out of his enclosure to walk around the reptile area!
|Ben stroking Podge the Skunk|
|Tom and a Tenrec (an unrelated hedgehog like animal)|
|Tom "wearing" a Royal Python|
|Ben and a Bearded Lizard|
Would we visit again? I rather think not but then the boys are at the top age range for a place like this. However they really liked the animal handling and giant pirate ships in the play area.
And there is one final point to bear in mind. At £24 for the 3 of us it was not the cheapest day out but that money is used to feed and shelter a considerable number of animals. Without this money the park could close and then what would happen to the animals?
Have you been to Tropiquaria? If so what did you think of it?