Monday, 12 May 2014

Tropiquaria


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
Each cage, tank or enclosure also had information about the species, where it was from and it's conservation status - perhaps not of interest to the Park's younger visitors but I liked it.

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.

Would I recommend others going?  It would depend.  If you have young children then yes, maybe I would.  They can get close to animals and as it is a smaller and more intimate place than other big zoos then it is perhaps more suitable for younger children.  I had rather expected more from their web page and if I had known what was there it would have been less of a let down.

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?

38 comments :

  1. I do like how up close and personal you can get with the animals, and you've some great shots of that!

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    1. Thank you Jocelyn - with so few people there the boys got plenty of time handling the animals which made up other parts of the Park which were not quite so good.

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  2. Wow – love Algernon!!!!!! All looks like so much fun. #MagicMoments indeed! Sending love from Maddie at Gammon & Chips. xoxo

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    1. He is impressive isn't he and weighs in at 5 stone!

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  3. Love the picture of Tom and the python! You're right... it doesn't sound as bright and airy as Battersea, but at least the animals seemed well cared for. And great the boys got to interact with the reptiles. #magicmoments

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    1. Indeed - better to have well cared for animals above anything else.

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  4. Sounds like a really interesting place to visit, bet the boys loved holding the snake! Unfortunately it's quite far from us being just outside London, so I don't think we'll be getting there any time soon... #MagicMoments

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    1. They love snakes but I have told them no to having one as a pet!

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  5. We went when I was little and it was good but small. I did get to hold a tarantula and scared little brother with it though ;-)

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    1. Ooh - I am OK with snakes but not sure I could hold a tarantula!

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  6. Went past this on our last trip to Minehead and thought it looked like Colditz. Happy that the animals are well cared for, but not that tempted.

    #MagicMoments

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    1. In a better location I think it could be a much more inviting place.

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  7. The photo of Tom with the Python is brilliant #LetKidsBeKids

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    1. Thank you - it tried to go up his sleeve afterwards and he was laughing so much.

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  8. Looks like your children had a good time and always good to know the animals are well cared for.

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    1. The handling was without a doubt the best bit.

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  9. Although there were a few down points to ur visit it sounded like the kids had fun my kids love getting close to animals when ever they can popping over from #magicmoments

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    1. Exactly - it was not a complete disaster.

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  10. Sounds like the kids had fun even if the place sounded dreary #magicmoments

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  11. Getting close with the animals is a great experience for children. Shame it wasn't as good as you were expecting, but it does look like your boys had a good time.
    Thanks for linking #LetKidsBeKids

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    1. Exactly so it certainly wasn't a complete disaster.

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  12. We opted for Dunster castle last time we went to Minehead and when on holiday there before last year we went to another small place near tropiquaria and had fun there, I'm glad we didn't go there! Good that the animals are well kept. #letkidsbekids

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    1. Dunster is definitely on the list for my next visit!

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  13. Interesting post - Ive never heard of it but I like the fact the children get lots of hands on experiences - hopefully it made it worthwhile.

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    1. It would have been a lot of money spent without the handling.

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  14. I have to admit that that entrance is a bit too much for us. A nice place but probably not for us who is trying to save. #LetKidsBeKids

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    1. I think you could spend your money better somewhere else but the handling was good.

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    1. Handling the animals was, without doubt, the best bit of the day.

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  16. Oh wow Rosie, it sounds brilliant here! What a treat to be able to get up close and personal to the animals too, I love the photos especially the python and the bearded lizzard! I hope you had a great trip and a safe journey home. Wonderful post, thank you so much for sharing #whatsthestory

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    1. We arrived home safely on Saturday after a very bumpy crossing!

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  17. Looks like great fun x how awesome, Two very brave boys x

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    1. They are very used to animals with all that we have here - although nothing quite as exotic as these.

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  18. ohh that python i just cant put a snake on my little boy, how can i

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    1. They are in fact very gentle and too small to do any harm ... and very used to being handled. All the kids love the snake!

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  19. Well, it might not be the biggest or brightest, but it does look like the boys had a fab time with the animals. It's nice to be able to get that close x #MagicMoments

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    1. It is but a lick of paint could go a long way to improve it!

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