It sounds like I’m going to be chatting about the classic film The Wizard of Oz doesn’t it? Well, I’m not, so I hope you won’t be too disappointed? I am, however, going to tell you about the lions and tigers and bears on the magical Isle of Wight. We British are said to be a nation of animal lovers, and Dave and I are no exception so we are delighted to be surrounded by so many different species.
We are extraordinarily privileged to have such a variety of animals on our Island – I’m talking animal attractions and encounters here, not our rich wildlife (maybe a good subject for another day though). We know that many of you are also animal lovers and will want to know what you can see when you visit the Isle of Wight. Just bear in mind (see what I did there?), even if you stay for 7 nights, and you visit one animal-attraction per day, you will not be able to see them all!
Of course, I must tell you about the Isle of Wight Zoo first as, being so local to us, you will hear Casper the lion roaring while you’re relaxing outside your chalet – our guests love this as much as we do. Yes, I’ve used the word ‘Zoo’ and I do know that animal lovers share our concerns about some zoos. I’m very pleased to say, however, that our Sandown ‘zoo’ has developed over the years from a zoo into a ‘Sanctuary’.
A Sanctuary with a Big Heart
Breeding of animals no longer happens at the sanctuary. We no longer see any tiger cubs being walked on the beach (yes, that did happen in the 1970’s!). Instead, the brilliant staff and volunteers provide love, care and a forever home to animals who have been mis-treated so that they can live out the rest of their lives being loved and cared for.
Now operating as The Wildheart Trust’ charity, with their vision “where people care and conserve our planet and the animals we share it with”. There are daily talks and presentations, animal encounters, and the animals they care for include lions, tigers, lynx, lemurs, meerkats, monkeys, small mammals, farm animals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. Be sure to say ‘hello’ to Samuel the Cockatoo and he will say ‘hello’ back
Our Top Tip
Our top tip is to join at least one of the free daily ‘safaris’, where we get to find out so much more about the various animals and we can ask questions too. I was even brave enough to go to the reptile talk which included a tarantula (I didn’t look!), very large stick insects and a hissing cockroach (I bravely took a look at the cockroach!).
Not Just Animals
As well as the main attraction of seeing all the animals up close, our grandchildren love being able to collect ink stamps onto a card, with a little treat for all those completed, and also the brilliant themed children’s playground for the younger ones. We usually stop for either an al fresco picnic in the areas provided, or we treat ourselves to something from the onsite café. No visit is complete without a visit to the shop – so many souvenirs for all ages, you might like to ‘adopt’ your favourite animal. Find out more on their website here . You can even watch 24 hour webcams of rescued lion brothers Vigo and Kumba – they look so cute cuddled up together for bedtime.
A Big PS
I’m so sorry I have not mentioned the Isle of Wight bear today, that is something I will save to tell you all about another time……….
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