WE’VE taken Santi to Folly Farm twice now. Once on his birthday, and once a couple of weeks ago.
It’s a great place, and definitely worthy of its status as Wales’ best day out. There are 50 different species – from lemurs to lovebirds, and meerkats to monkeys – and in two visits we’ve seen approximately 10 of them.
Yep, that’s right. 10. Out of 50. While certain animals have caught Santi’s eye – the penguins were a particular hit, but I’ll come back to that – our busy little bee evidently thought there were far more entertaining ways to fill the day than looking at animals.
So here’s my alternative guide to enjoying Folly Farm.
1. Find a hill:
We spent a good 10 minutes helping Santi up and down this hill. It’s within reach of the gorilla enclosure, but why would we want to look at them when we can work our quads? Oh, and when it rained we found an indoor hill so we could continue the madness.
2. Watch the wildlife:
But I thought you didn’t see any animals, I hear you cry. Never fear, it was a seagull that captured Santi’s attention. There was a bit of a stand-off at one point … Until one of the two flapped excitedly over to the other and scared it. That’s my boy, we won’t be bullied by birds.
3. The park:
At least this is actually something you’re supposed to do at Folly Farm! After many failed attempts at getting Santi away from the slide and towards the rhinos, we gave up. He was happy, so we were happy. It is a pretty good park to be fair – log ladders, tube slides and a rope bridge, all with protective wood chippings underneath. What’s not to like?! There’s also a great pirate ship that we didn’t make it to … We’ll get to that next time!
4. The land train:
At last, some animals! We saw llamas, sheep and goats from the land train, which drops you off at the piggery. Well, me and Stew saw them. Santi was too busy tapping the little girl in front on the shoulder and stuffing bits of cheese roll into his mouth to notice them. He did enjoy looking at the pigs though, and insisted on going back to the piggery three times just for one more look. There were piglets when we visited, which were super cute!
Where else can you spend the morning looking at animals (or climbing hills) and the afternoon honing your archaeology skills?! Santi loved sweeping the sand around with little brushes and we spent a fair amount of time in the dinosaur pit. It’s in the same building as snakes, fish and some little monkeys, so if you can drag your little one away from the sand it’s a good place to spend some time indoors.
After the Bluestone incident you’d think I’d be a bit more wary of slides, but this was a particular highlight for one of us … I won’t mention who, but it definitely wasn’t me (ahem). There’s a huge indoor play area at Folly Farm, as well as a penny arcade with rides and games, so if the weather turns grim you still have plenty to do. The giant slide is a-maz-ing. We might have gone on once or twice, or 15 times. Well, it was raining by then!
And finally, to the animals. Santi was very taken by the penguins and loved watching them underwater through the glass. He got so excited when they swam past – and when it started raining they just got faster! Older children can try the zookeeper experience and help to feed the penguins, which I think Santi would love in a few years’ time.
We also spent quite a lot of time watching the giraffes and zebras, which were my favourites. Santi has a thing for horses at the moment, so I think he was amused to see stripey horses wandering around. What’s great about the giraffe enclosure is that there’s a wooden platform you can walk up so you’re up at their level to see them close up.
And not forgetting the more traditional animals … we saw a huge horse, donkeys (another of Santi’s highlights) , chickens, and Stew milked a goat. As you do.
And that’s how you can spend a whole day at the zoo without really seeing any animals! It just goes to show there’s so much more to do at Folly Farm!
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