Marmosets, meerkats and much more at the Tropical Butterfly House, Wildlife and Falconry Centre
On a sunny crisp dry Sunday in January, I set off in search of the newborn baby pygmy marmoset twins at The Tropical Butterfly House in North Anston, on the edge of north Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire.
What a surprise that just five minutes off the M1, junction 31, you can get up close and personal with so many spectacular animals. I’d been wanting to visit for a while and what better time than following the news of the arrival of newborn pygmy marmoset twins? However after two hours of wandering (and a nice cup of tea and cake on the sofas in the Butterfly Cafe) they were actually the last animal encounter I had.
Walking through the gates, I was immediately welcomed by a huge bird which swooped and missed my head by centimetres. I think it was one of the types of vulture with humongous wing spans saying hello! Timing my arrival perfectly, an ‘aerial antics’ display had just begun which is a talk showcasing magnificent birds of prey and stunningly beautiful free flying macaws. Can you believe some macaws live well over 100-years-old? No, I couldn’t either!
Moving on past the ring-tailed lemurs in Lemur Heights, who were all standing in salutation to the sun with their little hands raised in front of them, I arrived at my favourite place, Meerkat Mansion! The whole family came running over to meet me, and I now realise they weren’t rushing to jump in my bag and be smuggled home to live at my house happy ever after (boo!), they were in hope I had a tub of wriggling mealworms from the gift shop. Cheeky scamps! Even though I shattered their dreams turning up empty handed, their shuffling, sunbathing and shifty escapades could keep me entertained all day.
Dragging myself away from the meerkat mischief, past giant tortoise, an American eagle who stared me out, playful goats and a whole world’s worth of wildlife; I look up to a teeny tiny baby Marmoset monkey with great big eyes looking right back at me. Which means I’m at the entrance to the Butterfly House where the baby lemurs live. Lemurs are the smallest primates in the world so you can imagine how small the babies are.
Inside, first things first, take off my jacket. The setting is a rainforest tropical climate – most welcome on a nippy January day. Secondly, smile! And I couldn’t stop. Instantly amazed by the rainbow of colourful butterflies fluttering around, stunning exotic birds which will feed right next to you, giant iguanas giving me the eyeball from the branches up above and my second favourite find of the day – cute little Egyptian fruit bats! Trying – but failing – to hide away from the world on the edge of the insect house.
Back outside and the last stop of the day is where I find the treasure! Inside the Small Animal House, busy with guinea pigs which you can pick up and cuddle, are the Marmosets and emperor tamarins. And looking a little closer, are the cutest tiny baby marmosets both clinging to their mum (or maybe it was dad). They’re only a few weeks old and safely guarded by both their parents and the Tamarins, but there for the world to see and fall in love with.
So whatever the day and whatever the weather, I can’t recommend a visit to the Tropical Butterfly House enough. For both little and big kids like me, the smiles the animals put on your face are priceless, especially in early 2014 while the baby marmosets are still so tiny. They really must be seen to be appreciated.
Go explore the wildlife in Notts – you won’t be disappointed! Further details on the Tropical Butterfly House can be found on the website.