Week 6: The Tinneys visit Wetlands Animal Park, Retford
Wetlands Animal Park was the sixth and final destination of our fantastic prize from Experience Nottinghamshire.
Wetlands Animal Park and Waterfowl Reserve is set in the north Nottinghamshire countryside about 5 miles from Retford. The park surrounds two lakes full of wildlife and incorporates a natural woodland area.
The girls were jumping around with excitement when we found out that our first activity of the day was to take part in the Meerkat Experience. We walked around the lake to the Meerkat enclosure, where we met Emily, the Meerkat Keeper.
Emily explained to us how to feed the Meerkats, and what they eat – crickets, Locust, meal worms and chicken, were on the menu that day. (Not an experience for the squeamish!)
She took us in to the enclosure, and we were immediately surrounded by the hungry Meerkats. I stayed at a safe distance behind my camera – not to avoid the Meerkats which were lovely, but to avoid the contents of the bucket!
It was amazing to be so close to these lovely creatures, and an experience that the girls will always remember. Even more exciting though than being allowed to feed the Meerkats, was having the chance to take Meela for a walk.
Meela has been hand reared, after she was abandoned by the pack, and so is very friendly! The girls just loved their Meerkat Experience, and are still talking about it now. Maisy couldn’t wait to get back to school to tell her teacher and her friends all about it.
If you visit the Wetlands website, you can book a Meerkat Experience too – I think it would make a great gift for an animal loving child.
Our second treat at Wetlands Animal Park was a chance to take part in a Barn Owl Experience. Under the watchful eye of Annette the park’s Falconer, we all had a chance to meet Ghost, a beautiful Barn Owl; and to fly her straight to our gloved hands.
Molly was the bravest, and volunteered to go first. She was brilliant, and soon got the hang of calling to the bird and feeding it rewards. Maisy wasn’t sure at first, but she decided to have a go, with Annette beside her, and soon managed it all by herself. Then it was our turn.
Afterwards, Annette showed us around, and let the girls handle some of the other owls… The whole experience was amazing!
The birds are absolutely beautiful, and we were all struck by how silently they fly, and how they weigh next to nothing despite their huge wing spans.
Thanks so much to Annette for the whole Barn Owl Experience, like the Meerkat Experience earlier in the day, it was unforgettable, and a real highlight of our summer.
After lunch at the little cafe which overlooks the lake, we had a few minutes to pet a skunk, and to feed some ponies: before we went back to the Falconry Centre to watch some more owls and a Harris Hawk in a bird of prey flying display.
Afterwards, we’d plenty of time to wander around the park and meet some more of the animals and to say goodbye to the Meerkats that we’d met this morning.
We’d a brilliant day at Wetlands Animal Park. It’s definitely a place that we will return to again and again!
Thanks to Emily and Annette for our two Experiences, and for being so lovely and patient with the two excited girls, and also to the staff in the Cafe for our lovely lunch.
And a final, but HUGE thank you to the girls at Experience Nottinghamshire for organising such amazing trips for us, and for making our Summer holidays so memorable.