My mum is an anteater addict. So much so, that she has taken to visiting every zoo she can find in search of another long-nosed cutie. Therefore, when my parents suggested visiting Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens on a recent trip to Norfolk, I didn’t hesitate to agree. Sadly, it turned out that there were no anteaters at this particular zoo (Thrigby organisers take note!), but we still had a fantastic day out.
Thrigby Hall is located near the seaside town of Great Yarmouth. It covers quite a large area and it actually takes a decent amount of time to travel round and see it all. The organisers have thought carefully about getting the best view for visitors, so there are some fantastic ‘tree walks’ located around large enclosures so that you can get a bird’s eye view. This was particularly good in the tiger enclosure, where you got to be REALLY close…
There is also a humid ‘swamp room’, which homes alligators and crocodiles, as well as several aviaries and a beautifully laid-out ‘Chinese garden’. As a result, it is possible to get pretty close to the animals and see them in detail.
One of the highlights for me was the otters. I’ve never had the opportunity to see them before, so it was great to see these cheeky chappies playing in the water together. I also got my first sighting of a porcupine, which is a little bit like a giant guinea pig with spines. My dad was very successful at befriending them.
Another fascinating/repulsive/gross experience was watching a snake eat its lunch. Usually I am never lucky enough to catch a snake in movement, but this time I got more than I bargained for. As we came across its tank, the snake decided it was snack time and proceeded to slowly swallow a whole dead chick. It was pretty disgusting watching it unhinge its jaw and move the chick down its throat bit by bit, but it was also weirdly enthralling. Well, up until the bit where the entrails burst out… Funnily enough, I didn’t enjoy a meat feast for dinner that evening.
We followed up this experience with ‘feeding time’ for the tigers. The tree walks in this area are fantastic, and the side that edges the sleeping platform enables you to be within touching distance (if you were brave/stupid enough to poke your fingers at a fully-grown tiger).
Watching a tiger make short work of a bucket of chickens was, again, gruesomely fascinating. It was good to be reminded that these are wild animals that hunt – it’s so easy to see them as being cute and cuddly when in actual fact, they aren’t.
Other firsts for me included seeing my first black panther and a snow leopard.
So, if you’re an animal fan and want to spend a pleasant day wandering around a zoo, this place should definitely be on your hit-list. The entry price is a little bit expensive, but seeing as we got so much out of the day, I think we ended up getting value for money.