Giraffes are back to shine at Twycross Zoo
With the school half-term holidays looming large, there is nothing more certain to send the kids wild with enjoyment than a taste of the animal kingdom.
So during the break, there is no need to look further than the ever-changing and ever-improving Twycross Zoo — a long-standing venue that now has some of its most popular characters back in residence, giraffes.
To put the appeal of the zoo to the test, my wife and I took our own little creatures — our seven-year-old son and five-year-old daughter — along with a couple of their friends on the short journey into neighbouring Leicestershire.
What is apparent immediately is the amount of money that has been spent on Twycross Zoo with incredibly attention to detail and an intent to create the best environment for the stars of the show, the animals.
It is unrecognisable from my visits there on school trips at least a couple of decades ago (cough, splutter!!).
From the moment you walk into the main Himalaya Visitor Centre you have to be impressed.
Packed with eateries, a gift shop and doft play, it all becomes dwarfed in spectacle when you realise that down one whole side is a huge enclosure that houses an awe-inspiring snow leopard.
Twycross has always made the most of its monkey enclosures and the view of tiny spider monkey’s carrying their young was enough to melt anyone’s heart.
A couple of the usual exhibits were off limits due to ongoing improvements.
But there was more than enough to keep the youngsters occupied as we wound our way through the site.
Views of the imposing family of elephants drew gasps of ecitement — as did the power and presence of the gorillas only softened by the site of a baby cheekily clobbering his father!
In stark contrast is the butterfly house with a fluttering of spectacular colour set in tropical climes.
While a winding walk drew images of Borneo with ponds peppered with flamingos and other exotic birds.
Around another corner and you were just feet away from a group of penguins posing for the cameras
Other animals putting on a show for the crowds included kangaroos, tufted deer and zebra.
But we were there — as the kids kept reminding us — to see the giraffes in their newly-contrusted home.
So we headed to the purpose-built facility which is now home to three male giraffes, Epesi, Setanta and Brad, who have travelled across land and sea to their new enclosure.
Visitors will be able to tell Epesi apart from the other two males by his distinctive coat which has liver spots outlined by clearly defined white lines.
The children had a real spring in their step after checking out the new stars and after blitz of the playground it was back to the car and a little shut-eye on the journey home.
l For more information on opening times and ticket prices at Twycross Zoo, visit www. http://twycrosszoo.org/ or call 0844 474 1777 or 01827 880250
Photograph by Martin Neeves Photography