A Camera Day Out at Chester Zoo

Tuesday 16 February 2016

You may or may not know that Tim and I are getting married at Chester Zoo in September? It's our fave place to visit together, and such a great day out, so it made sense to have the most important day of our lives together there! Chester Zoo does some amazing conservation work both at home and abroad (with field projects running in over 50 countries worldwide), and the 500 different species (of which about half of these are endangered) of over 20,000 animals who live on the 125 acre site are loved and cared for by the staff as if they were family. It quite rightly deserves it's reputation as the UK's number one zoo, and we loved the idea of having our wedding there, with the cost of the venue going straight back into the zoo itself. Thanks for having us guys!

Anyhoo, on Sunday we went to discuss some more plans with the fab events team, and afterwards we went scouting for potential photo locations for the big day. The zoo is even bigger now with the addition of the new world class tropical 'Islands' project which looked so awe inspiring in the pretty winter sun light, and we had an amazing time snapping our way around the whole site. The weather was crisp but clear, and all of the animals were feeling a bit posey so we got some amazing shots. Tim has recently bought himself a 70mm-300mm lens for our Nikon D5300 so this was the perfect time to get some practice with it. To the pretty ones!

The king of the jungle, or 'Mufasa' as we heard one little girl inform her dad. True though, what a handsome guy. Iblis is an Asiatic Lion, an endangered species with less than 350 left in India, he lives with two females and is an important link in the breeding programme.

Chester Zoo Lion

Chester Zoo Lion

This little guy is a Red Panda, and he was fast asleep on this precarious looking branch. Seriously though, when it comes to cute redheads he's right up there with Edward Cullen isn't he?! Unfortunately their beautiful red fur is also prized in parts of the world to make hats. Why are we so vile? :( Chester Zoo has successfully bred five Red Panda cubs in recent years, and supports the Sichuan Forest Biodiversity Project in their native land.

Chester Zoo Red Panda

PENGUINS! Always so much fun to watch and adorable. Chester Zoo has a colony of over 50 Humboldt penguins, playing an important role in a European breeding programme.

Chester Zoo Penguins

The Jaguar House is pretty much my mothership. I could stare at these beautiful big cats all day and luckily two of them were out in the open for us, including Goshi, the Black Panther, we couldn't believe our luck! They're absolutely huge and so majestic, I'm seriously considering the Jaguar House as one of our after hours safari trips before the evening party.

Chester Zoo Jaguar

Chester Zoo Black Jaguar Panther

Look at this face, how cute? The Black Rhino paddock is huge with a lot of outdoor space, but we found this cutie munching away at a yummy tree branch inside! Today there are less than 500 left in the wild :( Chester Zoo is one of the main organisations fighting for their survival though, through their Black Rhino Conservation Programme they have helped to set up projects to monitor rhino numbers and educate Kenyans and Tanzanians to protect them, and are also working closely with Save The Rhino International. We didn't see the newborn calf, but we were more than happy to have a chat over dinner with this one :)

Chester Zoo Black Rhino

Ahhh the Meerkats, always popular and drawing a crowd. Tim spotted this wistful thinker off by himself having a moment away from the manor, aww! He was probably checking for birds of prey or snakes. You can never be too careful you know?

Chester Zoo Meerkats

The North African Cheetah's are just stunning. A long time fave of mine (I was a Cheetara fan when Thundercats were a big deal!), I just adore the slinky grace of these pretty kitties. All of Chester Zoo's cheetahs are registered on the European Endangered Species Programme which carefully manages the breeding of zoo animals internationally. I used to be a little pouty about the zoo kept cheetahs because they don't really get the space to get a good run on, but the enclosure has been expanded recently and these guys looked like they could kick up their paws if they fancied it and if they're happy then I'm happy :)

Chester Zoo Cheetah

Chester Zoo Cheetah

The giraffe's are so tall, like I don't think you even get how tall they are in real life until you get up close to one. They are HUGE. Even the baby born just last Summer was touching the sky! The zoo is carefully managing the breeding programme and hopes to eventually have a whole herd of these beautiful Rothschild Giraffes.

Chester Zoo is committed to researching Elephant Herpes, a deadly virus which affects elephants of weaning age. The zoo has lost 5 young elephants to this disease, and currently no-one knows how to prevent it or fight it, so research is essential :( If you want to help, please donate to Act For Wildlife, led by Chester Zoo, you can be sure that 100% of your money goes to research into EEHV, and hopefully one day a cure can be found.
And yes, we saw baby Nandita! She is adorable, but either very quick on her little feet or constantly hiding behind mum so getting a good pic of her was almost impossible. The other ladies were on form though, such amazing and beautiful animals, we're lucky to share the planet with them.

Chester Zoo Elephant

Finally, I had to get some flamingos in didn't I? We are bloggers after all. If there was a marble enclosure of golden pineapples or mini cacti I would've been right there too ;) Seriously, how gorgeous are they? This photo made me laugh because it reminds me of a 'Spot the ball' game, heads up girls! This gang will definitely be in the background of our wedding shots!

I can't tell you how much I love this place. Some people frown at zoos in general but as I walk around Chester Zoo I'm always struck by how wonderful it is and what amazing things they are doing for conservation. I don't know what other zoos are like because I have no experience of them, though I suspect some are obviously better than others and others are probably seriously lacking in any worthwhile efforts to do anything more than entertain humans which is sad because when it comes to zoos, animal welfare, conservation and research should be their priority. I guess I'm lucky to live near the best of it's kind, and I'll support it for all the great things it does for our planet. We can't wait for our Chester Zoo wedding, it's going to be such a magical day!

J xoxo

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