Yesterday, as is now pretty much a school holiday tradition at The Madhouse, we headed to our local zoo to see the animals and take part in some kids craft activities that they were putting on. Juliette's gone camera shy at the moment which is why you won't see her out and about with us as much, but she's still there, just off camera !
The visit always starts with the seals' enclosure which you can view from above or below the water. The past few times, the seals haven't come anywhere near the big underwater window but this time they were gaily swimming past and doing back flips.
As we went up to the outdoor viewing area, they continued swimming around, then one came right up to the shallow edge and lay there, as if posing for photos, for about ten minutes before going back to swim some more.
Even the owls looked wide awake today, which is very rare.
We giggled as we walked past the flamingo pond and saw the peahen (female peacock) preening in front of the mirror.
The pelicans are obviously much more low-maintenance and vain as they looked quite scruffy ! We actually wondered if they are babies because they looked very fluffy on the tops of their heads.
The long-haired donkeys looked equally shabby because they were moulting and losing their winter coat. Another sign that the warmer weather is on the way - yay !
We headed over to the education centre where we had a reserved a slot for the crafts activity.
This time it was making a 3D picture of a nesting stork, complete with a chocolate mini egg popped in the chimney !
It was time to head back to the seals for their feeding time. At this zoo, they don't teach the animals to do tricks but they do do what they call "medical training", so that they will learn to open their mouths, roll over or allow themselves to be prodded and poked as needed.
They get a fish every time they cooperate so they don't seem to mind !
As we headed back to the other side of the zoo, we were amazed to see the otter out in his pen - he's normally tucked away in his little house out of sight.
And even the mink was running up and down the length of his cage - he's another one who is usually hard to spot.
The peacock kept teasing up by walking past with his train sweeping the ground but he refused to display his beautiful tail.
The bears were out and about and actually looking quite content.
They seemed happy hunting out the bits of fruit scattered around their enclosure and splashing in the water.
The walk-through aviary gave us a chance to get up close to the storks, that we had just been learning about in the crafts session. They kept clacking their beaks, which can be a mating call or a cry for help. As they were busy making nests and looked pretty chilled out, I'd say it was more the former though !
Before heading for home, we went to the marmosets enclosure and were astounded to see that, like most of the other animals, they seemed much less shy than usual.
They were sitting right up by the window peering out at the visitors. Maybe they were enjoying the attention because the zoo closes for a few months over winter so it hasn't been open for long this season.
It was feeding time, which meant that the keeper was dabbing a sweet yogurty nectar on the poles dotted around the pen.
They couldn't get enough of it, even if looked pretty disgusting to us !
They were obviously full of energy afterwards because they went leaping around the cage and one even did a very impressive spiderman impression walking across the roof of the cage !
I was pleased to see that the parrot's feathers have grown back because he looked a bit manky on our last visit ! There was just time for a quick look in the gift shop, then we headed for home.