Thursday 27 April 2017

Madhouse diaries : A trip to the zoo with the Madhouse grandparents

When the Madhouse grandparents and Auntie Em came over for the day on Sunday, we decided to make the most of the sunshine and the free weekend buses and head to the zoo in neighbouring Fort Mardyck.

It's only a small zoo but what we love is that the animals are really friendly and always come out to be admired. As usual, we took note of the feeding times when we arrived and decided to see as many of them as possible.

First was the bears' feeding time. When we arrived at their enclosure, one of the bears was sitting right up next to the window, which was very impressive.

It's crazy to think there was just a sheet of glass between us and an enormous great bear !

The other one was looking very chilled out, laying on a tree trunk in the sunshine.

They did start wandering around when the zookeeper threw in chunks of fruit and vegetables for them to eat.

He looked like he probably would have liked to go hunting for salmon but he had to make do with some radishes and apples instead !

If you look at just their faces, bears actually look incredibly like dogs.

On to some smaller animals, starting with these cute but stinky goats.

Despite spending ages stroking the donkeys and ponies at the Ferme Vernaelde last week, Pierre was very taken with the dwarf donkey.

Time for a quick toilet and drink stop ...

... and a quick play in the play area ...

... then it was time to head over to the otters for their feeding time. As well as eating fish, we were surprised to learn that they eat eggs and chicks.

They were so hungry (or greedy !) that they were climbing up the fence, making a strange squeaky noise that sounded like a cross between a guinea pig and a cat !

Despite lots of encouragement, the peacock couldn't be persuaded to put his tail feathers up !

The final feeding time of the day was the seals.

They don't do audience-pleasing tricks, as they want to keep the animals as wild as possible, but they do do what they call medical training - they train the seals to come, roll over, lift their tails and so on, because then they can easily carry out medical procedures such as blood tests, checking their teeth and feeling them all over without using general anaesthetic, which is impossible on a seal because they don't breathe automatically - they breathe consciously.

One seal didn't want to join in, which was his prerogative, but it meant he missed out on the fish !

 The pelicans were very happy to finish off the slops from the bottom of the fishy bucket.

On to birds of a different kind - the storks in the walk-through aviary. Pierre is nearly as big as a stork now, in terms of wingspan (which shows how much he's grown !).

They were busy building nests or sitting on them.

The prize for weirdest-looking animal goes to the giant anteater.

Or maybe this one ... oh no, that's Madhouse Grandad !!

Look Mum, I'm a cheeky monkey !

Pierre wanted to get in on the selfie-taking ... he still needs some practice though because he chopped Nanny off completely !

Aah that's more like it !

Country Kids


  1. That looks like a fab zoo and a fantastic day out!
    It is great that they like to keep the seals wild and don't have them doing tricks. That really made me smile.

    1. They only have animals that live within France naturally and some of the animals are rescue animals that are too old or infirm to be released - one of the seals, for example, is totally blind. The bears are cubs, now grown up, that were used in a Hollywood film and had outgrown their purpose but couldn't be released in the wild because they'd been tamed.

  2. I remember photos of Pierre with the stork's wings, he has grown up a lot. Looks like a lovely day to spend with the family. Lots to see and do.

    1. They're our yardstick - I have pics of the girls who can't reach the tips too !!

  3. What a great day out, it's fab that your family managed to stop over and visit the zoo with you. The range of animals they have there is impressive, it's great that there's so many to see and that you can watch so many feeding times too. Pierre looks like he had a fantastic time photographing you all too.

    Thanks for linking up with me on #CountryKids.

    1. We always manage to pack a lot in on a day trip ! :)

  4. This looks like a lovely zoo to go to, and I'd be capitvated by the bears. Living here in Sweden we have brown ones in the wild, but luckily I've yet to meet one! #countrykidsfun

    1. Awww I'd love to see a bear in the wild ... from a safe distance !

  5. Those bears look so beautiful, hard to believe how dangerous they can be isn't it #CountryKids

  6. This looks like a lovely day out, the bears are beautiful and I adore otters - and the cute squeaky sounds they make!

  7. What a brilliant day out. So lovely to see so many of the animals being fed. I love the photos of the bears - I never thought about the fact that their faces are similar to dogs but I can see the similarity there. Love that Pierre almost has the wingspan of a stork :-) #countrykids

  8. When we went to Canada Monkey really wanted to see the bears. He would have loved this and the fsct your are so close. What a fab zoo! #CountryKids

  9. Great photos of the bear


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