Sunday, 21 July 2013

Zookeepers for the Day at Blackbrook Zoo

Hello, Blog Fans.  We had a unique experience this week.  No long walks.  No history to learn.  Just a nice day with some animals.

Prior to Christmas, I purchased a Groupon for each kid to be a zookeeper for the day at Blackbrook Zoo.  Blackbrook is a smallish, family run zoo on the southern edge of the Peak District (see map below).  They specialize in birds but have a few mammals as well.  Nothing big like lions, bears, elephants, etc. but still a nice little zoo.

The experience lasts from 10:30 to 3:30 and the kids are left with the zookeepers for that time.  During the morning they do some prep and feed a few animals.  We met back for lunch and then in the afternoon they watched a video and then did the public feedings of the pelicans, penguins and meerkats.  Since the latter feedings were public we got to see them for this.

For the morning, Kuk and I had a nice stroll through the zoo ourselves and it was nice to spend some time together.

For the last 2 weeks (one of which we were gone), the weather here has been unbelievably fantastic.  Blue skies, sunshine and temps in the upper 20s (low 80's F).  In fact, it's been downright hot given that we don't have A/C in the house.  It still cools down at night so its still nice.

Funny enough, the weekend has cooled back down to normal and the greyish skies have returned as well.

Blackbrook is between Ashbourne and Leek about 35 minutes away.

So off to see the zoo with Kuk while the kids were getting trained up:

 Purple Glossy Starling -- the green is a reflection unfortunately.

 flamingos -- Nicole learned that the dry food portion of their diet has pink dye in it to help the color.

 kookaburra through the fence

one of several peacocks roaming around

 huge stork

 Ah, something different than a bird.  Just a pig though.

 crown crane-- liked the hairdo

 unfortunately I didn't get a good photo of this cassowary -- these are some mean birds (link)

here's what they look like (from the web)

 some baby bird butts

we didn't realize just how big these pelicans are -- we'd be back at feeding time

 meerkat chilling

 nice one of Kuk -- she likes her flowers

 albino chipmunk


 feeding time (kids didn't help with this one) -- the glare is annoying unfortunately

 the baby sure was cute

 we had fun watching this guy eat -- he's working on a persimmon (sharon fruit)

 anyone?  don't remember the name of this one

 just guineas but they are cute

 hard to imagine this guy will ever grow into his feet

 meerkat pretending to be a vulture like Snoopy

 Patagonian Mara

Ok.  The kids are back.  It's time to feed the pelicans some fish.  Alex tossing some here.

 and Nicole

 and another -- look at the size of that beak and gullet

 Nicole and her handful of fish

Alex having fun

 crane on the way to the penguins

 Humbolt penguins

the kids being led to the penguin area and the penguins following closely in anticipation

more fish to toss -- Nicole mentioned that some of the prep work was to stuff the fish with salt since the penguins are living in fresh water instead of salt water

over to the meerkats -- there was a litter of 5 young ones altogether (w/ 4 adults)

hmm -- very young baby chicks -- Nicole with a head

 Alex feeding the chick to the meerkat

Nicole waiting in anticpation

I had pretty low expectations when arriving.  It was definitely a mom-n-pop, low budget affair.  However, Kuk and I enjoyed our quiet stroll through the zoo and the kids definitely had a fun day getting to feed the animals (they did smell like fish for awhile though).

crazy Alex showing off his blue icee tongue

Summer is here (school is over) and I mentioned that the weather has been great.  Alex really enjoys playing with the neighborhood boys.  I think it is going to be hard from him to leave when the time comes.  They really have a good time together and seem to get along reasonably well given the spread in ages (and the normal brotherly interactions).  He runs outside as soon as he gets home and they seem to be waiting for him as well.  I caught a few photos of the gang in action this week from our study window.

last weekend was hot enough to have a water fight

cricket in the drive -- he definitely won't be doing that back in the US

Have a good week everyone.


  1. Looks like a good weekend. Nice pics of the kids and the cute baby animals! I have been enjoying the nice weather as well, although where did it go this weekend?

  2. Alex was so cute. I wonder what it would look like if he licked a mirror with his tongue that color?

  3. if alex licked a mirror would his tongue streak still be clear?