The family-run Isle of Wight Zoo was built within the ruins of a Victorian Fort. Located in Sandown, opposite the beautiful Yaverland Beach, its special interest is tigers and lemurs. Although the focus now is looking after older tigers, once upon a time the zoo walked tiger cubs on the beach.
We were at the zoo as part of a trip to the Isle of Wight which saw us explore Sandown, Shanklin and Ryde. We’d traveled over by ferry which meant we had the freedom to move about as we pleased. We hit the Isle of Wight Zoo as soon as it opened as it was high tide first thing in the morning. It did mean we missed seeing Casper wandering around although he did raise his sleepy head for us.
Tequila the jaguar was brought in by an animal entertainment troupe had behavioural problems when she arrived at the zoo following a less-than-happy home. She’s seemingly come on leaps and bounds over the past 16 years.
She was mesmerising to watch. Her dappled coat was beautiful and she seemed so well natured. On one hand you could almost imagine giving her a stroke, the old tyres reminding you what dangerous creatures they really are.
There are three species of monkey at the Isle of Wight Zoo – spider monkeys and capuchins with vervet monkeys behind the scenes. Full of energy they were bounding around having a whale of a time. POD loved watching them chase each other at great speed then head our way as if they were saying hello! The wallabies were great fun too and we loved the white one especially. There were all named after all the Sesame Street characters.
The Isle of Wight Zoo is home to a large collection of lemurs which originate from Madagascar. There were black and white ruffed lemurs, ring-tailed lemurs, white-fronted brown lemurs, red-ruffed lemurs, mongoose lemurs, black lemurs and grey mouse lemurs. Many reside in Lemurland which is the area of the zoo devoted to them.
Meerkats are fascinating creatures, they always strike me as being quite inquisitive. As well as those exploring, we got to see one asleep for a couple of minutes – on it’s back. Who knew they even did that!
The Isle of Wight Zoo has specialised in tigers for many years. There are currently seven tigers at the zoo, many of whom have circus backgrounds.
Zena is a rare white version of the Indian Tiger, she is just stunning and was more than happy to come over to say hello.
It was a wonderful moment when she attempted to get her older sister Zia to come and play with her. Alas she was unsuccessful and Zia was quite happy to lounge about in the sun!
POD thoroughly enjoyed seeing the animals and looking for those that were hiding. She even got to discover a dinosaur hidden beneath a sand pit, such a great idea.
Of course she had lots of fun in the playground too. Once more climbing as high as she could before launching herself at Daddy!
In addition to the zoo itself, the Animal Cafe and Education Centre has a number of small animals and reptiles on view. POD was so excited about these, she even grabbed one of the chefs to show him what she’d seen!
We had the best time at the Isle of Wight Zoo, it was the perfect start to our first visit to the island. Next time we’re there we must check out some of the hands-on animal experiences they offer, I rather fancy feeding the big cats!