I hadn’t planned on sharing this post until next week but after I shared some videos of the snow leopards at Northumberland Zoo on my Instagram story yesterday, it’s one of those I thought I best get on and write quickly to answer questions in one go.
I hadn’t seen any press coverage at all about the arrival of the snow leopards at Northumberland zoo, which is in Felton near Morpeth, and we were driving back from Amble a couple of weeks ago when I saw a little sign on the roadside.
It turns out the two sister snow leopards, were supposed to join the zoo earlier this year but lockdown 2 put those plans on hold. They finally arrived though, a lovely Christmas present for staff at the zoo and us lucky people nearby who can visit them.
Snow leopards are endangered, but even the ones left in the world in snowy mountain regions in Asia are so elusive not many people get to see them. These two were born up in Scotland in 2019, so they’re still relatively young and apparently aren’t fully grown. But in being there it gives us a chance to see one of the most beautiful scarce big cats in the world.
We had to book tickets for a time slot entry, as with most places they’re limiting numbers and preventing crowds arriving all at once. For two adult tickets it was £20, but you can find all pricing for adults, kids and families on the Northumberland zoo website here.
We went up yesterday on a very cold and frosty morning, but of course the Northumberland countryside looked beautiful under it. Parking is free on site, your tickets are scanned as you go in and you’re given a brief rundown of the rules.
These basically include, wear a mask in any indoor space such as the gift shop and cafe that is currently only open for takeaway, and follow the one way system at all times. The snow leopard enclosure has two viewing windows, that are within a big hut so although it’s not technically indoors, you do have to limit to two households in there at one time.
We went with some friends, including little Aurora (she’s 1), and I know some people are interested in this but I haven’t got a clue – Hannah & Dale ever the prepared parents sacked off the pram as the ground is pretty uneven, and muddy in parts, instead they put her in a baby carrier which she seemed to love as she had the best view of all of us.
The zoo begins with a few small enclosures, including meerkats, little monkeys, ferrets and a very unique looking squirrel. Sorry I’m useless I didn’t take any notes of their real names, so I’ll leave that for you to discover yourselves.
We did the wallaby walkthrough, which is one of a few enclosures where you can go in with less fencing around the animals.
We saw owls which were fascinating, especially the snowy owls and the vampire owl which was pretty creepy looking sat in the dark at the back of his shed.
We saw goats, and other traditional farm animals like pigs, horses, a bull, Shetland horses and quite a few donkeys. There are also llamas, sheep and deer in the fields too.
One section takes you through a farm machinery display of tractors and cars, that also has a kids playground just outside. The only building we couldn’t go in was the hot house for turtles, reptiles and I’m told some creepy crawlies I probably wouldn’t have liked to see anyway.
The snow leopard enclosure is by far the biggest and is at the back. There’s a big outdoor area, which has a viewing window, and a big indoor enclosure too that has two windows under cover. It’s here where you can only go in with no more than two households, but there is plenty room.
We were so lucky that the two snow leopards were right there in the indoor enclosure in front of us. One was on the floor enjoying a bird for lunch, and the other was lying on a rock straight ahead.
I think she got a taste for whatever her sister was eating as she skulked right around the edge of the enclosure, right past the window giving us an incredible view of her beautiful markings, before trying to join in the feast.
They’ve got quite a roar on them as well, and they had a bit of a cat fight over the food together. Typical sisters!
They were honestly beautiful, I’m so glad we went to see them.
Moving on around the last sections of the zoo, we saw some lynx which were pretty impressive too, an enclosure of leemar which were hilarious, and an Arctic fox which was also beautiful with bright white fur.
The snow leopards were by far the most impressive, but overall the zoo was great for a couple of hours walk around outside seeing the interesting animals. They all have information on their enclosures explaining their diet, life span in the wild and life span in captivity here. It was amazing how much longer they all live compared to in the wild, so they’re obviously very well looked after.
We stopped by the cafe for a coffee and some snacks, and the gift shop which is filled with fluffy snow leopard gifts.
The zoo was bigger than I expected it to be for where it is, and aside from the snow leopards it surprised me how much was there. The snow leopards though are by far the best part of the experience, well worth the £10 admission fee on their own.
Kids would love the day out, it’s very safe and a lovely change of scenery. I think places like this are likely to be really struggling due to the pandemic and closure of local caravan parks and holiday homes, so I’m sure they’d appreciate the custom.
Are you going to visit the snow leopards at Northumberland zoo? Don’t forget to book your time slot on the website here.
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