I love exploring the natural world and visiting zoos where ever I go. I have now been to many zoos throughout the UK (and have been lucky enough to visit a few around the world), and have been on a fair number of wildlife tours on my travels. I’ve found it can be hard to pick one tour from a crowd of operators though, or to know what to expect when you’re going somewhere new for the first time, so I intend to write reviews in the coming months of some of the zoos and tours I have experienced. I’m only going to write reviews about places I’ve visited within 5 years of writing the review, and each tour or zoo will get a rating out of five stars, one star each representing something I feel is important for such places to have.
Stars are awarded for:
- The animals you can see. On a tour meaning the range of wildlife you can see, and at a zoo it’s the quality of the collection there.
- How well treated the wildlife or captive animals are. On a tour, this means did the company disturb them, and at a zoo this means what were their enclosures and enrichment like. To me this is the most important part of paying to see animals, both in the wild or in captivity. I’d rather see happy, well looked after stick insects than unhappy, bored orcas, for me knowing that the creatures are impacted negatively by being viewed by people (or being put in an environment so they can be viewed by people, as in zoos) ruins the experience for me.
- The quality of the information on the animals given to the public. This is another facet of animal experiences that is very important to me, if companies are charging people to see animals, in zoos or in the wild, then I believe it’s their duty to educate people about what they are seeing, to raise awareness of the species and of any conservation issues facing them. On tours this frequently means how good the knowledge of the naturalists is, as they spend the tour educating you about what you are seeing. At zoos it means the information signs around the exhibits, how staff respond if asked questions about the animals and what any animal ‘shows’ or displays are like.
- The quality of the boat or zoo grounds and the facilities available to you. Not as important but something that some companies or zoos really put effort into so I want to be able to show it’s appreciated! Basically means how nice is it to spend time there as a visitor and how easy is it to meet your basic needs.
- How friendly and helpful the staff or company is. Pretty self-explanatory! Includes any staff member of the company or organisation, from the naturalists, boat captains and deck hands, cafeteria staff, the people selling the tickets at the office… anyone!