GRAND DAYS OUT
Heard the one about the grandparents who took a small boy to the zoo and came home with a tiger in the car? Derek James reports.
See the tigers at Banham Zoo
We entered Banham Zoo with a four-year-old boy and re-appeared several hours later with a ferocious tiger, but one who was laughing and smiling between roars and proudly wearing a medal.
This was a special International Tiger Day – to raise awareness and help these endangered animals - at the attraction which has been part of our lives since 1968.
And our grandson Gabriel had turned into a tiger.
Hands up all those reading this who have been to Banham Zoo in south Norfolk over the years as children, with children or grandchildren or just on your own.
And remember, you don’t have to be young to have a good time. Why should they have all the fun?
I first visited Banham when working as a “cub” – get it? - reporter in the 1960s. I was told about the plans to open a zoo but my editor said he didn’t think it
would be around for very long. . . He was wrong.
All these years later it has become one of the best zoos and mostloved attractions in the whole of East Anglia, and famous across the country, delighting one generation after the next.
It remains popular because it treats the animals and birds with the utmost respect and does a great deal of work helping wildlife while making sure it offers a day to remember.
Banham Zoo is part of the Zoological Society of East Anglia, and supports animal welfare and education along with international conservation. Some of the animals in their care are among the most endangered in the world and the zoo is involved with conservation programmes to safeguard them for the future of our planet.
Gone are the days of large animals prowling in small cages. Banham gives its residents – from furry little rats to majestic giraffes – five-star treatment.
We went along to see for ourselves on Tiger Day with grandson Gabriel and his young cousins Archie and Ruby. It was a wonderful day out.
With 50 acres of parkland and gardens and various attractions to explore you need to take your time.
There are more than 2,000 animals and birds, along with an activities and education centre, but it is best to take a ride on the safari road train to get your bearings when you arrive so you can be told where everything is.
There are also bird of prey displays, feeding talks, an Australian Paddock, a Penguin Cove, a Farm Barn, Woodland Walk and so on. And the staff are also very friendly and helpful.
Our young companions loved every minute of the day out, not even crying when they fell over while running to the various young explorer stations to get their stamps for a medal at the end of the day.
Banham Zoo is a great day out. Even I was tempted to get my face painted on Tiger Day . . . but I didn’t want to scare the animals.
The next special day is Lemur Love as the zoo goes loopy for lemurs as part of the World Lemur Festival, between October 21 and 29.
I may see you there. I reckon that Banham is bootiful.
All aboard the Banham express for a great day out. Cousins Gabriel and Archie with Bridgette James.
Is it a tiger? No, it’s Gabriel with ears to match his new face.
Grandpa Derek James and Gabriel admiring the zebra at Banham.
Home to bed ! And I’ve got the medal to show it was a perfect day out.
One of the star attractions at Banham Zoo, a magnificent tiger.
Only us! Cousins Archie and Gabriel having fun at Banham Zoo.