Or so the saying goes, but who says? As I develop my photography skills through this year, I’m quite adamant that I’m not particularly interested in photography that involves people – promotional events, weddings, etc. But animals are a different story. The weekend before last, I went to Newquay Zoo for the first time. It’s Cornwall’s only zoo and I didn’t go in with many expectations compared to some of the larger zoos by which I’ve been spoilt – particularly Paignton. But Newquay had some lovely surprises.
The point of going to a zoo is to see animals and Newquay had some impressive specimens. Lions which we don’t tend to see all that often any more in the UK. although I did see some at Blackpool Zoo in December. They also had some beautiful lynxes and something called a “fishing cat” seen in the image to the left. I love this close up but we had to wait for it. We hovered around the enclosure for a few minutes with no sign of them but as we turned to leave, they appeared and started playing in front of the viewing screen. I managed to take this when they got right up close to it and started paying attention to a small boy.
Never work with children or animals? Hmm ok, but the appearance of a curious child at sheet of plexiglass allowed me to take this wonderful photograph. As well as their big and medium sized cats, Newquay Zoo has a number of other animals – including some of the usual suspects such as a tropical reptile house, macaws, lemurs, penguins, peacocks (which almost seems obligatory in the UK) and macaques. I was disappointed with the lack of giraffes but Newquay Zoo is not that large and I can easily go to a much bigger zoo such as Paignton to see those.
In recent years, larger animals that require a lot of space such as elephants and giraffes have given way to smaller animals that still require a lot of space. Exotic deer such as reindeer, moose and oryx are far more common today. One species I had never seen before was the Philippine Spotted Deer. This small and striking deer presented an impressive photo opportunity. They are about the size of a Shetland Pony and are quite curious towards park visitors. Here is a lovely image which is available for download at Alamy. Here is the link to purchase rights to this image. There are several more available of this deer, but this is my favourite from the day.
What Newquay Zoo lacks in size, it more than makes up for in design. Lemurs live on small islands on an artificial lake around which birds such as geese, swans and ducks live quite happily. This means the monkeys do not live inside cages, giving them the freedom to play on their own little island – restricted only by the water feature. This creates a more authentic view for both visitors and the animals. And, of course, it creates an ideal environment for photographers wanting to take photographs without being hampered by the wiring of the cages.
Since the web comparison website Compare the Market started using meerkats as their mascot around 15 years ago, there has been an upturn in the number of zoos with meerkat colonies. They require only a small amount of space as they are quite hierarchical, ruled by a matriarch who restricts the ability of other females to breed. Shockingly, they ostracise any female who tries to mate with her harem, so I learnt on Planet Earth II last year. Nevertheless, meerkats do go in for cuddles as this image shows. Also available here at Alamy.
There are also penguins – naturally, this is expected at UK zoos and they always provide a big draw. I mentioned the tropical house earlier. You’ll find a variety of bugs and snakes, tropical birds and much more. Below is a close up of a vine snake. Sadly I don’t think it would pass Alamy’s technical requirements due to blemishes and marks on the glass.
I would recommend any visitors with a love of zoos to visit Newquay Zoo when in the area. It’s a good day out and you’ll find far more there than you might expect.
The Salesy Bit
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