The Wildheart Trust (Isle of Wight Zoo)
There really is no such thing as an adult, I know this because my photographer and I spent a very happy time at Suricata Lodge (the Latin name for meerkat) giggling whilst being smothered by these small furry creatures who were far more interested in the tasty worms the keepers were scattering than us. We had to keep our fingers hidden in case they mistook them for large worms. They move so quickly, en masse, and are full of boundless energy.
The ‘meerkat experience’ is one of several that can be purchased for a closer / behind the scenes animal encounter at the home of the Wildheart Trust (Isle of Wight Zoo) and is certainly a place for all the family. There is a daily schedule which includes big cat feeding and the staff are extremely knowledgeable very happy to answer questions and share their expertise. Enjoy giant 50cm long rabbits, several species of monkey, lions, tigers, wallabies and even a few less exotic, but equally fascinating animals like guinea pigs, goats (who doesn’t love a goat!) and tortoises.
The big cats have all been rescued from circuses, would not survive in the wild and are now safe, in their forever home, their welfare is paramount and it is so obvious that the staff care deeply about every single creature. It can be slightly unnerving, however, being so close to these powerful, roaring, beautiful animals.
The site also has a playground, a lovely café with views of Sandown Bay, a shop and you will be pleased to know that all proceeds go towards the zoo and the many world-class projects they support such as tiger conservation in India and many programmes in Madagascar, working closely with local communities.
Access is good for those on wheels and you can buy daily or annual individual and family tickets, the website (https://isleofwightzoo.com) is clear and easily navigable for more information and activities on over half-term.
Be ready to take some amazing photographs!