Monday, 23 July 2007

Our Visit to Drusillas Park, Sussex, England

As always, my children enjoyed their visit last week to Drusillas Park which is a park zoo with small animals to appeal to younger children. Small visitors can stamp their books when they sight specific animals and take part in the "Zoo Olympics" which means comparing their performance with that of animals. For example, shouting as loud as a... (surprisingly there are animals which are noisier than my son), running as fast as a ...., weighing as much as a..., jumping as long as a ... etc.

There is a farm section with pigs, cows and goats with an informative description of how milk goes from the cow to our table. Children can even milk a cow, actually just plastic tubes on a pretend cow's udder.

Animals include monkeys, lemurs, walibis, guinea pigs, crocodiles, meerkats (kids love looking through the plastic dome to be at the same height as these animals), servals, beavers, otters, prairie dogs, llamas and the less attractive bats, bugs, spiders and snakes but they can easily be avoided.

Children who celebrate their birthday at Drusillas can enjoy the special treat of feeding the penguins.

There is now a special resident at Drusillas: Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends, Annie and Clarabel, Cranky, James, Diesel and of course the Fat Controller, Sir Topham Hat. When the zoo owner, Laurence Smith, advertised for a male Fat Controller, he was told that he could not specify either male or fat in his job description. How ridiculous! The Fat Controller has been a well-loved character for generations and he must be both male and fat. Visitors can ride with Thomas and his coaches from Tidmouth Halt Station.

Very small children will love the real rabbits and guinea pigs on Teletubbies Hill.

On the educational front, Drusillas sponsor a village in the Maasai so visitors can find out about life for these people and walk through a "mud hut". In fact, there are lots of educational areas suitable for tying in with Key Stages in schools.

If the children have any energy left and the grown-ups need a rest, there is an excellent play area suitable for children from the smallest toddlers upwards and cafes alongside for refreshments and rest.

One thing I particularly like about Drusillas is that it is not overly commercial. When we visited LegoLand, after we had picked ourselves up off the floor from the shock of the entrance price, we were bombarded with toyshops and food concessions every few yards which of course results in tears and complaints if not more money is spent. Instead of enjoying LegoLand, children complain about what they did not receive. Drusillas is a pleasure to visit. The entrance fees are reasonable and the toyshops and food areas are few and far between. There is an Explorers restaurant at the entrance and a couple of places in the play area, all of which charge reasonable prices for a good variety of choice. There are three toy shops and they can be avoided although prices are reasonable so cheaper token presents can be bought as a souvenir of a happy day.

Finish the day off with a round of Jungle Adventure Mini-golf, a paddle in Explorers Lagoon or more jumping around on the bouncy castle and don't miss the kookaburras and pheasants on the way out.

See my photos of Drusillas on Flickr.

There are lots of special appearances throughout the year including Scooby Doo, Postman Pat, Shrek, Bob the Builder, Angelina Ballerina, Fifi and the Flowertots, Tweenies, Wallace and Gromit, Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants, Spider-Man, Fireman Sam and of course Santa.

Drusillas Zoo is on the A27, between Brighton and Eastbourne, Sussex.

Antonia Stuart-James is an English Hypnotherapist in Belgium.

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