A few weeks ago, me and my Mam had a day out at the South Lakes Wild Animal Park (or South Lakes Safari Zoo as it is now known) in Dalton-in-Furness. It’s not the first time we have gone there; we’ve visited it a lot with family and friends for roughly over 10 years now. It is a brilliant place that has different species of animals on show and even has some breeds live in the same enclosures. One of the key stand out features of the zoo though is its feeding times. On several occasions I have seen the animal talks and feedings and once hand fed a Lemur.
The star attraction of feeding time is quite possibly the big cats. Animals like African Lions, Sumatran Tigers, Jaguars and many more get fed in a rather interesting way; by placing big chunks of meat atop large vertical poles. The idea is that when the animals are let out of their houses, they climb up the poles to get the food, meaning that they have to work for it, and helps to keep them fit. Over the last few years the park itself has been in a state of expansion with new areas and enclosures being built, with plans to introduce new species. This past visit, I was mostly caught up in looking at the new species with animals I had not seen before like the Giant Anteater, Sri Lankan Leopards, Arctic Wolves, Hornbills and (very briefly) Tayras.
One of the exhibits I took a shine to though was the Snow Leopards. The Snow Leopards aren’t really all that new; the last time I went to the zoo in July 2013 they had just arrived, but this was the first time that I had really seen them active instead of asleep. They were residing in the enclosure that the Lion’s used to occupy (the Lions now having a brand new enclosure). The enclosure was more of a rocky environment than one of grass and trees like it used to be. When we arrived at the enclosure, we were able to spot one of the Snow Leopards rather quickly, and as we went round onto the viewing platform to look down inside the enclosure (and opposite to the Arctic Wolf enclosure) we could spot another one, nicely blending into the rocks.
As the day went past, we looked at some of the other animals and enclosures, but discovered that due to the new species and ever-growing zoo, that feeding times for animals had been moved around. Wanting to watch the Arctic Wolf feeding (as we had never seen it before), we went down to the enclosure to watch, but it turns out they weren’t feeding them on that day (despite being given a leaflet which said that they were). What they were feeding though were the Snow Leopards. It wasn’t anything new really, other than it being a new species, it was the same routine as with the Lions and Tigers; shimmy up the pole. There was a lot of people round so getting a view was hard, but I was able to see them climb the pole and eat the food.
I then had an idea. As it was, the animals were given two servings of food, and so I thought that if I could wait around a bit, I could potentially capture a video of the Snow Leopards climbing up the fence. My camera does come with a basic recording feature, so I set the camera to it and waited. The thing was, the animals were eating rather chewy bits of meat and did take some time to eat their meals. So while I waited, I occasionally glimpsed at the Arctic Wolves and marvelled at how bushy the Snow Leopard’s tails were.
Sometime later though, not too long though, the cats decided they had had enough of their first servings, and proceeded to have their seconds. I quickly got my camera ready and was just able to get a video of them climbing up the poles, grabbing the food, then jumping off and begin to munch away. I was quite relieved as I wondered if I was actually going to get it. When we got back home, after uploading my photos onto Facebook, I then uploaded my video to YouTube, and it came out quite well. In the past I have been able to get pictures of the big cats eating, but I think this is the first time I got a video. I now just need to do it for all the other big cats (and possibly the other animals too).