Saturday 8th June 2019: Chester Zoo Expedition

Wildlife Explorers brought their season of outdoor meetings to a close with an ‘Evolution Expedition’ at Chester zoo. Joined by the intrepid sea captain , Robert Fitzroy of the HMS Beagle and renowned naturalist Charles Darwin, author of On the Origin of Species, a 40-strong group of explorers were excited to find out more about the incredible birds, animals and plants that are kept at the zoo as part of important conservation and breeding programmes. The expedition included Leader Kat who was celebrating her 21st Birthday and Explorer Matthew who was enjoying the trip on his 5th Birthday.

After singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Kat, Matthew and Ollie (who was just a day off his 14th Birthday!) the meeting commenced with a short introduction to natural selection by Mr Darwin and some weather forecasting tips from Captain Fitzroy (who founded the Met. Office).

After viewing the elephants we passed the enormous European Black Vultures and headed inside to shelter from the rain in the Butterfly house. Incredible coloured tropical butterfly were flitting between the feeding stations – and an owl butterfly took a particular liking to the Birthday girl.

In the Tropical Realm a myriad of free-flying birds were observed alongside amphibians and reptiles of incredible variety. The exit allowed us to see the fascinating, nocturnal aye-aye in the dark along with the tiny local field mice that had sneaked into the enclosure and now share the space full time.

After learning about sloths (the delightful Tina and Rico) we spotted them near their nesting boxes high above the tropical fish aquarium. (Leader Tina could hardly contain her excitement).

This was followed by impressive close views of the jaguar, an impressive big cat from South America.The group then headed over to see the chimpanzees (two having names connected with our Leaders -Tina and Wilson!) .

The Realm of The Red Ape showcased the wonderful orang utan and more amazing creatures of the rainforest from reticulated pythons to orb weaver spiders.

Charles Darwin then explained and demonstrated the mating rituals of the flamingo and we all attempted (with varying levels of success) to do the same. The real flamingos nearby did not seem to be impressed.

The final stop before lunch was the Humboldt penguins – who coincidentally were having their midday meal too.
Kat and Matthew were then presented with mini Birthday cakes to have with their lunch!

After a short break for food the Expedition headed off to Madagascar and the lemur enclosure. The inclement weather meant that the lemurs stayed largely inside, however, we did get glimpses of various species and we all got great views of the fossa.
Leader Kat, full of Birthday exuberance then lead a group lemur impression and we all bounced around almost indistinguishable from the real thing!

Click on this link to watch the video of the lemur impressions!

We then walked across the walkway past the cheetahs, the fastest mammals on earth. This was followed with a spontaneous set of monkey impressions from the younger members of the group as we headed to the see the spider monkeys and Lion-maned macaques.

We then watched the rhinos as the weather finally brightened up for a few moments.
The organised part of the day ended with another rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ and the presentation of Birthday gifts.
Thank you to everyone who joined us for a wonderful day of discovery!

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