It is a dreary Autumn afternoon in Edinburgh as we make our way through the penguins to the grand ivy-covered manor house. A warm brew and an array of delectable sweet treats is the little of luxury that we needed to continue our adventure up the steep hillside of Edinburgh Zoo to discover all the wonderful creatures within…
“What could be better than a day out at the zoo and delicious cake? This September, enjoy a delicious afternoon tea in the beautiful Mansion House during a great day out exploring Edinburgh Zoo.“[source]
Today’s adventure is all thanks to Stuart, who was marvellous enough to gift me this fantastic afternoon tea at Edinburgh Zoo as a treat to cheer me up from all the weirdness of 2020. It was really nice to be able to get out into the real world and actually go on a zoo adventure again… even if it was socially distanced!!
The afternoon tea itself was exquisite. We were served my favourite Eteaket teas, alongside a selection of finely cut sandwiches, oven baked scones with Chantilly cream and preserves, and a selection of hand-crafted pastries. The staff were also brilliant at handling dietary requirement requests. I don’t like drawing attention to myself in public settings, and asking for something off-menu is one of those social situations that gives me anxiety, but in this case veganism was very much on their menu, and I was fully catered for.
The afternoon tea was held inside the manor house, and I was excited to take a peek inside, as it had always intrigued me on my previous visits. The dark wooden carvings around the house were stunning, and I enjoyed the animal themes that they depicted, especially the beautiful winged dragons that stood proudly guarding the grand staircase. I was a little disappointed by some of the soft furnishings, and decorative elements. The tables and chairs themselves felt like leftovers from an office party, and the wallpaper was cheap and did not suit the rest of the interior. It was weird. I feel like the insides needed a little makeover, and some help into creating an atmosphere and design that was more in keeping with the opulent vibe of the original ornate wood carvings, and the grandiose exterior. I mean, I was sitting underneath a framed portrait of the Queen after all!!
Edinburgh Zoo has always held a special place in my heart. I have visited it many times over the years of growing up in Edinburgh, and it will always be my firm favourite.
“Edinburgh Zoo is owned by The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS). The Society was founded in March 1909, and the Zoo opened in July 1913. Set in 82 acres of sloping parkland, the Zoo is situated three miles to the west of Edinburgh city centre. Apart from getting close to over 1,000 rare and endangered animals, there are many different ways to enjoy your day out. You can experience a busy programme of educational events and activities – ranging from keeper talks through to hands-on animal encounters – and a wide-range of eating experiences, several play areas and a fantastic gift shop… Edinburgh Zoo is one of Europe’s leading centres of conservation, education and research. We work collectively with many other zoos and conservation agencies in the UK, Europe and around the world in co-ordinated conservation programmes, to help ensure the survival of many threatened animal species. We support various conservation projects in the wild through funding and expertise. Our extensive education programme aims to raise awareness and understanding of the fragility of life on this planet, and our responsibility to help care for it. We also support a range of targeted research projects which are designed to enhance our understanding of animals’ behavioural and physiological needs, with many useful consequences for conservation in the wild.“[source]
Their mission statement is “Connecting people with nature. Safeguarding species from extinction.” and I think about that a lot when I have visited other zoos and nature centres. It is the core sentiment of why I think zoos are important. Edinburgh Zoo very much lives up to this statement, and alongside the Highland Wildlife Park (which is very much on my wish list of places I want to visit) they are involved in an extensive range of conservation projects, as well as providing education opportunities within the zoo.
They work on too many crucial projects for me to talk about them all, so I will briefly mention a counple that intrigued me and I will drop this link where you can check out more about the outstanding conservation efforts that the RZSS is working on.
Perhaps their most famous project is the Giant Panda conservation. In 2011 Tian Tian and Yang Guang arrived at Edinburgh Zoo, and while unsuccessful in their attempts to mate the pair so far, Edinburgh Zoo has contributed to panda research worldwide. Big, fluffy, cute animals like the Giant Pandas quite often get all the headlines and news coverage, so it is important for me to talk about the lesser known conservation efforts of Edinburgh Zoo helping to prevent the extinction of the Partula Snail. 77 species of Partula Snail became extinct following a failed attempt at biological control. The rosy wolf snail was introduced to the Pacific region to control numbers of another non-native species, the giant African land snail, however it started predating native Partula snail species instead. In 2010, RZSS Edinburgh Zoo was entrusted with the very last captive individual of the Partula taeniata simulans subspecies, and in 2018 they hit the impressive milestone of over 10,000 snails successfully bred for release.
These two stories highlight a small segment of the essential work Edinburgh Zoo is doing for conservation, and in my opinion, just another reason for you to add this zoo to your visit list!!
This was not my first trip to Edinburgh Zoo, and it certainly will not be my last. I was impressed with the social distancing, and Covid-safety measures that had been put in place. It was a miserable, rainy day that we visited on, but the zoo was surprisingly quiet. At times we felt like we were the only two visitors in the whole place! While it was nice to feel like we had the zoo to ourselves, it made me worry about the future of Edinburgh Zoo. Establishments like this are struggling at the moment, so I would like to urge you to help in any way you can. Either by visiting Edinburgh Zoo, donating money if you are able, and checking out my post all about other ways you can help our your local zoo or nature centre during the pandemic.
Thank you for coming on this adventure with me, and I do hope to see you again in the future!
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Fluffy Jellyfish out.