Jersey day two, part two
15.04.2018 - 15.04.2018
Emerald tree boa, Jersey Zoo
Back at the bus station we caught another bus, the 23, which took us on a winding route through the Jersey countryside and a couple of small villages and delivered us right to the entrance of the Durrell Jersey Zoo. Named for Gerald Durrell, who founded it, this zoo is run on very different lines to the majority. There are few large animals here - no big cats, no polar bears. The stated purpose is foremost to help to preserve endangered species and the entertainment of visitors is only secondary to this. And of course the income from those visitors helps with the preservation work. The website explains their mission thus:
'Durrell' is an international charity dedicated to 'Saving Species from Extinction'. Founded by author and naturalist Gerald Durrell, we've been saving some of the world's most endangered animals for over half a century. Through our Wildlife Park in Jersey, conservation academies in Mauritius and Jersey, and 45 field projects worldwide, our unique approach tackles conservation from all angles.
And describes their work at the zoo:
‘Our founder, Gerald Durrell, held the pioneering belief that zoos should primarily act as reserves and regenerators of endangered species. So while it’s still important we provide a fun and engaging day out for families, over the years Jersey Zoo has focused as much as possible on conservation.
Today, the overarching role of our animal collection in Jersey and overseas – our ‘ark’, as Gerald would have it – is conservation. We manage breeding programmes for release back to the wild, develop the skills and tools to conserve species in the wild, train others in animal husbandry and conservation practice, and communicate important messages to our visitors.
We rigorously and regularly assess our animal collection, assigning each animal in our collection to one of four roles: conservation, research and training, education, or visitor experience. By 2020, we aim to have 90% of the species at Jersey Zoo contributing to conservation, training and research, or education.’
Flower at Jersey Zoo
We paid our £16 entrance fee and started to explore. And we had a wonderful time here! The zoo is thoughtfully laid out, with space for the animals the priority and lots of greenery for both them and the human visitors. We followed the recommended walking route which took us past all the enclosures. Among the highlights were:
‘Jewels of the Forest’, where we walked among colourful and very tame birds:
Red-billed leiothrix or Pekin Robin
Palawan peacock-pheasant - tail detail
The reptile and amphibian house, with colourful frogs and snakes and other interesting creatures:
Emerald tree boa
Brazilian poison frog
The lively meerkats - great fun to watch and to try to photograph:
Meerkats at Jersey Zoo
The gorillas, especially as our arrival here coincided with their second lunch time which provided us with great photo ops (I took far too many!) and some interesting explanations from the keepers – I learned, for instance, that the youngster was five years old.
Silverback gorilla, and the youngest member of the family
One of the females
Gorilla feeding time
I also shot a short video here – look how carefully and dexterously the gorilla handles her food:
The orangutans, swinging among the trees on the many ropes strung between them, and the white-handed gibbons (confusingly available in both black and beige colour schemes ) who shared their large enclosure:
Young white-handed gibbon
The golden lion tamarinds and marmosets, also sharing an enclosure:
Golden lion tamarind
The Chilean flamingos - we had seen them a few years ago in the Atacama Desert but it was great to get a much closer look here - I loved the deep pink feathers under their wings:
Nearby were some White-naped cranes, a new species to me:
The lemurs, although we spent less time with them as it was at this point that the rain returned
The aye-aye - impossible to photograph in the darkness of his enclosure but fascinating to see.
Even the flowers around the zoo were lovely, and the odd shower only added to their beauty, with rain drops glistening on the petals:
Bluebells, and (I think) an arum lily
Magnolia, and camellia
We also visited the exhibition room that tells the Gerald Durrell story, from his birth in India, his childhood fascination with animals, his books, and his work as an adult devoted to their protection and conservation, including the opening of this zoo and its development. There were lots of photos, early editions of the books, and some of the souvenirs he had brought back from his travels.
After a hot chocolate in the café (we had decided after our large breakfast that lunch would only spoil our appetites for dinner) we caught the bus back to St Helier to rest up a little, sort photos and catch up with messages.
While going round the zoo we had already caught the football score that told us Newcastle had beaten Arsenal 2-1, which, as well as being a great result in itself, also meant that Premier League survival was guaranteed. So there were match reports to read too, and friends with whom to exchange messages of celebration.
An excellent dinner
In the Quayside Bistro, St Helier
In the evening we decide to splurge a bit and went to the nearby Quayside Bistro, an upmarket restaurant overlooking the marina which specialises in seafood. We had a fabulous meal - in my case a starter of tempura prawns with wasabi dip, main course of lobster thermidor, and dessert of prune bread and butter pudding with local ice cream, washed down with a great Austrian Grüner Veltliner, one of our favourite wines. Chris had a crab and scallop starter, chicken with dauphinois potatoes and finished with coffee and Armagnac. Service was friendly and for such a special meal the bill of just over £100 really not too bad. And of course we raised a glass to my late mum, as she was the reason we had come to Jersey and had such a super day!
Then it was back to our hotel room in time to watch the highlights of our match v Arsenal on Match of the Day 2. A great end to an excellent day.