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Zoos across the region prepare for summer fun

By Nathan Briant | Entertainment | Published:

The animals in zoos across the region are waiting for you to say hello and maybe give them a treat this summer.

Visit Chester Zoo over the summer holidays and sign up for a fundraiser for elephants.

The zoo is asking nurseries, voluntary groups, parents and childminders to take part in the event on World Elephant Day on August 12.

Take part in the Summer Stampede, a short walk through the grounds, which aims to raise money for its Never Forget campaign.

That funds research into a vaccine for deadly virus, endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV). That affects young elephants around the world, in zoos and in the wild.

Its new Magagascan Play! zone opened earlier this year and families are able to explore forest trees, breaches and grasses.

It has been inspired by one of the country off the African continent, which is the most biologically diverse island in the world.

The brand new area includes scramble nets, a performance space and 30ft-tall iconic Madagascan baobab tree.

Or, more locally, you might want to take a trip down to Dudley Zoo, which has more than 1,300 animals on show, ranging about 200 species, including some of the rarest in the world.

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Earlier this year, a rare black lemur was born at the zoo for the first time in more than a decade.

It is part of the European Endangered Species Programme and it welcomed its newborn along with mother Barbara and father Bryan.

Barbara was bought to the Black Country from Bioparc Fuengirola in Spain last November.

As part of the fun activities at Dudley Zoo, visitors can take part in special tours which will show participants what it’s like waking up and putting some of the rarest animals in the world to bed.

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The guided tour will give people the chance to go behind the scenes and see the exotic animals with keepers as they feed, clean and care them at the award-winning attraction on the morning of September 3 and the evening of July 22 and August 12.

You’ll need to get to the zoo for about 8.45pm and the tour will last about two hours for the breakfast option. Once you’ve joined and finished the unique tour, you’ll be able to stay in the zoo for as long as you want – and have your breakfast in the Queen Mary restaurant. All that food is included in the cost.

Or you can visit on the evenings and see how the animals are cared for as the sunset drops behind Dudley’s 11th century castle. Afterwards, enjoy a tour lasting two hours starting at 5pm, then relax in the grounds with a BBQ.

For the breakfast tour, adults must pay £40 for a ticket and a child must pay £30 each and those prices include zoo admission. Kids must be at least eight- to take part in the tour.

The cost of the evening tour is £45 per adult and £35 per child. You must book in advance and there are only limited places available so book up now. Call 01384 215313 to confirm your place.

If you’re staying in Shropshire, have a day out at Park Hall and enjoy its own countryside experience. It’s won a host of awards from its base in Oswestry and is among the region’s most exciting, all-weather family visitor attraction.

There’s never a dull moment there and you can take part in – wait for it – meeting small animals and horses, pony grooming, riding tractors, bottle feeding lambs and goats, hand milking and parlour milking. All those things can be done throughout the day and work on a set timetable. You can see this timetable on Park Hall’s website

You can also take part in its children’s driving school from 11am until 1pm and then from 2pm until 4.45pm. Miniature-sized Land Rovers are also used between 11am and 1pm and between 2pm and 4.45pm. You can also ride the barrel train between 12.45pm and 1.15pm and again between 2.45pm and 3.15pm.

Nathan Briant

By Nathan Briant
Senior Reporter - @nbriant_star

One of the Express & Star's Walsall and Staffordshire team.

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