Islands at Chester Zoo

On Saturday David and I headed towards Chester Zoo for our pre-booked members preview of their new ‘most ambitious’ development, Islands.

Chester Zoo. Islands

Chester Zoo. Islands

The premise of the new enclosures, of six South East Asian Islands, is for them to be an immersive exhibition where the visitor is to be the ‘intrepid explorer!’ The project has taken over five years and cost in the region of £40 million! It is the ‘biggest’ development in the history of UK zoos! It opens to the public on the 13th July 2015 but I think that is slightly premature as there are still building works going on, a few of the Islands are not completed and only the Visayan Warty Pigs are in their enclosures. The Sumatran Tigers and Orang-utan’s have yet to be relocated!

I thought that the opportunity for members to see the new development before it opens to the public was a nice gesture on behalf of the zoo. It was an opportunity I jumped at, though I was a little trepid on finding out that not all of the animals were in their enclosures and that the Biome – Monsoon Forest was not open.

Our allocated time was 11am. With ticket in hand David and I headed for the queue at the entrance of the new development. There was an excited buzz in the air from the other zoo guests.

The adventure begins!

The adventure begins!

The sun shone down and I regretted bringing my jacket and not having sun screen on! The Islands that are open to the public in this first phase are: Panay, Bali, Papua, Sumba and Sulawesi as well as the Lazy Boat Ride. 😀

The first Island you encounter on your exhibition, is Panay with its white Coral Sands! It is based on a real island in the Philippines.

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The vegetation changes as you enter Bali.

Bali

Bali

The Island of Sumba is where you catch the Lazy River Boat Ride. It can be a very long wait on busy days, but we only queued for about 5-10 minutes! They despatch two boats at a time each carrying up to 17 explorers! David and I hopped into one and enjoyed the leisurely cruise. For me it was the most enjoyable part of the experience! It will be even better once the project is complete and the animals are happy in their new homes! For now we enjoyed the warmth of the sun, drifted past the Visayan Warty Pigs and watched as the new enclosures and exhibits were being developed.

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Our preview lasted just over half an hour. Some people stopped off at Sulawesi and lunched at Manado Town. I was really energised by the experience and look forward to visiting again once the project is fully completed. It will be a shame that by that time our membership will have run out by then!


Afterwards we had lunch at the Red Pandas, two of whom came out for bamboo.

Male Red Panda

Male Red Panda

We went to visit the Giant Otters but because there were too many people at the enclosure we decided to leave them for another day. I haven’t been to the zoo for a while and forgot how busy of a summer it can get!

We enjoyed seeing lots of baby’s. One was of a Spectacled Owl chick who was bigger than its parents and Red Breasted Geese chicks. We also saw the recent Giraffe calf and the Onager foals. The pictures below were taken by David!

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Even the two baby Asian Elephants were kidding about in the mud!

I always love going to Chester Zoo, even if we only stay a few hours we always get to see something new! I will be sad when our membership runs out, perhaps I can bend David’s arm and renew again soon? :p

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‘It’s the Circle of Life!’

baby_simba__rebirth_by_cherrichelxd16-d60e661

After a year of waiting, today was finally the day that David and I went to see The Lion King at the Liverpool Empire Theatre!

I must say that I was not as excited as I was when I went to see the new Everyman Theatre, but we went none the less.

We went to the matinee and it was an almost full house! We had nice seats (though the seats in the Empire are rickety!) The only downside was not the children, they all seemed to be well behaved, it was the two adults in front of us that kept moving forwards blocking our view! Luckily I had the isle seat so managed to look around ‘big’ heads but it was annoying! ‘Stay in your seat!’ I wanted to say!

Before the show there seemed to be a mass ‘stampede’ of parents trying to obtain ‘booster’ seats for their children. I looked at David and said ‘I need one too!’ (What with being small and all!) He just laughed at that!

The merchandise I found was pretty expensive and the ushers were on guard throughout the show on the lookout for ‘pirates!’ Luckily I was not one of them that day!

The show lasted just under three hours, including interval. It was nice to hear Hans Zimmer’s music from the original film in the show. Indeed Zimmer won his only Oscar for The Lion King and it was the first soundtrack I purchased of Zimmer’s works! Today, I have numerous tracks of his, he being one of my favourite composers!

I was very impressed by the stage design and the costumes were wonderful! The first track The Circle of Life, was undoubtedly the highlight for me! I loved the representation of the Elephant and the Gazelle, and the Giraffe were by far my favourite!

Lion King Las Vegas

 

There were some moments I enjoyed more than others. I liked the scenes reminiscing of the Disney film of 1994. I wondered how they would recreate the ‘stampede’ and the stage direction and design was top notch! The ‘rotary’ with Wildebeest was genius!

The use of puppets was creative. I think Liverpool will be awash with puppets this year!

There were some moments when I did not quite connect with the events on stage. I could not hear some of the actors speaking, (I missed a few jokes because of that!) and the singing was either too loud or the words of the songs were not conveyed clearly enough. There was far too much shouting over one another I thought!

I did enjoy the production of He Lives in You! The stage was awash with stars and then the face of Mufasa emerged out of the myriad, is was quite something to behold!

HeLivesinU

I did have a lump in my throat at the end of the musical when they reprised The Circle of Life with Simba’s child being displayed to all and sundry! That indeed made me think of my mortality and how life is just a perpetual cycle. We come and go, and life continues endlessly.

I did enjoy my time at The Lion King, the musical. It was very much a carnival of animals! However I feel there are far better musical productions in theatres at present. I’m just hoping Les Mis does the rounds again soon!