Elephant and castle

Published September 3, 2019

Actually, not an elephant, but the unique selling point of Dudley Zoo is that it’s also a castle. The animals are milling around the ruin walls and you get the experience of visiting a zoo but also visiting a castle.

There’s a variety of animals in the castle grounds, and the zoo does a good job of offering up some good views and some things I’d not seen before - the ability to go through a little tunnel and pop up in a little cupola in the middle of the lynx exhibit, for example. That was kinda freaky, but fun too.

That’s something they get right at Dudley Zoo, allowing you to get up close with the animals. I don’t think I’ve ever been so close to a giraffe before, you could walk right through the lemur and wallaby exhibits so that, without touching, you get way close to the little critters.

And the tiger. In one section of the tiger exhibit, there was just a pane of glass between you and the magnificent beast itself. Really, truly, seeing the yellow of the eyes and wondering what on earth was going through the big cat’s mind. I quite quickly retreated to a safer distance.

Dudley Zoo tiger

Otherwise, the zoo has what you’d expect - penguins and flamingoes and meerkats and more. Feeding times and reptile houses and a supremely creepy bat cave.

Dudley Zoo flamingo

The website makes a big deal of the Tecton collection - exhibits designed in the 1930s by the architectural group - but in situ, they’re less impressive. They’re no longer in use, so have been left to rot and ruin a bit. In several of the locations, the way nature is reclaiming the concrete was reminiscent of when Jurassic Park gets all overgrown and I was expecting a dinosaur or two to pop out at any moment. I liked the idea of this old architecture being left as a historic monument, but I really think they could have done more with the old exhibits.

Anyway, a good day. The animals looked happy, which is the main criteria when going to a zoo, and it only started raining on the way out, which was a bonus.

Dudley Zoo giraffe

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