Day Out and Zoo Keeper Experience at Folly Farm

By Kathryn Slade Penguin Coast Feeding

Folly Farm LogoLast week Harriet and I were invited to Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo in Begelly, a 10 minute drive from Bluestone National Park Resort. Despite having arranged the visit a month before we were lucky enough to pick the sunniest and hottest day of the week!

Being big animal lovers we were both really excited about our day out and the sunshine made it even better. We set off on the easy journey down the road to the attraction which is adored by our guests. We were directed into the parking area by helpful stewards and then we set off towards reception. It’s only a couple of minutes walk and there are plenty of fun signs along the way with pictures of the animals and how to say their names in Welsh. Listening to Harriet trying to pronounce them was a great start to the day!

We were greeted by friendly faces at reception and then we were off to enjoy our day out. Adult tickets are £10.95 each, tickets for Children aged 3-15 years, senior citizens, disabled (accompanying carer free of charge if required) are £9.95 and children under 3 are free! During the summer the park is open from 10am until 5:30pm every day.  It is really good value for money for a day out in Pembrokeshire as there is so much to see and do.  If you book in advance via their website you can also benefit from a discount for being organised!

We were given handy pocket sized maps for our day so we planned our day out to start off with! We were lucky enough to have booked onto the Zoo Keeper Experiences so that we could get up close and learn more about them from their keepers. The experiences are £39 per person and there is a choice between the Giraffe Feeding Experience and the Penguin Feeding Experience, or you can do both like we did! The experiences take place on selected dates throughout the year and must be pre-booked; they make perfect gifts for animal lovers.

Close up giraffe at Folly FarmWe started our day off with the giraffes; Folly Farm has four male giraffes which are the only ones you can see in Wales!  Zulu and Taharqa arrived at in April 2009 and were joined by 18 month old Rian in May 2010 and four year old Sillan in November 2010. We were admiring the giraffes from the viewing platform when Jack came to meet to start our first experience.

Jack is the giraffe’s keeper and he knows everything about them, from what they like to eat to how they like to spend their days. We started off by learning about their personalities before we went to prepare a tasty mid morning snack for them. We walked back to the giraffe house to do this and while we were here we learnt about their sleeping habits. The giraffe house was huge, with big door for the animals to get in and out of. The snacks of the day were large branches of willow and tasty nutritional treats to top up their diets. We were then let into the little walk way into the enclosure which was really exciting!

Harriet with giraffe foodThe giraffes certainly knew when it was food time as Sillan and Rian were already waiting for us! They looked impressive from the viewing platform but up close you could truly appreciate how amazing they are. To feed them the nutritional treats you had to empty a handful onto their tongues which were long and super slimy. The branches went down very well with our new friends too; it was amazing how strong they were when they were ripping the leaves off to eat we had to really hold on to the branch! They were having a greedy day and soon lost interest in us when the food had all gone but it was a really amazing experience!
Feeding giraffes at Folly Farm

After the giraffe Experience we walked around the park and visited all the other animals. It is amazing to see how Folly Farm has evolved from the Adventure Farm that I used to visit when I was little.  With over 60 species for you to see it is a great place for learning!

Possibly the biggest change is the addition of the Pride of Pembrokeshire Lions. Hugo, his lioness Luna and their four female cubs Zahra, Sola, Alika and Ebele are a huge attraction and time flies when you are watching them. They are so close it feels like you could reach out and touch them!

Lounging lions at Folly Farm
Lion close up face

We spent ages wandering around the park and learning about the different animals as well as taking lots and lots of photos. Then we headed to the burger bar which had recently opened for lunch! It was a popular choice but we were served quickly and the food was really tasty and hot. The prices were reasonable for a tourist attraction and there was plenty of choice including meal deals. There was plenty of indoor seating but we chose to sit outside and make the most of the sunshine!

After this it was time for the penguins to have their dinner too! This was our second animal experience of the day. We were met by Catrin the penguin's keeper and  Rosie the Zoo Supervisor who was helping her out.  We started off by preparing lunch for the penguins; they enjoy eating fresh fish so we had to weigh the fish out to make sure that they got the right amount. We were then introduced to the baby penguins that were born earlier in the year. They were too small to tell whether they were boys or girls but they had all been names after Disney characters; Cogsworth, Bagheera, Abu, Scuttle and Thumper!

Swimming penguins

The penguin enclosure is one of the biggest in the UK and they live in luxury with a salt water pool! Caitlin held the penguin talk while Rosie taught me and Harriet through how to feed them. Just like the giraffes they knew when it was food time and we’re all waiting quite patiently for their snacks! Some were a little less patient than others but they were all equally cute.

Feeding penguins at Folly Farm

There were two seagulls who were trying to steal their lunch out of the water but we tried our best to make sure that they didn’t get too much fish. The penguins were hungrier because they were moulting and there were little piles of feathers dotted around their enclosures. The experiences were both brilliant and unique and we both agreed we would definitely be the first to sign up to go again!

Harriet and Kathryn at Penguin Coast

We had spent about 5 hours here by now but it didn’t feel anywhere near that long. We had definitely spent too much time in the sun though so we went inside to enjoy the vintage fun fair! It is Europe's largest undercover vintage funfair with a huge collection of working rides and stalls which have all been restored and looked amazing. There are Golden Gallopers, chair-o-planes, dodgems, the Lakin Skid, the Cake Walk, the Rock 'n Roll Waltzer, the Royal Coronation Speedway, so there is plenty to choose from. The Waltzers have always been my personal favourites and I couldn’t resist a spin!

Vintage Funfair Ride

From here we went to the Jolly Barn to see the farm animals. While we were there children and adults were getting the chance to milk a goat. During the day there are lots of chances to get up close to the animals and enjoy experiences like this which are free of charge at Cwtch Corner. Times for these are displayed in and around the Jolly Barn so you won’t miss out.

Goat milking at Folly Farm
Stroking goat

Through the underpass you can climb aboard the Land Train and tour the outdoor paddocks too and see the pigs at Percy’s Piggery. We ended our adventure with Folly Farm here but not before we had looked around the shop on the way out which was filled with souvenirs to remember the day with!

 

Categories:Activities, Pembrokeshire, Family

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