After a previous day playing with reindeer we were looking for an activity to fill our second day in the Cairngorms before heading back home on the three hour drive back to Glasgow. The options are a little more limited when visiting in February if you're not planning on skiing, as many of the local attractions are in their off season but lucky for us the Highland Wildlife Park is open throughout the year. With the prospect of a quiet day playing spot the animal, we took the short trip from our base at Newtonmore to Kincraig.
Having been to the park before, we know the entry fee is a little steep but probably in line with other bigger attractions. Though top tip if you have some pre-warning of your visit - you can exchange Tesco Clubcard points for entry tokens at a very good rate! We didn't really think that far ahead so ended up paying full price at the gate. With my student card and removing the voluntary donation, the admission price was still £26 but from past experience we knew there would lots to keep us entertained.
|The welcoming face on the drive in|
Somewhat amusingly, the wolverine is called Tina but sadly, despite standing watching for ages while listening to the talk, we never saw her or her two kits with which she shares the enclosure. That wasn't really surprising given the amount of space they've given to these reasonably small mammals and the fact they dig extensive tunnels underground. We learned that they're fairly elusive, even to the keepers and 9 months on from their birth, they still haven't managed to sex the kits. They're also incredible diggers and also like climbing trees. Perhaps we'll see them next time.
|The bison enjoying the sunshine|
Some other very exciting park residents are the Przewalski's horses. Thought to be the closest surviving species to the original horse, these beautiful animals were once extinct in the wild but are now slowly being reintroduced to Mongolia.
|Przewalski horses tucking into breakfast|
|Not looking to ferocious|
|One very grubby polar bear due to the unseasonable lack of snow|
We also joined the next feeding session at the polar bears enclosure but we only encountered one as two of of three are currently off display while they attempt to make some baby bears which would be adorably cute. We arrive to see Walker tucking into a variety of munchies including meat and fish but plenty of veggies too. Apparently, Walker is partial to a bit of melon as well and according to keepers polar bears in captivity enjoy lots of experiential foods. Turns out lots of them like apples too.
Dinner time talks can get very busy, even on the quiet days but they can be a good time to see the animals up close. However, similar to our experience with the wildcats on joining the snow leopard talk the animals were not up for performing for the crowd. We took leave of the crowded space but later we came back to an empty viewing spot and found some very active animals!
There are so many creatures at the Highland Wildlife Park, so it does take a while to get through everything. As it drew closer to the end of the day we took a trip to the tigers and got a treat of some play fighting and chasing. Sometimes it is just the luck of being in the right place at the right time. The tigers even ended up mating right in front of us which was interesting is a little awkward for the mother and child group next to us.
|Just a bit of play fighting|
There is so much to see at the Highland Wildlife Park that a full day is definitely needed to get around everything. We've only mentioned a few of the wonderful animals we got to see but to make best use of your day it is worth following our example of picking out talks and planing your route around them. It's also worth noting that the drive through section has no limit on it so you can take as many trips as you like t but it does close half an hour before the rest of the park. So our top tips are definitely allow plenty of time and take plenty of layers!