On Saturday it was J’s fourth birthday (I know! When did we step into a time machine and fast forward four years since his arrival?!) He wanted to go to the zoo so we decided to try somewhere new and we headed to the Welsh hills, to the Welsh Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay.

We got up early, began our road trip, had a quick catch up with my parents, and then continued on our way. The sun was shining, we were all very excited – particularly about seeing the bird displays – and we sang along to our CDs.

 The zoo, despite being in the hills, is very well signposted – although the roads are narrow enough to make us wonder how the animals were transported.
The man in the ticket office was so lovely and friendly that we were already debating whether we should upgrade our tickets to annual passes, but decided that we really needed to have a look around first. The carpark was small – and more importantly close to the animals (and even better, there was plenty of spaces) so we decamped and wrapped up.
The first animals we came across were the macaws. They were incredible. Firstly, they weren’t caged. They were sat on the fence so we were able to get unbelievably close. And secondly, their plumage was so bright. I must confess to taking about 50% of the day’s photos whilst watching them.
The paths around the zoo are narrow and obviously it’s steep so there are plenty of steps but there are ‘pram friendly’ ramps. This can take you away from the direct route to the next animal, but in our case we stumbled across the gardens which we thoroughly enjoyed. I couldn’t believe how vivid the colours were so late in the year… Simply beautiful.
The tannoy announced that the bird display was starting, so we followed the directions and were initially disappointed to find out that the bird flight had been cancelled due to high winds; a problem with being on the side of a mountain on the welsh coast. However, we were thrilled with the alternative – Humboldt penguins. The keeper gave us plenty of information about them whilst feeding them (a few cheeky gulls got in on the action) and one even came and pecked our buggy wheels. Where else do you get within touching distance of such beautiful creatures?
We went for lunch. The cafe over looks the tiger enclosure – unfortunately the negatives of the day were largely based around the lunch experience: it was cold outside, well it was October, and the door was propped open! The menu was centred around chips, cheese and beans – in various combinations. And the toilets were down a steep flight of stairs.
Once lunch was eaten, we continued exploring.
We went to the children’s area to see the chickens, rabbit and guinea pigs. And on to see the large (and quite frankly terrifying) Mississippi alligator. It looked so menacing with just his eyes and nostrils visible *shudder*. We decided to skip the reptile house – because the warm air makes our camera lenses steam up and absolutely NOTHING to do with the fact I have a phobia of snakes(!)
We really enjoyed meandering around the zoo and looking at the animals there was so much more to see than the animals in enclosures. The Welsh Mountain Zoo has definitely made the most of the surroundings, with walks in the woodland  to spy squirrels and the birds housed in enclosures there. The view from the Przewalski’s wild horses is breathtaking too.
But by far my favourite photo of the day was the majestic tiger.
We had a really, really lovely day and headed home, exhausted but very happy!