Friday, 3 October 2014

Guest interview: "We went to a secret zoo!"

I spoke to Oliver, 10, and Eve, 8, who went to Heythrop Zoo, a private collection of wild animals trained for TV and film. It is hidden in the Cotswolds and only open to the public one weekend a year!

Did it feel different to a normal zoo?
Oliver: Yes, there’s lots of animals, and animals you hardly ever see, like white tigers and a black leopard. You can get closer to them and they let you hold them. I got to hold a Bearded Dragon and a Squirrel Monkey!
Eve: Yes, you see more animals. You could ride the camels and they had a “penguin parade” – you walked with them and held a fish in your hand and they jumped up and got it!
Did they show you how they trained the animals?
Oliver: Well they had shows, like about how they tame the big cats. They got them to jump over tables.
Eve: Yes, there was a place where they they trained monkeys to do things like pack a suitcase or pretend to die.They had a pink, plastic gun and they made the monkey stand up on its back feet and when they triggered the gun, it fell backwards!
Was it scarey at all?
Oliver: Quite scarey. Sometimes the lions didn’t do what they were told to do.They were pushing against the wall of the cage and shaking it. The people at the front were only about this far away [holds hands out about 1 metre apart].
Eve: Yes, they had three massive lions with one man in a cage. One of them was standing up and roaring at the little kids. The man said, “Don’t eat the children!”. He had a massive blodge of meat on a stick to make it come. He said the front row was blocked off in case the lions escaped.
Was he joking?
I don’t know!
What other animals did they have there?
Oliver: Two black bears and they used to have a polar bear, but they said it died recently at 36 years old. It was in an advert on TV, for wine I think. They showed us the advert.
Eve: A hippo, a baboon, wolves, two zebras (an adult and a baby), a giraffe, a goat thing … ooh, a kookaburra.
Did you meet any animals you’ve seen on TV or in films?
Oliver: Yes. The penguins, the bears and the monkeys are in The Zoo, which is on TV now. They do photo shoots with celebrities there too, like they showed us a picture of a woman with a leopard on her lap.
Eve: I didn’t know any of the films or anything.

What was your favourite thing?
Oliver: Having a monkey on my shoulder!
Eve: I liked the monkeys the best. They were walking them on a lead, like the type toddlers wear sometimes. I just stroked one – I didn’t want it on my shoulder because I was worried it would poo on me!
So as a place to go for a day out, what score would you give it out of 10?
Oliver: 9 out of 10.
Eve: 10 out of 10.

Where does it lose a point, Oliver?
The journey to get there.

Find out about Heythrop Zoo’s annual open weekend on their website.


  1. Wow, what an amazing opportunity! I think I'd be like Eve and worry that a monkey would poo on my shoulder too - very sensible girl! Shame you have to wait a whole year to go again #familytested

    1. Not long now though - next one is early August!

  2. How exciting, thank you so much for sharing this, we are definitely going for sure - a secret zoo, that is so cool! I saw a white tiger on my honeymoon so very excited to see that and maybe ride a camel, oh yeah and I'm sure my 3yo will love it too!
    Kat #familytested