Northumberland Zoo ~ Oct 2021 ~ part 2

Before we get to the Snow Leopards we’ll have a quick look at some other residents in the zoo.

They have Shetland Ponies, which always remind me of the wonderful books by Norman Thelwell I read as a kid.


I’d thought these were Ostriches when I first visited, but nope, they are Greater Rheas, which are smaller, and are the largest birds in South America. They are related to ostriches and emu’s and like them, can’t fly. Seems a bit daft to me to be a bird and unable to fly, but hey ho each to his/her own.

not Ostriches.

Before the big cats arrived the only other felines at the zoo were a pair of Canadian Lynx and these proved to be quite elusive in their large enclosure as it is full of tall plants, but this day I at least got to see them sleeping.

The Canadian lynx, is a North American wild cat that ranges in forest and tundra regions across Canada and into Alaska, as well as some parts of the northern United States. Historically, the Canadian lynx ranged from Alaska across Canada and into many of the northern U.S. states. It’s a good climber and swimmer; it constructs rough shelters under fallen trees or rock ledges. It has a thick coat and broad paws, and is twice as effective as the bobcat at supporting its weight on the snow. The Canada lynx feeds almost exclusively on snowshoe hares; its population is highly dependent on the population of this prey animal. It will also hunt medium-sized mammals and birds if hare numbers fall.

snoozy lynx

The new arrivals now, firstly the Arctic Foxes.

The Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus), also known as the white fox, polar fox, or snow fox, is a small fox native to the Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere and common throughout the Arctic tundra biome. It is well adapted to living in cold environments, and is best known for its thick, warm fur that is also used as camouflage. It has a large and very fluffy tail. In the wild, most individuals do not live past their first year but some exceptional ones survive up to 11 years. Its body length ranges from 46 to 68 cm (18 to 27 in), with a generally rounded body shape to minimize the escape of body heat.

Arctic foxes must endure a temperature difference of up to 90–100 °C (160–180 °F) between the external environment and their internal core temperature. To prevent heat loss, the Arctic fox curls up tightly tucking its legs and head under its body and behind its furry tail. This position gives the fox the smallest surface area to volume ratio and protects the least insulated areas. Arctic foxes also stay warm by getting out of the wind and residing in their dens Although the Arctic foxes are active year-round and do not hibernate, they attempt to preserve fat by reducing their locomotor activity. They build up their fat reserves in the autumn, sometimes increasing their body weight by more than 50%. This provides greater insulation during the winter and a source of energy when food is scarce.

Natural predators of the Arctic fox are golden eagles,Arctic wolves, polar bears, wolverines, red foxes, and grizzly bears. Not many of those in Northumberland so these two can live a long life.


FInally the Snow Leopards. These beautiful big cats are native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia, the global population is estimated to number fewer than 10,000 mature individuals and is expected to decline about 10% by 2040. The snow leopard shows several adaptations for living in a cold, mountainous environment. Its small rounded ears help to minimize heat loss. Its broad paws well distribute the body weight for walking on snow, and have fur on their undersides to increase the grip on steep and unstable surfaces; it also helps to minimize heat loss. Its long and flexible tail helps to maintain balance in the rocky terrain. The tail is very thick due to fat storage, and is covered in a thick layer of fur, which allows the cat to use it like a blanket to protect its face when asleep.

I took so many photos I couldn’t choose which one or two to post, so I made a couple of short videos to show them off. The ladies names are Nieva and Karli.

in B&W
and in glorious technicolour

So that’s that. Next week we’ll be off to someotherwhere so stay tooned for that!

all pictures embiggenable when you clickerate them
full album with more birds, animals etc HERE.

Northumberland Zoo ~ October 2021 ~ part 1

I’ve been to this zoo a couple of times before, once with Sophie back in 2017 when it had only been been open 2 years, and then in 2019 with a couple of my grandkids.

Since then the zoo has expanded and now has two Arctic Foxes, and even more exciting, 2 snow leopards. They had to be visited of course, (cats R us 😊) so off Sophie and I went.

Firstly we stopped to see the Black Tailed Prairie Dogs which are also new to us. They are herbivorous burrowing rodents native to the grasslands of North America. They look quite cute and comical for big rats!

Black Tailed Praire Dogs

Next are the Meerkats, small Mongooses, (or should that be Mongeese? Not sure, anyway, Mongoose plural) found in southern Africa. 


The aviary is the next stop, and whilst caged birds hurt my soul, they have some beauties here.

Blue & Gold Macaw. Being shy.
African Grey Parrot

I’d photographed the owls etc previously so didn’t spend much time there. We went off to see the ring tailed lemurs but came across the Raccoon section first. Native to North America they are so cute!


The ringtailed lemurs are great to visit as you are allowed to walk through their space. They don’t attack people (which is good of them I think) and they gambol about swinging from trees and generally have a high old time.

ring tailed lemur having a rest
king of the swingers.

Another ratty beasty is a giant rodent from South America called Capybara, they’re semi-aquatic which means they spend a lot of time in water, they even mate under-water. That sounds fun! 😀


The giant tortoises were amazing to see, they look quite pre-historic. The one at the top is a Sulcata tortoise, also known as African Spurred Tortoises, they can grow to be one of the largest reptiles, weighing in at over 90 kilos. The one at the bottom is a Leopard tortoise and they can live to be over 100 years and weigh up to 55 kilos. They are named for their distinctive yellow colouration with black spots, similar to a leopard. Hmm, can’t really see it myself. I didn’t think of leopards when I saw them anyway.

Sulcata and Leopard troughing.

That will do for this time, stay tooned though for next week when we get to the big cats and doggies.

📷 😊

Northumberland Country Zoo ~ September 2017

I have mixed feelings about zoo’s, on the one hand I can’t help feeling animals and birds should be free, on the other hand seeing and photographing animals and birds you don’t/can’t normally see in daily life is always a thrill.  I only found out about Northumberland Zoo this year, so back in September Sophie and I went off to see what it was all about.  The zoo only got their licence in 2015, so it is quite new, and their philosophy is as good as it gets.

Our mission is to become a leader in the education and conservation of wildlife and their unique habitats, making it accessible to all whilst still providing a compelling visitor experience.

Our vision is to see a change in the perception towards wildlife and habitats which will lead to a sustainable natural world.

  • CONSERVATION IMPACT To increase our support for more conservation programmes including ones which we currently are involved with, both in-itu and ex-situ (natural environment and enclosure).
  • ANIMAL COLLECTION To set high standards and excel in the husbandry of the species in which we keep providing them with the opportunity to express natural behaviours.
  • SUSTAINABILITY To create an animal collection that is economically and environmentally sustainable for the long term.
  • To increase awareness, understanding and support of our animal collection and its projects as a centre for conservation and education excellence in the North East and beyond.

Here are some of the inmates that posed for us

Does anyone NOT love a meerkat?

or their babies?

This chap maybe not so cute

CAPE CRESTED PORCUPINE. Hystrix africaeaustralis.   Porcupines are not able to shoot their quills, they have to reverse into their attackers for the dangerous quills to stick in!

They say you’re only ever 9 feet away from a rat…

CAPYBARA. Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris.   Capybara are the largest rodent in the world and they are semi-aquatic which means they spend a lot of time in water, they even mate under-water!

Back to cute..

RING-TAILED LEMUR.  Lemur catta.  IUCN Red List Status: Endangered.  Ring-tailed lemurs have scent glands on their wrists, which they then rub all the way along their tails to then waft their tails at other lemurs in ‘stink fights’!

I do love exotic birds, such a nice change from spuggies 🙂

LAUGHING KOOKABURRA. Dacelo novaeguineae. Laughing Kookaburra are the largest species of Kookaburra in the world.

EAGLE OWL. Bubo bubo.  All owls have a fur like surface on their feathers which mean that they are quiet fliers and they can sneak up on prey, however this means they are not waterproof!

LOVEBIRD. Agapornis spp.  Lovebirds mate for life and pairs can be seen snuggled up together – hence the name.

As well as exotic creatures, there are some more familiar animals

CLYDESDALE. Fudge the Clydesdale Horse. He is just a big friendly giant. Clydesdales were bred as heavy horses to help with farm work when mechanical machinery had not been invented yet!

PIG.  Pigs have a very exact gestation period which is easy for remembering – 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days! After which, they can have at least a dozen piglets.

FALLOW DEER. Dama dama. Fallow deer can run up to 30mph and jump up to 2m in height!

And I’ll finish up with my favourites of the day, the humble Chicken. CHICKEN G. Gallus domesticu
There are hundreds of breeds of chicken bred for their meat, egg production or just purely for their looks.  I’m not quite sure which category these fine specimens fall into, Comedic Value wasn’t on the list!

For more cuteness, exotica and extra animals, the full album can be found HERE

and the zoo’s website HERE