Snow leopard cubs make star appearance

Luna and Loki
Luna and Loki
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It was all about the snow leopard cubs on a recent family trip out to Lakeland Wildlife Oasis near Milnthorpe.

We’d been once before, and found the offering to be diverse and educational, although we were a little miffed that some of the glass in the display cabinets was so dirty you couldn’t see through it.

Feeding time

Feeding time

This time however, it looked like a deep clean had taken place, and everything was visible.

The mini independent zoo is set out into sections, taking you through a timeline of life going back 3,000 million years.

It’s well worth spending time at each display.

One of the highlights are the woodcutter ants, marching endlessly along ropes that connect trays of fruit and leaves to their earthy lair.

Meercats at Lakeland Wildlife Oasis

Meercats at Lakeland Wildlife Oasis

They share the warm glass atrium with butterflies and spiders, in particular a large and menacing looking bird eating spider. Locked up thankfully.

Another room houses lizards, frogs and tortoises, and bats hanging from the ceiling, just watch you don’t spend too much time underneath them.

The main attractions however are outside.

The zoo prides itself on being part of international breeding programmes, and keeps some of the world’s most threatened species, including the snow leopard.

The meercats never fail to lift the spirits with their cute and inquisitive ways, and we even manage to get up close and personal, being allowed to stand in their walled off little home at feeding time.

We didn’t know what to expect with the two new arrivals - snow leopard cubs Loki and Luna - assuming they’d be holed up inside dozing.

And they were nowhere to be seen at first, their parents Pavan and Tara pacing the ground, or lounging on top of the perspex tunnel that takes you through their compound and allows a great view of the big cats.

But all of a sudden they came bounding out, much to the delight of our children, who were captivated by their playful ways, the male, Loki, dominating the fighting, and chasing Luna around, pushing her over, and mock clawing.

This was a real treat and we felt lucky to have witnessed this brief explosion of personality.

Before long they settled down on top of the tunnel with their parents, allowing us some great picture opportunities.

We stopped for lunch in the zoo’s cafe, ordering tuna and cheese toasties, coffee, and chocolate milk which was reasonably priced and certainly warmed the cockles as we headed back outside for the leopards’ feeding time.

Zoo boss Jo Marsden brought out two dead rabbits, so the attraction may not be for the squeamish, and secured the cats inside before dropping the rabbits inside the compound.

Meanwhile one of the zookeepers Mylo talked about the leopards, their natural habitat and their capabilities, as we watched these beautiful and powerful animals dine al fresco.

There was plenty more to see, including the endangered fossa, from Madagascar, and beautifully coloured birds.

It’s a relaxed and absorbing experience, and one that allows you to take your time and get to know the animals.

Prices vary depending on how you buy them, but general admission is £8.95 for adults, £5.95 for children and free for children under three.

For more information visit www.wildlifeoasis.co.uk.

By Nick Lakin.