Disclaimer: we were kindly gifted this experience day, however we have taken part in several experience days at Chessington World of Adventures and genuinely love them – we will be back for more!
Last year, we realised we had no ideas for Lily’s birthday and Christmas presents – we don’t have a playroom or anything, and her bedroom is the size of a large box, so more toys are out of the question and her friends kindly give her the arts and crafts that she loves as presents, so we started on getting her experience days, and now don’t think we’ll ever turn back!
We love our Merlin Annual Passes which give us 20% off the experiences at Chessington World of Adventures, what Lily likes to call her “happy place”, and we’d done the giraffe feeding and skunk walking experiences, which were both incredible.
Lily’s heart has always been set on the Junior Zookeeper Day and now she was old enough (age 7), she was absolutely buzzing that she could finally do the experience.
The animals you see on the experience vary depending on the time of year, day of the week and what needs cleaning/feeding, however I hope this review helps anyone wondering what to expect on an experience like this.
We were staying at the Safari Hotel, so were able to be there for the 8.45am meeting point. There was a bit of confusion over where to meet, as the gates are no longer open at 9am, however there was a lovely VIP area in the entrance to the hotel where we met our guide.
Ian took us through the park (have your park tickets ready to be scanned) along with the hotel guests through the Azteca entrance for early park access at 9am, then we were introduced to Daisy by the YooHoo children’s zoo, who would be our zookeeper for the experience.
We went inside a zookeeper hut where Lily was given a VIP Junior Zookeeper t-shirt (I’m not sure she’ll ever want to take this off!), and we had the opportunity to pop to the toilet here before the experience started.
The YooHoo Children’s Zoo
We started off at the YooHoo Children’s Zoo where we were introduced to the animals around the farm area and given a brief overview of what needed doing this morning.
The whole experience for the Junior Zookeeper day lasts around 3 hours, and we spent the first half of the experience within this area. It was so lovely, and not yet open to the public, so we could help out with the animals without many people being around.
Lily got involved with everything from feeding the donkeys and collecting sawdust, to cleaning out the guinea pigs and scooping the poop from the pigs!
She got to see what different food was given to the different animals and then what was involved in cleaning out the animal homes.
She was amazingly very excited about cleaning the poop out from the pigs and guinea pigs, as well as ensuring she didn’t leave the guinea pigs’ home until she had left it spotlessly clean.
It was a great way to see how different animals are cared for in different ways – and to see her enthusiasm for cleaning the poop too 🙂
One of the many beauties of Chessington World of Adventures is the amazing range of animals they have in the main zoo too. I have fond memories of visiting the zoo as a child, so it is lovely to now take Lily with me.
Obviously some of the animals are out of reach for the Junior Zookeeper day (such as the tigers and lions!), however we were amazed to get the chance to feed and visit some of the park’s other animals as part of the experience too.
After a quick toilet stop and hand wash, we went into a small warehouse to collect different food pots for the animals and then headed straight to the otters to give them some giant prawns. Lily loved throwing the fish for the otters into the water!
We then visited the smaller animals such as the skunks and raccoons, where we gave them some vegetables and meal worms. I loved seeing them stand up to catch their food!
We then walked through the back entrance of the park to visit the meerkats, which was definitely a highlight of the day – Lily was really excited to be able to stand in with the meerkats in their home and scatter their food around for them as well as to meet the beautiful baby meerkats.
Our final stop of the day was a very special trip to the giraffes to give them some food too. They were temporarily indoors as maintenance were fixing a fence, so it was incredible that we had the chance to visit them again in the middle of the day and give them some leaves before they were heading outside again.
Once we had finished feeding the giraffes, we went back to the hut by the zoo to wash our hands again and Lily was given a special certificate.
She was totally drawing out the experience and didn’t want it to end, as she was asking hundreds more questions about the animals and insects that were indoors too!
Once we had coaxed Lily away from Daisy, we headed out back into the theme park to be able to enjoy the rest of our day in the park – and straight to the Vampire Ride too!
I don’t know where to start in thanking the team at Chessington World of Adventures for such a magical day. Yes, it was a junior keeper day for Lily, but even I could feel the magic watching her!
Lily did not stop talking for pretty much the entire three hours (sorry Daisy!), and this was down to her being so excited the entire time.
Daisy asked her at the end what was her favourite part of the day, to which Lily replied “EVERYTHING!”, so it was definitely the sign of a great day.
I need to also send a big thank you to Daisy for being so amazing the whole morning and for being so patient with a very excited Lily throughout the experience – Lily even named her rainbow chameleon ‘Daisy’ that she won in the theme park, to remember how lovely she was.
It was an absolutely magical experience and Lily was quick-firing animal facts that she had learned the entire way home!
She was absolutely buzzing and she now definitely wants to be a zookeeper when she grows up – so thank you Daisy for inspiring her and thank you to Chessington World of Adventures for giving us such an incredible opportunity to get close to some truly amazing animals.
Tips & info for visiting the Junior Zookeeper Day
- The Junior Zookeeper Day is for children age 7+ to 16 years of age
- The experience lasts for about three hours
- There is a maximum of 2 children from 1 household on the experience
- Make sure you have theme park tickets or Merlin Annual Passes for visiting on that day for accompanying adults – the kids participating get entry included
- Even though Lily was doing the experience, I was able to go round with her and take photos
- Toilet and water stops are available throughout the experience
- Make sure you wear appropriate clothing/footwear – Lily wore her wellies – as it can be muddy / poopy / dirty with the animals and you are outside
- You can get 20% off VIP experience days with the Merlin Annual Pass or a hotel/glamping stay
- Make sure you book your experience in advance as there are limited spaces each day