Moray is a small County within the United Kingdom but like Scotland, it delivers well above its weight in fabulous activities and things to do. Therefore in our bedrooms, you will always find an A-Z listing of Things To Do from the house plus my series of blogs such as this one work through the alphabet to give you extra ideas to plan your holiday activities. Scotland is not just about whisky – this time we are on Z for Zoo.
In this day and age Zoos are perhaps not as popular as they were as the attraction of seeing animals maintained in cages loses its appeal. However in this case the Zoo in question is actually the Highland Wildlife Park so is less of a Zoo and more of a national Park.
Recently you may well have seen the Highland Wildlife Park on both the national and world news with the birth of three rather gorgeous looking and endangered Amur Tiger cubs.
Prior to that, the Park had a famous resident namely Hamish the Polar bear cub born at the park. The first Polar Bear to be born in the UK for 25 years he now lives in Doncaster.
Situated in the Cairngorms National Park in an area classed as Mountain and Tundra reserve many of the residents of the park will be in a suitable climate. Open seven days a week the park is just a scenic hour drive from us. You can drive around the park in your own car and stop to investigate walk around areas on foot.
Whilst the Park is partnered with Edinburgh Zoo and does indeed host a number of non-native residents seldom seen in this country. However, rest assured you are likely to see local residents as well. Look out for Scottish Wildcats, Capercailles, Red Squirrels and of course Red Deer.
Planning your visit to the Park in these Covid 19 times is good advice and especially with the new Amur Tiger Cubs on view which will no doubt be a popular attraction as many of us would not normally expect to see Amur Tigers in our lifetime.
When driving in the Park take the time to drive some of the smaller more scenic routes through the Cairngorms. Visit Carrbridge, see the stunning mountains in the far distance. Look out for wildlife on the road which is very likely to be sheep – this is Scotland after all.
Depending upon your schedule you will be very close to the Highland Folk Museum and you might like to take a step back in time and experience some authentic Highland life. This is probably a unique opportunity to get a glimpse of Highland Life and see the Highland landscape at both of these very popular attractions.
Another attraction close by is the Loch Garten Nature Reserve well known for having Ospreys in residence since the 1950s. Of course, these are all wild birds so there are no guarantees but the walks around the woodland environment make for a great day out
Then again if Zoos or animals in captivity albeit endangered animals that are at least breeding Scotland does offer the chance to view many different species of wildlife actually in the Wild. At the right time of year Red Deer are often easily seen around Loch Muick and most of the year the Moray Firth is home to a large number of dolphins, porpoises, minke whales and recently Orcas.
Of course, your wildlife viewing does not stop when you leave the park. If you spend time wandering around the grounds here at Blervie you are very likely to see Roe Deer, Red Squirrels, Hares, Foxes, Badgers, Pine Martins. If you are looking for birdlife expect to see Buzzards, Pheasants, Woodpeckers, Oystercatchers, Blue Heron and many others not to mention the owls at night.