Anonymous review June 2009
This is a small scale, BIAZA approved, zoo between Keswick and Cockermouth in the Lake District. You have to appreciate that it is an up and coming zoo when visiting, and that it won't be in the same league as many others zoos but give it a couple more years and it will be much improved. This isn't a full day out for everyone, but an excellent way to pass an afternoon in the Lake District.
Trotters is busy in the summer however it is set in enough land to not make it feel too crowded. There is a full table of Keeper Talks, including Lemurs, Otters, Lynx, Reptiles and Birds of Prey displays. There are grassed areas for picnics by the Tapir enclosure, but apart from that there is not really large areas for enjoying the sun. There are no gardens and the whole atmosphere is says petting zoo with exotics.
The highlights for us were:
Birds of Prey Display - The display is announced before hand so you are reminded where to go. 3-4 birds are used each time and sometimes you see them interacting with the wild birds of prey! The Keepers are knowledgeable and this shows in their care of the birds and skill in flying them.
Canadian Lynx - Trotters has the only Canadian Lynx in the UK, and they have a breeding pair so you might well see cubs. The enclosure is a great size for Lynx and when we visited we saw the keeper doing enrichment for the cats which is great. The other cat species were also good to say, and included Servals and Fishing Cats.
Lar Gibbons - We loved watching these Gibbons and it took us a while to see the Gibbon who was calling, as he was in the top of a tree! They were playing happily and were a delight to watch move about (although the house seemed not much more than a shed!)
Enrichment - This is the only zoo where we've seen Keepers actively providing enrichment. There was a keeper giving the Capuchins little envelopes and, when asked, we found out she'd hidden mealworms in them. The Capuchins loved this! It kept them entertained, but even if it hadn't it was uplifting to see the keeper trying hard to keep her animals entertained and active for us. There was also enrichment for the Otters, the Red Panda and the Squirrel Monkeys.
The disappointments for us were:
Reptile House - Was something which you could knock up in your own garden! However the collection was very good, and we saw some Turtles we'd never even heard of before. The Reptile Talk was in here and was very good, the Keeper was very confident with the Snakes which put us at ease.
Meerkats - In the smallest enclosure I have seen them in before, however there was only 2 so the space was probably adequate for them.
Mandrills - Seemed to be locked in the house all day so could only be viewed through the windows.
There are only two sets of toilets, but considering visitor numbers this is not too bad. There is a nice cafe which sells home cooked meals and cakes, I would recommend the Mars Bar Cake! There are some drink and chocolate machines around, but again not many. The shop is small and aimed at children but the prices are reasonable. The car park is free and is a 2 minute walk from the zoo entrance. There is no guidebook available which is a shame, however you can easily find your way around without a map and there are good animal information signs. We seemed to see the keepers working a lot here, they were often walking around with visitors which made them accessible so we could ask anything we needed. There is a children's play area in the Green Barn which has a soft play area for small children, some 20p ride on machines and the other set of toilets are in here. There is also another play area, outside, which has a good view of the goats and ponies. In the summer they do Pony rides for a small charge and they also run tractor trailer rides around the outside of the park.
A lot of the enclosures give you a good view for photography although some of the Primates enclosures do not allow this which is a shame. Most of the animals can be viewed in their houses so you do get to see all the animals even on a rainy day.
We think Trotters is a lovely place to visit with the kids if you are in the area, some of the enclosures are not brilliant but you get the impression that things are improving. For example it looked like the Capuchins and Ruffed Lemurs had new play frames which was great. The animals all looked very healthy, in good condition and nothing we saw left us with that 'sick' feeling you sometimes get at bad zoos. It is cheap to get in which is reflective of the smallness of the zoo, however if you go to all the talks you can spend the best part of the day here. You get your moneys worth.