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Belated Birthday Celebrations At Cologne Zoo

At the start of this month, my little girl turned 2! I know, I can't believe it either. It feels like only yesterday that I was in Lewisham hospital, high as a kite on gas and air, giving birth to her. Now she can walk, talk (mostly she just requests Peppa Pig but the fundamentals are there), and - in true terrible twos fashion - orchestrate the most epic of tantrums. It has gone by so quickly and she really does make me proud everyday. She is so loving but also absolutely bigger than life. She is a friend to everyone - to the extent that I often have to drag her away from grouchy old men in shops that she is shouting 'hi!' at increasingly loudly as they try to ignore her. And she is the best big sister that Asaba could ever ask for. 

Unfortunately, on her actual birthday, Isaac was working. I tried to make the day special with a lot of chocolate cakes, a wide selection of Peppa Pig themed gifts, and a trip to the park to see the ducks but we knew we wanted to do something a bit bigger all together when we got the chance. So, this weekend, we surprised her with a trip to Cologne Zoo.

Now I know that many people dislike the concept of zoos and, personally, I wouldn't like to support anywhere that keeps animals in environments that don't fit their needs so I did a bit of research before deciding to go to Cologne Zoo and what I found was very reassuring. The zoo - unlike many I have visited in the UK - was very spacious and, although there was a lot to see there, you didn't get the sense that the zoo was packed full of as many animals as possible for the visitors' benefit. The enclosures were a lot larger than most zoos I had visited before and the numbers of animals in each enclosure seemed to be really limited. Also Cologne Zoo are partnered with many conservation charities to help improve their standards, set up breeding programmes for endangered species, and raise money for the vital work these charities do world-wide. You can read more about the work they do here.

It was an absolutely lovely day. Once we had arrived and bought our tickets (I think it was around 30 or so euros for all of us which I thought was really reasonable), we headed first to the aquarium (mostly because I had insisted on wearing my camel coat instead of my puffer coat because fashun and I was absolutely freezing my bits off). Ava was beside herself running around looking at all the fish tanks - although, fairly understandably, the eels did creep her out a bit. They had an educational section on the harmfulness of plastic too which I thought was pretty awesome.

We then headed back out into the cold to look at the other animals. As we entered the zoo, they had photographers who offered to take your photo and then you could choose if you wanted to purchase it or not. They got some gorgeous ones of Ava (which surprised me as she got scared of the photographer and hid behind my legs, emerging only to stick her tongue out at the camera) which we chose to purchase for 15 euros for two pictures.

We wandered around the zoo for a good two or three hours with Ava intermittently walking, on Isaac's shoulders, or in the pushchair and with Asaba in the sling. We saw a lot of different animals but my favourite part of the trip had to be the elephants.

Unlike in the UK where I have mostly just seen elephants kept indoors, Cologne Zoo has a huge outdoors enclosure which is absolutely massive as well as a large indoors area. It was amazing to see the elephants interact with one another whilst being a fair distance away from visitors. They were even trumpeting to each other! 

It was such a lovely day out and I would definitely recommend visiting - especially if you have small children.

You may also enjoy:
Ava Turns One
We Moved To Germany
Berlin Travel Guide
My First Impressions Of Life In Germany

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