Monday, 19 August 2013

A Day as a Penguin Keeper at Birdland Park and Gardens

I am proud to introduce my daughter Jade, with her first guest post for you. She is here to tell you all about a lovely place to visit with children. Birdland Park and Gardens in Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire is a lovely, family friendly environment with lots to offer, including an assortment of over 130 bird species. The prices are very reasonable, and there are extra activities that can be prebooked at fantastic prices. Click on the link to visit their website for more information, or join them on Facebook here. For Jade, the best part of our visit to Birdland, for a life-long penguin fan, was the keeper experience, which included feeding the penguins, amongst many other duties. Here is an account of the day, in her own words. 


My name is Jade and I will tell you an interesting fact about me: I am one of the most privileged people in the world.

I believe I have met the oldest king in our world... and that's just the beginning!

I am telling you this out of context, so here is the story behind why I am OFFICIALLY one of the most privileged people in the world...
This was my room prior to the invasion, it is now 1/4 of the penguin pie otherwise known as "Their Room"...

Legend has told our great ancestors... that there is a bed in that room...
(but I believe it to be myth!)

Other than the odd trip to the zoo to see African penguins, a quick peek in my penguin encyclopaedia and occasionally being able to prise my door open long enough, to witness penguins tumble down from the shelves and fill the room with endless handstands, cartwheels, somersaults... (well, YOU know how they are!) I had never actually met a penguin without a wall to separate us, as I looked into his hungry eyes holding my fish and chips while the zoo keeper shouts for all the crowds to hear the message printed on the sign above: "YOU MUST NOT FEED THE PENGUINS!"

Me, aged 7

So, as you all know my mother lives for two things (1) The happiness of her children and (2)... Bargains! Once upon a time, not too long ago... I remember it like it was yesterday...she was able to combine BOTH of her passions into one (which in itself sounded like a buy one, get one free offer, so she was VERY happy at this point!). She had won a zoo keeper for the day prize at Birdland for me to go and see all of the birds, have lunch AND... see the only King Penguins in England! If you want to know why I'm privileged we could stop right here, but there was more...

When we got to the gates and the manager came to greet me I was already very excited, but then a certain sentence that he told my mother caught my ear...

"... We usually feed them about 2 O'clock, if you want to come and see her do it then." did I hear that right? Was I really going to...

FEED KING PENGUINS?!?!?! I had never heard of anyone's face crack clean in half because their smile was too wide, but I gave it a good go!

The day was amazing. First, a tour to see the birds. I nearly walked straight past the only bird who was kind enough to say "Hello!" (A very friendly parrot.) then we saw all types of birds safely tucked behind their aviary and a big, polite snow white owl who nodded his head at me whenever I passed by. I even got to hold a much smaller, tame owl which I felt very safe holding. After that, I saw them, my majestic creatures of beauty crane their necks to stretch to nearly my height as silver droplets of water sparkled down the smooth mat of black feathers. The wall was just below the necks of these creatures so you could reach out and touch them, but as I stood in awe wandering if the beaks of these beauties were used to test pencil sharpeners or the strength of blown up balloons, I decided against it.

During the morning, I had run in and put plates of food down for several types of birds, including Finches, Parrots and Touracos, which are a kind of fruit eating bird from Africa. I was even locked in an aviary myself, as I threw maggots up for a Bee Eater to catch mid -flight. I then grabbed lunch and ate that while admiring the owl and fascinating 3D models of birds made from old car parts. I then chopped fruit for the birds with some lovely colleagues who were telling me all about working at Bird land. I concluded my day with all the different birds by walking around the different aviaries holding a parrot, while bright yellow and white canaries whistled for my attention!

It was 2 o'clock and I was to feed the penguins, the only Kings in England. I stood in a small hut, preparing the fish with vitamins before I began and having a little safety talk with my manager for the day. I stepped out into the area closed off for penguins. I had imagined this day all of my life, as a child imagining all of the penguins bowing before me like a scene out of Mary Poppins as they all stood in line while I slid the fish down each ones throat and each one would wait patiently for his turn... 

That is why children have dreams, because they know NOTHING of the real world. "Why, what happened?" I hear you ask, well here is what happened.

I stepped out... and got my bottom pecked! Yes, that's right, dear stranger, I take an oath on my mother's coupon collection, that I stepped out and my bottom was pecked, while the other penguins decide to run at me while carrying spears on their faces. All I can remember from that incident was the keeper simply saying "Back Missy!" As if she was a barking dog! The bottom pecker, just last week, was named the Oldest King Penguin in the world! 

However, it was all fabulous after that, as I fed the penguins until we ran out of fish and the bucket was sitting there empty. The end of my day was truly the cherry on the cake as I was presented with a certificate for doing such a great job feeding them. Although, I felt like Birdland should receive a certificate for providing



  1. What a fantastic 1st post. Jade you are a lovely story teller, I hope your bottom wasn't too sore after the pecking! haha So nice your to live a dream. Well done hope to hear from you again soon

  2. jade you tell a story well! Thanks for sharing it with us

  3. That is brilliant and Jade I am very jealous! I feel the same way about Great Whites but I doubt I will ever get to feed them!

    Brilliant first post you should have your own blog!! XXX

  4. How cool that your mum won the prize but it is nothing in comparison to the immeasurable coolness of being able to tell people that the king had a thing about your bottom! A lovely day out, well written and I want to go there now! X

  5. Sounds like you had an amazing day Jade,you can deninatly hear the passion you have for the penguins,(and your mum about her coupons lol ) sounds like this could be a profession for you ?? good luck and fab reading :D xx

  6. What a fab post Jade :) you can read the passion you have for the animals you went to see,maybe a profession is in the works? thank you for your blog post very much enjoyed reading about birdland xx

  7. The penguin was later treated for food poisoning, but made a full recovery.

    Phil Dorrington.

  8. ahhh, what a lovely post and sounds like you had a fabulous time...once in a lifetime experience..well done jade!

  9. ahhh, what a lovely post and sounds like you had a fabulous time...once in a lifetime experience..well done jade!


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