Khao Kheow Zoo Pattaya

I visited this tourist attraction with my girlfriend and her lovely sister and boyfriend, with the latter acting as driver for the day.

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I had seen it advertised many times but always thought it was just another zoo, with animals in cages or hiding away from those who had paid top dollar to view them.

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However, this zoo offers an alternative to the mainstream attractions of a similar nature, for the animals are not in cages and in the majority of cases, you can get up close and personal.

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The creatures are separated from the tourists by trenches, small fences and in some instances glass but overall you have a clear and unrestricted view of all the animals. In the case of the monkeys and birds, there is no separation at all.

My first encounter was with the ostriches, which were kept apart by a small fence. We were close enough to touch them or as many did, feed them. They are obviously accustomed to being close to humans, for they were comfortable with our presence.

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To get up close like this is amazing and something I would highly advise, if you love animals.

Obviously there are beasts that you simply cannot access without the risk of losing your life, such as the lions, tigers or the hippos. But these creatures are roaming freely around their enclosure with plenty of space, living in a natural environment unlike the small cages you may be used to view animals in.

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The larger animals are still very much visible and easy to photograph, especially if you are patient.

Bears, rhinos and giraffes wander around within easy access to the photographer.

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You can feed the elephants and in one area, have you photo taken with them. One girl was seen with the trunk of an elephant wrapped around her, much to the amusement of the onlookers.

The aviary is awesome. A huge area specifically for birds, which again are free to fly or walk around. There is enough plantlife to give them protection or tranquility should they desire but generally speaking they again seem happy to enter the vicinity of their visitors and take food, which is for sale at every attraction within the zoo.

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The monkeys stole the show for me. They wander freely around the enormous park and will come up and take bananas from your hand. They will happily sit and devour their foodstuff, posing for photos till your hearts content.

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I would have paid the entrance fee just to photography the monkeys. They are a joy to observe and their behaviour is often cheeky and funny.

One stole a bag of bananas from Nom but we did manage to retrieve them but its bravery has to be admired, for she does not readily part with anything edible.

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Thailand is a hot and often humid country and as such, walking around this huge park is tiresome. There are numerous refreshment stops where you can purchase food, cold drinks, teas and coffees or if you dare, buy an ice lolly and try and eat it before it melts.

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You can also hire vehicles to drive around. These are similar to golf carts. There is a tourist train vehicle, which resembles a larger version of the golf cart and seats around 20 people.

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Or you can drive your own vehicle, which gives you complete control over your visit.

Like many attractions there is always a downside. Everything cannot be perfect but in this instance it could be, with a little bit of investments.

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The toilets for instance. They are badly in need of modernisation. Most western visitors are not used to squatting and rinsing with a bowl of water. Bring those facilities up to date and you have a fantastic tourist attraction.

I heard people complaining that Thais get in cheaper than tourists like myself. Why not? This is common in Thailand. They look after their own first. There is nothing wrong with this.

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On the day my three Thai friends paid 350 baht to get in, including the car. On the other hand I was charged 300 baht just for me. I have no problem with this. I mean £6 for a wonderful day out is hardly over charging.

My gripe is that I could not pay along with the Thais. I had to get out the car and walk to a separate ticket office to pay. There is no requirement for this. Let me pay at the same point of call as my Thai friends.

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I was treated with the utmost respect by the Zoo’s staff so again a plus point.

Another bonus is the fact that the Zoo is dedicated to the preservation and well being of the animals they have on display. Wherever possible, they roam free but where they have to be segregated for our safety, the animals have an abundance of space, foliage, water etc to enjoy. Many of them can be seen frolicking, getting up to playful antics with their partners.

And those monkeys. Well go along just for them and you won’t be disappointed.

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My one regret is not having two cameras. I could have made so much use of it armed with my 600mm lens but there is always another day.

Well done to everyone at Khao Kheow Zoo for bringing these wonderful creatures into our domain for our enjoyment, yet providing them with a safe environment that resembles their natural habitat.

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