It’s not a Zoo!

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(He’s in a bit of a hurry)

Turns out the Zoo I thought we were staying at is more a nature reserve with botanical park, called Parque Biológico de Gaia. There are no elephants but there is a dinosaur…

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(There are little birds…)

I went to check it out this morning thinking I’d be done in 10 minutes or sooner if the rain returned. It’s quite big… it covers 35 hectares with a 2.8km path running through it. Two and a half hours later I arrived back to the camper with my camera battery exhausted from taking pictures!

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(…and big birds – storks)

I had met Fernando who has worked at the park for 18 years. We walked every path and he pointed out loads of interesting things. Despite no common language we got on really well! He told me about the cork trees which grow for 25 years before their bark is first cut to produce cork and then they are cut every 9 years.

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(The Cork tree)

He pointed out camouflaged birds in the enclosures that I missed. He knew how to bring the deer up close to get the best pictures…

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And he knew where the teen tiny wild boar baby would be…

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(Ok it’s not a great picture but… that’s the mammy wild boar on the right with the little boar – he’s fawn coloured – walking out from under her. Can you see him?)

But the most amazing animals were the Ibis, they looked like statues, they were standing so still and so proud, then the younger ones moved. As well as all the animals and the natural setting there are farm buildings which I think are original. One has a water-mill and five pairs of millstones. Another is called the Brazilian farm, when locals returned with their fortune from Brazil they built bigger farm houses… at least I think that’s the story?

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(The Ibis. Can you see the one in the cave?)

I’m going back again tomorrow. I’ll bring food and water and Denis, Mairead.

Ps Thank you so much to all the people who sent me pictures of the snow in Ireland. Below is the one I got from my mother-in-law…

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