I fed giraffes at Surrey zoo and felt like I was on safari

I love animals, especially giraffes, so when I found out about a giraffe feeding experience at Chessington Zoo I jumped at the chance. The Surrey zoo is located within the ground of Chessington World of Adventures south of London. I hadn't been to the theme park since I was of school age and I don't remember ever wandering around the zoo, so it was a weird yet exciting feeling returning to the family attraction. I went on a Saturday morning ready for my 10am session and felt like child again.

The theme park was bursting with vibrant colours, enthusiastic members of staff and there was an obvious buzz of eager youngsters rushing to find their favourite ride. Chessington Zoo offers a number of VIP animal experiences including a penguin encounter, Amur tiger encounter, capybara feed, skunk walk, gorilla sneak peek, carnivore zoo keeper and a sunset animal safari. READ MORE: Chessington to open World of Jumanji attraction at theme park and it sounds incredible Prices range from GBP8 to GBP150 offering something to suit all budgets.

The giraffe safari feeding experience I went on cost GBP50 per person and allows you to come face to face with the amazing African hoofed mammal. Whichever experience you choose, you will need to meet at a cabin opposite the Rattlesnake ride where a tour guide or zoo keeper will meet you. The price does not include entry to the theme park, so you will have to purchase a ticket for that too (GBP36 per person in advance).

Laura Nightingale went on a giraffe safariLaura Nightingale went on a giraffe safari (GBP50), which was a feeding experience from a safari truck

My tour guide stood out like a sore thumb for he was more animated than any of the kids running past my feet.

He swiftly guided me through the zoo where the meerkats and pygmy goats lived until we reached the entrance to the giraffe stable. I climbed onto a truck (it may not be suitable for some non-ambulant adventurers) and belted up. Our guide was passionate about the zoo residents and delivered his tour with enthusiasm and energy, plus I learnt lots about the Rothschild species too.

When booking your ticket, there is a minimum of two people per booking, and if other people outside your party book the same slot, you may have to share the truck with others. Visitors aged between five and 12 will also need to be accompanied by a paying adult. I was given a bucket of leaves to hand feed the six gentle giants from my seat, and it was the most magical experience.

The tour lasted around 30 minutes and I loved every single minute of it, in fact with the autumn sun shining on my face, it felt like I was on an African safari. While you are asked not to stroke the animals, they are allowed to lick you when feeding them (that's if if you're not too afraid of their long black tongues). My morning with these stunning creatures was superb, and as I watched fellow theme park-goers in the distance, I really did feel like a VIP.

Chessington ZooGet up close and personal with the amazing African animals at Chessington Zoo on a safari experience

How to book a animal experience at Chessington Zoo

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