Planet Earth made me do it!
I'm not an "animal lover". Yes, puppies are adorable, animal cruelty is vile and I really adored my first-and-only pet hamster (RIP darling baby boy - it's been 10 years too long without 'choo xo), but I never asked for a dolphin necklace on a family holiday, I'm not perpetually (see what I did there) rambling about my non-existent dogs and I can't tell a Shiatsu from a Salamander.
I did, however, develop a healthy addiction to the BBC series, Planet Earth. From the magnificent soundtrack and breath-taking cinematography, to the gentle purrs of Attenborough's stately voice...nothing spells 'unwind' quite like it.
Feeling inspired, my boyfriend and I decided to spend one Sunday at Whipsnade zoo. We watched hippos splash around their self-defecated pools, giraffes stick their tongues out the length of my arm and rhinos bask in the sun.
Ironically, the mistake we made was visiting the zoo after watching Planet Earth. Without getting too philosophical/animal-rights-activist-y (I'm sitting here slathered in a shea butter face mask that needs washing off soon), there was something depressing about the confinement, caging and humanising of the zoo's inhabitants. On Planet Earth, we watch antelope gallop through vast, uninhabited spaces, scrawny lionesses tear through their first kill in days and penguins waddling across sheets of ice that stretch as far as the eye can see. Oddly, there was something uncomfortable - something unnatural - about how comfortable Jan-the-10-year-old-tiger looked in her small cage. The saddest sight was the neglected owl corner. The magnificent birds we saw diving for prey and outstretching their beautiful wings were confined to tiny boxes; they couldn't even fly.
Despite my ethical dilemmas - and I know there are many amazing things about zoos too (conservation, funding, research etc) - we enjoyed the chance to escape busy London/Oxford and do something a little different.