Animal magic for family

Luton burns survivor Shamiam Arif and her family were VIP guests at Whipsnade Zoo

Luton burns survivor Shamiam Arif and her family were VIP guests at Whipsnade Zoo

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There’s nothing like a day at the zoo to entertain, educate and interest children of all ages.

Luton burns survivor Shamiam Arif and her family were lucky enough to be invited to spend a day at Whipsnade as VIP guests before going back to school this week.

And in spite of the torrential rain, the youngsters had a ball.

The penguins are perennial favourites and there were shrieks of delight when they saw these amusing little birds strutting their stuff and diving for fish thrown to them by their keepers.

Shamiam, 14, is horse mad and was delighted to see the zoo’s Grevy zebras up close and personal in the Africa enclosure.

The Challney High pupil, her brother Shakaib, sisters Shamita and Monoor and cousins Aadil, Ayesha, Bilal and Haris were also keen to check out the 30 different species in the butterfly biome – one of the largest in the UK.

They saw Amara and Kojo, the zoo’s West African dwarf crocodiles, but didn’t spot the pair’s four babies.

Next stop was the hippo pool where Lola obliged by lumbering down to the water edge to take a dip.

Then on to Hullabazoo Farm where they took turns in patting the goats, ponies and rabbits.

Finally, with the rain pelting down, they took a car safari through Asia and were rewarded with several species of buck crossing the road leisurely in front of them.

> Shamiam was badly burned as a baby when a candle fell into her cot.