This is our first official full day after arriving from Australia yesterday. We are visiting Germany to celebrate Seb and Lucia’s wedding anniversary with her friends and family. And as there are still a few days until the celebrations ,we are taking a look around the area where we are staying in Steinhagen. It turns out that today is a public holiday and Sebastian has planned a full for us. We are to set out after breakfast for our first stop at the Helmat -Tierpark Olderdissen in Bielefeld .
Today, May 30th, is a holiday, it’s not only Ascension day (the 40th day after Easter) but it is also Fathers Day or Vatertag. We have been told that this is a day for the men and that we will more than likely see them pulling carts full of beer around the park. To us ,this seems like a bizarre way to celebrate both a Christian holiday and Fathers day, but each to their own and it sure beats the usual socks and jocks that fathers generally get back home.
The day apparently began as a religious ceremony honouring Gott, den Vater (god the father) in the middle ages. It later became Vatertag, a family day honouring the father of the household. They would be taken to the village square and the father with the most children would be honoured with a reward, generally a ham.
Although the tradition fell out of favour it did make a resurgence in the 19th century. These days any man, not just fathers, participate in Vaterstag.
So we are prepared to see the local men partaking of their favourite brew while visiting the park with their families. And sure enough we do. There are a number of men pulling carts filled with beer. However, everything is quite orderly as they sit or stand chatting with family and friends having a quiet drink. I’m sure it’s not the case everywhere, but here in the Heimat-Tierpark Olderdissen everything is very orderly and civilised.
It’s such a beautiful day for a stroll around the zoo, and Gerlinde has brought the 3 dogs with us for an outing. I am interested to see how this turns out, but the dogs are well behaved.
Visiting the open air zoo is free, although parking cost 2€ per day, and houses animals that are native to Germany. This includes bears, beavers, otters, foxes, wolves and many others. There are a number of birds as well. The enclosures are large, giving the animals plenty of room to move around and the park is located in a beautiful woodland area with lots of trails where you can walk or cycle. We are taken in by the children’s playgrounds. Varinia mentions that it’s been a long time since she saw children being allowed to climb freely over such structures and just enjoy themselves. This is not the case in Australia where many children are ‘protected’ from getting hurt and often don’t get to experience the joys of being outdoors, climbing in playgrounds and park areas.
Apart from the children’s playgrounds there are a number of rustic wooden sets of table and chairs available for when you get too tired to walk and just want to sit for a moment. It’s a long walk around the park so these shaded areas are most welcome.
We are welcomed at the entrance by a statue of a large bear. The detail is quite remarkable.
The first exhibit we come to is the Snowy Owl. Ishta, my grandaughter who wasn’t able to come on this trip, is mad keen on owls, in fact one could almost say it is her obsession. So a photo of this beautiful, healthy specimen is a must.
Such big horns, the youngster had to make sure to get out of the way of the horns in the feeding frenzy.
There were horned animals all through the park. And impressive horns they are.
These are just geese, just like geese everywhere, but this whole scenario was worth watching. The goslings decided to branch off on their own into the paddock. The mother duck was trying to stop them from going in, but to no avail. She flapped about and honked at the ducklings trying to get them to come back, and finally she ducked under the fence to go and get them. The drake was too big to go under the fence, and you could almost see the sheer frustration on his face as he finally pulled himself up to his full height and flew up and over the fence. And didn’t the mother duck give the ducklings what for when she caught up to them, honking and flapping her wings. It was an amusing moment and I as a mother I could fully understand her frustration with her little ones. Unfortunately I didn’t get the whole incident on the video, but here it some of the action.
Where is Heimat-Tierpark?
The park is situated about 4 kilometres away from Bielefeld and it is part of the Teutoburg Forest.
What will you see?
Apart from the open enclosures there are also walk-in animal enclosures for an even closer look of the animals in their habitat. There are ponds for water birds and a petting zoo to engage the children. We bought some feeding pellets so that we were able to feed the deer, goats and sheep as we passed their paddocks. They are used to being fed and quickly rush to the fence as people approach.
Lucia feeding the donkey.
Other animals you will see on your way around the park include:
otters, alpine marmots, ibexes, wolves, wild boar, brown bears, donkeys, ponies, martens, squirrels, tarpans, highland cattle (with their huge horns), chamois, raccoons, lynx, wildcats, fallow deer, sika and mouflon. badgers, beaver, wolverine, foxes, rabbits, sheep, domestic goats, bison and guinea pigs.
Birds you will see:
ravens, various ducks, geese and swans, various species of owl, storks, plover, kites and kestrels.
I think it is a lovely way to spend a few hours, and the fact that this is free is pretty darned amazing when you consider that you would be hard pushed to find a zoo park anywhere else that you can go into for nothing. It’s a lovely walk with plenty of stops on the way to rest.
And at the end of a long walk, the rest rooms are always welcome.
And now it’s time to walk to the Meierhof Olderdissen to have some lunch. It’s a bit of a walk down the road and up some tracks. Well the way we went was a bit of a hike, but you can comfortably drive a short distance.