I'm not sure what it is about Linton Zoo that I find depressing... Perhaps it's the over grown evergreens which block most of the light; the snow leopards washing in their tiny enclosure; or simply the fact that my mum took me there the day after my parents announced their divorce when I was 13... but the place has always given me a slightly uneasy feeling.
I visited last Bank Holiday Monday, and found the place exactly as I remembered it from my childhood. Rather dark, uncared for and with the same grim-looking children's play park.
"He looks about as miserable as me." Said my mum flatly, as we watched a leopard peer gloomily out from his house. His cage, and many of the other enclosures, were mysteriously decorated with dead Christmas trees.
Two snow leopards washed; a pair of lions dozed; a shell duck looked for water in an empty pond.
I know that Linton has won awards in the past for its standard of care, but the place to me has a feeling of neglect. More like a zoo from the 1950s or 60s.
It wasn't all bad: we found a family of cotton top tamarins grooming one another in their house, and watched a giant tortoise attempt to eat a piece of carrot far too big for it.
I have to say though, if you are looking for a zoo in the Cambridge area, Shepreth has much more going for it.