Kids Corner: Hard at work with the ark angels

The volunteers helping to keep Odsherred Zoo afloat

We’ve driven past the gates a hundred times. High wooden gates flanked by tall hedges near our summer cottage. But we’ve never been inside.

So when we heard some months ago that this particular animal rescue centre was looking for sponsors to help keep its head above water, we felt a bit guilty. And we were therefore extra happy to see a notice on Facebook asking for all hands on deck to help get the place shipshape for the new season. 

We fished out some old clothes and arrived bubbling with excitement. I hadn’t considered that we must look like tramps. I hadn’t dreamt we would be the only ones. 

But apparently my message had been overlooked in the flood of emails and chores to be done. The notice on the website asking for volunteers should really have been deleted due to a technicality – it would have cost 1,500 kroner per nose to insure each helper. 

Undaunted 
Determined not to let this dampen our spirits, we smiled brightly at the kind lady who explained the problem, seized two rakes and spent the next three hours mucking out. Not the cute little ponies. Not the adorable otters. Not the zebra. Nor even the iguana. No, we were understandably not allowed into the park itself. 

And as Jake has broken his arm twice and his toe once in the past year, that was okay. No, Jake and I spent three hours mucking out the hedges on either side of the driveway. 

Just desserts
We were pretty wrecked afterwards, but the sweet little monkeys in the enclosure nearby kept our spirits up by waving and cheering us on. Luckily the weather was nice too and so were the ice creams and cola we got for helping. We also got free tickets for when the park was open, the zookeepers not so busy and visitors insured. 

Back for more
So four days later, we were back. We took Laura with us this time, and boy, was the camel glad we did! Spring was not only in the air, but also in the step of that awesomely amorous beast as he trotted over and launched into his throaty serenade. Laura bellowed back. And while the pair of them declared their feelings out loud – very loud – everyone else held their ears … to stop us giggling our heads off. 
We eventually had to leave him behind because Laura wanted a pony ride. The pony’s name was Filur, which is also the name of a Danish ice lolly (popsicle). Fortunately, the pony was more comfortable to sit on!

Silly Billy
We finally pitched up feeding grass to the goats. One portly billy goat was really throwing his weight about. There he was, jumping into the container of sliced carrots, scattering the contents, chasing the other goats and butting them firmly out of the way with his horns – right on their poor backsides.  Guess that’s why bottoms are called ‘butts’. 

Noah kidding!
Anyway, after a ‘hull’ of a visit with plenty of fresh air, we found out that you can play Noah for a day. We haven’t tried it ourselves – yet – but in a world of electronics and iPhones, it would be a refreshingly unusual treat for a budding biologist. It costs 1,000 kroner, but one thing is sure … the money will go to a very good cause! 

The age limit starts at six years old. The idea is that you leave your child with a friendly zookeeper at the helm from 10am until 3.30pm, but stay in the area just in case your offspring gets cold feet and bails out. If all is swell, they spend the day helping to feed and care for the gentler beasties. 

Bearing possible language barriers in mind, perhaps six is slightly optimistic and maybe a conventional visit to a local zoo with parents would be better for young kids. Either way, you can make an animal mask like we did when we got home (see how and more photos at helendyrbye.blogspot.com).


Helen Dyrbye is a published author, translator and former scout leader from East Anglia in England who relocated to Denmark a long time ago and loves it here as much as 'back home'.