We’re not going to the zoo, zoo, zoo…

You can.

I am quite sure that you can.

Adam can’t.

My nine year old child can’t. So we can’t either.

Two years ago Adam and I went to our local zoo for what would end up being the final time. He and I have spent many, many hours at Newquay Zoo. He loved the warty pigs best of all and watching them at feeding time was always a central part of any visit. As was the café. Great food, really great food! Ah, yes, it was the perfect day for us both.


My son, like everyone else, needs the toilet.

My son cannot sit unaided, stand or walk but he still needs the toilet.

Newquay zoo has a toilet with a wheelchair logo on the door but it is not quite large enough for a powered wheelchair to go in and shut the door, let alone be able to get a person out of their chair. So I had perfected (cobbled together) a way for him to use the toilet in the back of our car. We have a VW so it is bigger than most but it shrinks when you have a powered wheelchair in the back. Let alone a toilet chair, two carers and need space to lie your child on the floor.

This particular day was hot. Gorgeously hot.

Grandma was with us and we were having a lovely day out with friends.

Then Adam needed the toilet.

So we headed back to the car, got the back open, lift down, powered wheelchair in, lift up, door closed. We had to lift him from his chair, lie him on a mat on the floor of the car, sort clothes, lift him onto his toilet chair and, thankfully, we made to the toilet in time!


Or was it?

We are now in a hot car, on a hot day, with a child on a toilet which now has “contents”. Yet we need to get the child off the toilet, back to the floor, dressed, then back in his chair before we can open the door. Oh, and there is the small matter of the “contents”. On a hot, hot, hot day.

We are in a car park outside of the zoo area. The nearest toilets are inside the zoo. A hasty search to find enough bags to seal the “pot” and then the lovely journey through the gift shop, all the while hoping that we do not meet anyone who wants to talk to us and that the toilet is free so that I can finally end this horrendous nightmare.

That was a horrible day. I didn’t think it could get much worse. But it did.

As awful as this experience was, there was something worse.

We reached the stage where I could no longer lift him. The stage where it is no longer safe, and, in all honesty, it had never been dignified or right for him to use the toilet in the back of the car.

We can no longer go to the zoo.

Yet all he needs is a toilet which also has a bench and a ceiling hoist. This is all which is stopping so many children and adults from enjoying a day out.

A few  weeks ago some post arrived for Adam. Inside was a family ticket for Newquay Zoo, gifted to him by a local charity. Adam was utterly thrilled! “Yay! We can go to the zoo!” He thought we were going to go immediately and I have not seen him this excited for a long time.

Every part of my being started to hurt.

Does he think we stopped going because we couldn’t get tickets?

I don’t know what to say to him.

I don’t know how to make this right.



Update 22/09/16

There have been some discussions with Newquay Zoo and they are keen to look into ways to install a properly accessible toilet!

I have also been contacted by Keep It in Cornwall for Kids who want to help make it happen!

Cornwall has some wonderful people.

An open mind is all that is needed to get things started. I hope to have even better news to share soon.





32 thoughts on “We’re not going to the zoo, zoo, zoo…

  1. It’s an awful situation that other people just don’t think about. I’m campaigning for more ‘changing places’ that will make this situation easier and I’d like to share this post with the campaign. But since I don’t think that will ever cover every situation, I’m also looking at getting a mini camper van that is kitted out with a suitable toilet for my severely disabled daughter. I hope you find a solution too.


  2. We have an annual pass for kerrianne. She loves the zoo! Her visit now consists of changing her just before leaving, a quick visit to Newquay Zoo and then home again all within a couple of hours. They do have a baby changing room which is a good size and an adult changing mat available. Unfortunately our child is almost 15 and getting her on and off the floor is not safe without a hoist 😥


  3. This is heartbreaking. It made me cry. What a shame your child cannot go to a place that he loves. I’ve been to Newquay zoo with my disabled daughter. But she can walk around so doesn’t have the same problem. We had our bath removed for the same reason as I had to lift her in and out as she couldn’t lift her legs over the side.
    This problem you and many others like you needs sorting out. They provide places to change babies, but not disabled people. They are abused in so many ways.


  4. Don’t they have a facility room that’s private and could be used as a standby toilet changing room that could house your portable hoist and portable loo?
    I reckon once we get HFC sorted we shift the petition over and show Newquay Zoo how they need to change the facilities to include a changing places room.. Got to keep up the momentum and show these people that many are voicing the same needs and its a no brainer as far as advertising goes for them.


    1. https://ordinaryhopes.wordpress.com/2016/06/30/good-news-from-hall-for-cornwall/ They have agreed to do it.

      To be honest, I think the zoo realise that things are not good enough.

      When I wrote this, it was more to show people how we have managed in the past and to show that it really wasn’t okay. Unfortunately, now we cannot even do that.

      Portable hoists are okay but they take so much floor space and still mean I need a carer to come too, both to help shift the equipment in and out of the car and to actually use it.

      We are very fortunate to have a mobile hoist, not everyone does, but they are also heavy and large and it isn’t easy to get it in the car.

      If more attractions became fully accessible, Cornwall would be an amazing place for visitors with disabilities.


      1. Tell us when you want to go and you have a very willing family of carers here. I can have a word with a few of the care homes nearby to see if we can sort an alternative…


        1. Thank you. I know you guys would but it still isn’t fair on Adam to have to leave the zoo. By the time you get back to the car, strap his chair down, drive somewhere, get out…

          Certainly isn’t good when you neeeed to go nowwwwwww!!!!


  5. I cannot imagine not being able to take a child to a zoo – for the child and the parent. These are some of my most cherished moments and memories. Most children readily related to animals; this dad still does. Every parent and every child deserves full access to these and other places.


    1. Thank you. We did used to love visiting the zoo. Adam adored the warty pigs and we would spend ages watching them.

      Sadly, it isn’t just the zoo that we can’t go to. Very few places have fully accessible toilet facilities. The Changing Places toilet campaign has been running for 10 years but there is still nothing set down in law. I am sure that many businesses just don’t know what is needed and I can completely understand that. After all, how would you know if nobody tells you? Families like mine don’t like to say anything, we don’t like to cause a fuss and we normally feel bad enough when out as it is and for too many years nothing has changed.

      I am really uncomfortable with standing up and bringing this issue into the public eye but if I don’t, what will happen to my son in the future?


  6. I’m trying to imagine the response I would get if I suggested that Edward (who is almost exactly Adam’s age) use the toilet in the back of our car…


  7. You’ve really opened my eyes to something I never knew was an issue. I thought disabled toilets were pretty much everywhere and though it must be sometimes frustrating finding someone to open the door (they always seem locked with no assistant around), I didn’t realise about ceiling hoists. This is where blogging with a particular need or interest can really change the world. Perhaps this could be the start of a national campaign and I’d queue up to sign a petition. When something this sad happens, there must be a way of making it good for Adam and so many others like him. Jo x #BloggerclubUK


  8. Having never known anyone who is disabled, this is not something I’d ever really thought about so I’m really glad that you shared this. We love going to the zoo as a family and I find it a real shame that other families can’t experience this because of what is a basic human right. I’m quite shocked that such a large establishment lacks such basic facilities (although from what you have written I understand they are not exactly basic but it’s still a right, not a privilege to be able to use the toilet). I sincerely hope you can find a solution #BloggerClubUK


    1. Thanks for sharing my post. It is good to know that more people are understanding what these facilities mean.


  9. That’s dreadful. A long way from you I know but if you ever get up north, Chester zoo has a fully accessible disabled toilet with bench and hoist in the middle of the zoo near the main restaurant.


  10. as was said in previous comments it is uttterly heartbreaking to not being able to take your child to the places he/she loves. It does make one think that we are still a way off being a fully inclusive society. #kcacols

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Even having one more person realising that can help. The more people who think about it and share the information, the more people will know. Who knows? Somebody could end up reading who is in a position to bring about a big change. Thanks for caring.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh my goodness, this broke my heart! We have a zoo membership and my son loves going, I can’t imagine telling him that we can’t go any more. It’s so important that people like yourself bring this to light because it’s just impossible to understand it any other way. Disabled loos seem huge to me, but obviously they are not well enough equipped. I really hope you can get more appropriate facilities for your son and for so many other children (and adults) too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. The one at our zoo is barely large enough to get the wheelchair in. Even at McDonalds recently we struggled to turn the powered wheelchair just to reach the sink to wash his hands. There was no way he could have used the toilet in there but thankfully we just wanted to wash hands before eating. It was a squeeze!

      When you need a bench and hoist as well your world shrinks. I have also had a number of very able wheelchair users get in touch to say that most disabled toilets don’t give them the space or support rails to self transfer. It is time for the planners and architects as well as the people in charge of setting regulations to actually ask users what is needed.

      It really does break my heart to not be able to do all the things m son wants to do. It is even worse when he says he doesn’t want to go because he doesn’t want an accident.


  12. That’s so heart breaking, it seriously bought a tear to me eye. It made me realise I take too much for granted. I really hope people listen to you and that one day again you can enjoy going to the zoo. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope that you come back again Sunday after next x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Our local zoo is listening and I have a wonderful local charity who are keen to help make it happen! Early days and I don’t want to tell Adam yet just in case but we have a willingness to look into it and that is a positive first step!


    1. It really is upsetting. He so desperately wants to go. Newquay Zoo are now aware of the need and understanding the importance of these facilities and have said that they are keen to improve! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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