We enter a room which is festooned in skulls, bones, skin, and animal parts, and for a moment I think I might have strayed into a therapy room for the disturbed, where we are invited to share our fantasies regarding dead things and what we like to do with them, but no, it's an educational workshop at Whipsnade Zoo called Touch and Talk.
I feel a bit squeamish sticking my fingers up a dead oryx's nose. Why, I don't know, because I am happy enough to wrap myself in beaten and dyed animal skin. It doesn't make sense, does it? But leather is a fantastic material. I can't help it. I am addicted to it. I will even confess to sniffing it, deeply.
In my defence, sniffing is the one sure way to tell between leather and pleather. Plastics these days can be so very convincing! Real dead animal skin carries a smell.
Ahem. Well, like I said, it's actually not a therapy session where we confess our secret addictions to animal skin. It's an educational room, teaching us not to buy dead animal skins on holiday. Except for the skins of cows, goats, pigs, we can buy those, apparently. They're not a problem. It's the tigers. (Although I do find myself wondering where I can get hold of some cheetah.)
But then! I fall in love with a frog! I'm sure Mr Froggy isn't endangered! I want to touch him all over, stroke his little head and put him in my pocket and live with him forever and I promise I will never, ever, skin it. Well, not while it's alive, obviously.
We reassemble after lunch for the Working With Animals session. Following the fine tradition of all secondary school careers talks, there is my daughter, slumped over the desk, head on her folded arms, her vacant eyes staring into nothingness. I never worry. She will come to life if you shout Horse!
It may be the careers session, but we get onto the aspect of working with dead things pretty quickly.
We all liven up to some forensic analysis. Our group of mamas enters into the spirit of How did it die? with great enthusiasm. I feel like Hercule Poirot! We decide our hapless red kite victim was poisoned, shot at, stabbed, and had its neck broken. The chickens did it in the library.
Finally! Both workshops are done, and we can take ourselves off for a ramble round Whipsnade!
I don't go far. Forget what I said about the frog. I am in love with these mongooses now. I want to be a mongoose. It would be fantastic. You get to run about all day long, eat stuff, go to sleep, engage in hours of indiscriminate, naughty misbehaviour just for fun, and then you can start it all over again the next day. And no-one wants to spread out your little pelt in front of the fire to roll about on it. Sounds like a perfect life.