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A Day at Howletts Wildlife Park

We spent a weekend in Canterbury and whilst we were away we visited Howletts Wild Animal Park as it was really close to where we were staying. We last went to Howletts before kids and couldn’t wait to visit with the children.

A Day at Howletts Wildlife Park

What is Howletts Wildlife Park?

Howletts is a wildlife park run by the John Aspinall Foundation. It’s home to 390 animals that live across the 100 acre site. Howletts is known for its encouragement of close personal relationships between staff and animals, and for the breeding of rare and endangered species. When Steve Irwin visited the park in 2004 he described the zoo’s gorillas as “the finest in the world”.

Our visit to Howletts

Howletts has plenty of parking and once inside the park you will walk a great deal but it’s all well paced and with plenty to look at. Plus, the size of the site means that animals have really good size enclosures.

A Day at Howletts Wildlife Park

We started our visit seeing a beautiful rhino in a vast enclosure. She watched us with interest and it was lovely to see her happily wandering around. It’s incredible to be able to get up close to such magnificent animals in the UK.

A Day at Howletts Wildlife Park

We saw a pair of bongo play fighting in their enclosure and a bunch of dholes that reminded us of really well looked after foxes. They were beautiful.

A Day at Howletts Wildlife Park

Our route took us past the new gorilla enclosure which was a fantastic space for the animals to play and explore. It’s lovely that, at Howletts, the younger gorillas and the older ones are kept at separate side of the park to give the older ones more quiet and rest, almost like a retirement complex for the older gorillas.

A Day at Howletts Wildlife Park

We saw wolves, tigers and the most playful baboon families that were fantastic to stand and watch. We regularly saw staff in and around the enclosures who made me sure we knew to ask any questions. They were all so friendly and helpful.

A Day at Howletts Wildlife Park

The furthest part of Howletts is full of animals in the largest enclosures – antelope, cheetahs, bison and so much more. Plus, you can see the Howletts mansion from a distance, along with where John Aspinall is buried in front of the mansion.

A Day at Howletts Wildlife Park
A Day at Howletts Wildlife Park
A Day at Howletts Wildlife Park

Around the park there are various memorials to staff and keepers who lost their lives at the park in accidents through the years. There’s aren’t many but the memorials stood out as Howletts don’t hide from the accidents, they acknowledge them and take the opportunity to remember the staff involved indefinitely.

A Day at Howletts Wildlife Park
A Day at Howletts Wildlife Park
A Day at Howletts Wildlife Park

We had a rest stop outside the Pavillion Restaurant where there’s a fantastic play area. The children played and we enjoyed hot drinks before having lunch and exploring the rest of the park.

A Day at Howletts Wildlife Park
A Day at Howletts Wildlife Park

The children loved the Animals of the Ice Age walkthrough, with huge dinosaur sculptures spread through the area, with real animal enclosures in between.

There were dinosaurs followed by wolves, followed by more dinosaurs and gibbons, more dinosaurs and clouded leopards. It definitely made for a different zoo experience!

A Day at Howletts Wildlife Park
A Day at Howletts Wildlife Park
A Day at Howletts Wildlife Park

The last part of our day was spent talking to the elephants. They have a fantastic enclosure with raised seating so you can sit and watch the elephants. When we visited there was a smaller, baby elephant who the children absolutely loved.

A Day at Howletts Wildlife Park

Before heading home we saw the lions, lemurs and more clouded leopards. It was a day full of animals and fresh air and one we really enjoyed.

You can find out more about Howletts over on their website and for reference the address is: Bekesbourne Lane, Bekesbourne, Littlebourne, Canterbury, Kent CT4 5EL

A Day at Howletts Wildlife Park

Author

  • Donna Wishart

    Donna Wishart is married to Dave and they have two children, Athena (12) and Troy (11). They live in Surrey with their two cats, Fred and George. Once a Bank Manager, Donna has been writing about everything from family finance to days out, travel and her favourite recipes since 2012. Donna is happiest either exploring somewhere new, with her camera in her hand and family by her side or snuggled up with a cat on her lap, reading a book and enjoying a nice cup of tea. She firmly believes that tea and cake can fix most things.

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