Animal attractions house a certain charm that makes them a regular hotspot for families in particular, offering those visiting plenty to see and do. Amy Moore takes us through some of the top destinations recommended by the general public.

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Marwell Wildlife charity demonstrates strict dedication to conservation

Marwell Zoo is just one example of a leading charitable destination, demonstrating strict dedication to conservation through ‘Marwell Wildlife.’ Spanning 150 acres of sublime woodland scenery, it is suggested an average day at the site takes around four or five hours to complete. Alternative modes of transport are suitable for those with young children, including free embarkation on the ‘Road Train’ with lollipop themed carousel. Leading the way is a tractor to reinforce the more upmarket farm like setting. The ‘Rail Train’ is also a somewhat memorable feature with an antique exterior derivative of the archaic steam engine. A guidebook is available to purchase, further inviting the opportunity to educate and entertain, with an interactive map that can be downloaded for use around the site. ‘Marwell Hall’ is a particular hotspot for anyone visiting. The grade one listed building is patterned with lime green ivy dependent on the season, with its growing popularity as a specialised pre booked event attraction. The ‘Formal Gardens’ are located behind the hall, providing the ideal opportunity to soak in the surroundings.

T: Those looking to book a group event at ‘Marwell Hall’ should contact the designated events team on 01962 777966 or for general enquiries call 01962 777407

E: marwell@marwell.org.uk

W: www.marwell.org.uk

The conservation theme of ‘endangerment’ should be considered in relation to Port Lympne in Kent, with a distinguished focus on the care of wild animals and the successful breeding of rare species to pave the way for a more secure and sustainable future. Such a destination may seem a little underrated, though arguably it stands as one of the largest animal parks in the UK, combined with the acclaimed ‘Aspinall Foundation’ to further promote conservation. The charity itself has a solid reputation of providing sufficient funding for specialised animal projects in particular; continuing its work on a more international scale. They have recently celebrated their 30 year anniversary at the centre. Having been awarded the ‘Kent Excellence in Business Award’ two years running, the 600 acre landscape is recognised as one of excellence, boasting a rich itinerary for groups throughout the year. Parking is free for coaches with designated spaces to accommodate larger vehicles. Safari trucks touring the area provide adequate disabled access. A whopping 20% off online bookings are applicable to single and fam visits only, with the venue boasting easy access by bus, rail and road.

T: 0844 842 4647

E: info@aspinallfoundation.org

W: www.aspinallfoundation.org

For groups considering a fun day out, The National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham provides a fantastically themed attraction; offering a definitive insight into an abundance of sea life. The aquarium transports visitors to an amazing underwater world, with an opportunity to view aquatic animals from all over the planet, including the all new ‘Penguin Ice Adventure.’ The Antarctic themed enclosure is home to a colony of 12 Gentoo penguins, originating from New Zealand. Multiple viewing platforms welcome an all-round view of the confine, with an indoor temperature of eight degrees to ensure visitors have a truly authentic experience. Designated areas are also on hand for guests who fancy getting stuck in with their best imitations of the mammal. The venue houses over 2,000 creatures, including the UK’s only hammerhead shark, as well as a giant green sea turtle rescued from the wild. Reduced rates are available for tickets booked in advance.

T: 01527 579 555

E: michellesimpson@gough.co.uk

W: www.sealife.co.uk/birmingham

A uniquely interactive experience provides hands on fun for groups at South Lakes Safari Zoo in Cumbria; the ideal destination for those with a vested interest in nature and conservation. Those visiting could choose to immerse themselves in a fun filled day hand feeding the statuesque giraffes and wander amongst copious amounts of skipping kangaroos and other animals. Some might even be lucky enough to spot the free flying macaws which graciously soar overhead. Pre booked parties can enjoy admission into ‘The Maki Restaurant,’ serving hot and cold cuisine and providing adequate picnic areas to perch. A treetop style decking area invites voyeuristic views that span across the centre, overlooking the free roaming rhinos and baboons below. Looking for something a little more exhilarating? Why not visit ‘Wolf Peak,’ home to a pack of six artic wolves; the latest arrivals steeped in local heritage. Groups are warmly welcomed with special discounted rates.

T: 01229 466086

E: For general enquiries email enquiries@wildanimalpark.co.uk or alternatively office@wildanimalpark.co.uk for more considerable matters

W: www.southlakessafarizoo.com

Having been awarded a ‘Certificate of Excellence’ in 2012 with an overall ranking of 4.5 on TripAdvisor, Monkey World does well to target groups by offering personal guided tours, hosted by specially trained educational officers at the site. Running a little over an hour, each tour is scheduled on a rotary basis of up to three times a day, alternating throughout the year, with a maximum group of 15 people attending unless discussed prior. Group entrance tickets are also available to purchase, with validity of up to a year. The venue is open all year round, with Bank holidays in particular inviting the opportunity for guests to get stuck in, as the site plays host to a ‘Banana Bonanza;’ an event ideal for groups and families alike. The attraction itself is titled as an ape rescue centre, currently housing over 240 rescued and endangered primates and rejecting the ideal of illegally obtaining the animals for personal gain. Filmed on location is the niche documentary series ‘Monkey Life,’ created in 2006 and currently on its eigth series. Useful information regarding local hotels and B&B’s is available via the attractions website for those who perhaps desire a longer stay.

T: 01929 401003. To enquire about a group entrance ticket, contact the administration office on 01929 462537

W: www.monkeyworld.org

The privately owned estate of Colchester Zoo in Essex sets apart over 270 well preserved species, spanning 60 acres of sublime parkland scenery. First opened in June 1963, the venue underwent an additional 20 acre plot expansion in the 1990’s and has since celebrated its 50th birthday. A collaboration with the ‘Action for the Wild’ charity meant it achieved charitable status in 2004; better demonstrated through its personal project entitled the ‘UmPhafa Private Reserve’ based in South Africa. Here, specific attention is drawn towards the staff’s dedication towards conservation. Those visiting are bound to be spoilt for choice, as the attraction offers a deluxe choice of a number of catering outlets. The site itself is reliant on the benefits from each, with further details on how to donate available online. Groups keen to save money are recommended to book at least 48 hours in advance, eligible only for parties of 15 people or more. Perks include free coach parking upon arrival and an offer of a free day out for the designated driver amongst others.

T: 01206 331292

E: enquiries@colchesterzoo.org

W: www.colchester-zoo.com

Set amidst 80 acres of lavishly enriching countryside, Knockhatch Adventure Park fits the group trip criteria perfectly, with a mantra detailing “fun for all the family, whatever the weather.” A destination recommended by GTW to boost any itinerary, it entices those adventurous enough to attend. State of the art attractions are included in the price of entry, such a bouncing bungee trampoline, a boating lake for the more relaxed or go-karting for the downmarket adrenaline junkie. The ‘Falconry Centre’ is no doubt a highlight for anyone visiting, in affiliation with the ‘Hawk Walk,’ offering an exclusive meet and greet at an affordable price. Scheduled talks are provided by the animal handlers for school trips specifically, with an added opportunity to handle some of the smaller animals. Exceeding popular during term time, special rates apply to educational groups, with a separate 25% discount for parties of 16 or more. A rural campsite welcomes an overnight stay amidst the rural setting of the East Sussex Downs, inclusive of a two for one entry voucher. Feeling peckish? The ‘Froggie’s Café’ is open all year round, serving the likes of fish finger meals for the kids. In warmer weather, why not tuck in at a meaty burger bar? Or perhaps cool off with a pasty from ‘The Mineshaft Café.

T: 01323 442051

E: info@knockhatch.com

W: www.knockhatch.com

 

ZOO REVIEW: WOBURN SAFARI PARK

By Harley Denham

T: 01525 290407

E: groups@woburnsafari.co.uk

When visiting Woburn Safari Park groups are offered a fantastic experience and rates. Groups of 15 or more will be allocated discounted entry when traveling in the same vehicle. The group organiser will be given free entry on the day of arrival but also a free pre visit. Parking is also free for coaches and minibuses. Your group can explore the foot safari where they will find a range of restaurants. Groups can also visit the sea lion house ‘Sea Lion Cove’ for a unique live animal demonstration combined with a 3D cinema experience. A variety of keeper talks and demonstrations can be found in the performance areas where you can learn how the animals are cared for at Woburn. You can also find leisure actives such as the Great Woburn Railway, indoor play areas and GO Ape (available at additional cost) The road Safari takes visitors up close and personal with the animals that live at Woburn Safari Park. On the first road circuit you will be initially greeted by ostriches, white rhinos, antelope and buffalo. The second circuit, secured by electric gates allows visitors to see tigers, antelopes and a pack of lions which can usually be found under the tree. Also living together are a few wolves and American black blears. The third and final circuit holds the most amusing animals at Woburn. The friendly monkeys can be seen hanging and swinging from ropes, playing and approaching vehicles. Giraffes, zebras and many more animas including several new arrivals this spring are homed to Woburn Safari Park where you and your group will enjoy a fantastic visit!