Friday, 4 August 2017

Hamerton Zoo Park #review

Opening the curtains my heart sank a little. We had planned a trip to Hamerton Zoo Park near Sawtry in Cambridgeshire, I'd packed a picnic and we were looking forward to meeting all of the animals. But it was raining.

I needn't have worried.

Arriving at Hamerton Zoo Park after an easy drive (thanks to lots of convenient dual carriageways from our home in Hertfordshire, just north of London) we discovered that Hamerton Zoo Park is extremely well prepared for all extremes of weather with lots of covered walkways across 20 acres and one of the nicest and largest covered picnic areas I have ever seen at a British attraction.

Hamerton Zoo Park

 We were given a handy guide to the park but to be honest, we didn't refer to it often, preferring to wind our way round the leafy pathways discovering the inhabitants as we went.

We kept hearing a loud hooting noise which we guessed was coming from some sort of monkey so we were quite surprised to find it emanating from a bird- a Great Argus Pheasant to be precise. This tickled my son no end!

The children were highly amused by a giant tortoise we nicknamed "speedy" as he made swift progress across his enclosure only pausing occasionally to munch grass and

Giant Tortoise Hamerton Zoo Park


I loved the lemurs and primates most of whom seemed very pleased to see us and obligingly posed for photographs. A few of the park's residents were more camera shy but we appreciated that although the park is quite small the animals and birds all have somewhere to retreat to.

Hamerton Zoo Park

Some of those areas are viewable through peek holes and windows and we certainly felt like there was quite a good balance between giving the animals jidey-holes often with indoor and outdoor options, and the human visitors the opportunity to see them.

The park actually has the following statement on its website to reassure those who have reservations about visiting animal parks: Please note that no animal at Hamerton Zoo Park is shut in or out, against its will and forced to exhibit itself - as some bad Zoos are still allowed to do, even here in the UK. The welfare of our animals is always our first priority, and under normal circumstances all have the freedom to come and go as they like. None are brought in as seasonal temporary attractions and all live here year round. So - it is always possible that any individual animal might not be visible the first time you look. As a result of these highest possible standards of animal welfare, our results with rare and unusual species are second to none. We also reserve the right as always to confine any animal for its own welfare, if circumstances arise which are beyond our control.

Good to know.

Owl at Hamerton Zoo Park

My owl-mad daughter was delighted to be able to see a few varieties of her favourite bird but the stars of the show for all of us were the super-cute meerkats who I reckon were show stoppers even before their profile was raised by Aleksandr or Sergei.

Three meerkat babies seemed to follow my youngest son whichever side of their habitat he stood - one event ran over to peer at him through a low viewing window. It took a while for us to realise they were fascinated by his frog umbrella!

meerkats at Hamerton Zoo Park

We stopped for a picnic lunch. There is a cafe next to the picnic area offering drinks, snacks and light lunches including jacket potatoes, pizza, sandwiches, hot dogs, paninis and burgers. I thought prices were reasonable for a tourist attraction with pizza costing £3, paninis at £4.50 and jacket potatoes starting at £3 with the option to add toppings at 60p each. (prices correct July 2017).

picnic lunch at Hamerton Zoo Park

The children then dragged me into the play area - they liked the floor maze and the zip wire and all of them conquered the pyramid climbing frame in the area for older children. I had to work hard to persuade them to leave the playground to see more animals. There is a separate area alongside the bigger playground for babies and toddlers with more age appropriate play equipment.

Pay Area at Hamerton Zoo Park

We saw camels, sheep and goats in the stroll-a-safari, then moved on to look at tigers, gibbons, a cheetah and a maned wolf which we decided looked part fox, part shetland pony!

Maned Wolf at Hamerton Zoo Parkcamels at Hamerton Zoo Park

We spotted The Express Railroad train which will take you round part of the park for £2 per person. It apparently will be in service during weekends and everyday in school holidays from Easter until October half term. Despite the on-off drizzle the train was running while were were there.

At the end of our visit we popped into the gift shop where we found some lovely keepsakes to suit all budgets.

Hamerton Zoo Park

Hamerton Zoo Park is open everyday except Christmas Day and Boxing Day and tickets can be purchased on the gate or you can order them to be sent in the post from the online shop which is handy if you want to buy some as a gift. Admission costs £13.99 for adults, £8.99 for children aged 3-12 incisive and children under three get in FREE.

There are discounts for older people, disabled guests and carers - proof must be shown- and there are vouchers for 10% and 20% off admission on the website at the moment.

We spent around four hours at the park when it was cold and rainy. On a nicer day when you might linger longer over lunch and around the enclosures and spend longer on the playground and in the safari area you could probably make a day of it.

The park is possibly suited best to pre-teens. I took children aged 8, 11 and 12 and they thoroughly enjoyed their visit. I think my 16 year old daughter would have enjoyed it as she loves animals but she was not with us on this occasion.



Hamerton Zoo Park sign





Disclaimer: We visited Hamerton Zoo Park free for the purpose of this honest review.


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