Furry & Feathery Fun At Hamerton Zoo Park

Yesterday was a glorious day. The sun was shining and I had my four youngest children with me for a day trip to Hamerton Zoo Park near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire where there's over 100 animal species including my son's favourite meerkats.

Meerkat at Hamerton Zoo Park

Have you heard that song in Mamma Mia, "Slipping Through My Fingers"? With my youngest turning 11 this year and my eldest daughter heading to uni, these days out are precious and every time I hear that song it makes me well up. Watching them chatting and laughing at the zoo I was struck by how fast they grow up. It makes these times together even more special.

In the car journey to Hamerton Zoo Park which is set in gorgeous countryside we sang along to our family playlist and the children compared notes on teachers past and present.

Arriving after a slight hiccup when the stupid sat nav declared we had arrived at our destination when we clearly hadn't (we should have programmed the venue's postcode instead of relying on the "points of interest feature on TomTom) we parked easily. The carpark surface is a little rough but we managed to get across with a wheelchair and headed to the gate.

I noted how friendly the staff member on the gate was. It's not a brilliant job standing on the gate taking money and tickets is it, but the young woman there was dealing with it all with a smile and helpful attitude which really impressed me.

We soon immersed ourselves in the Hamerton Zoo experience exploring the nicely laid out park which has plenty of places to picnic (outside and under cover) and to just sit and rest awhile.

Spring blossom and giant tortoises at Hamerton Zoo Park

There seems to be quite a bit of construction work going on which looks like improvements being made to enclosures and visitor facilities. It didn't detract from our enjoyment at all.

It made me smile to see my children enjoying the park in their own way. My youngest went into raptures to express his admiration of the cuteness of the primates and marsupials and other furry things in an ever higher tone of voice while my daughters photographed, videoed and snap chatted their walk round the enclosures. My older boy enjoyed the creatures but was very keen to get to the impressive play area complete with zip-line.

Snapchat at Hamerton Zoo Park

As well as kindly giving us free admission to the park, we were also gifted tickets to ride the Tiger Train which runs during weekends and school holidays from Easter to October half term.

Riding the Tiger Train at Hamerton Zoo Park

The Tiger Train at Hamerton Zoo Park

It's worth taking the ride (£2 per person) for the soundtrack alone, plus you get a good overview of the part of the park where the big cats live. Their enclosures are large and because none of the animals at the attraction are ever shut outside for visitor's convenience, including the tigers, you aren't guaranteed to see them. We did however see a white Bengal tiger during our ride and spotted the orange and black ones when we were walking round the area after our ride.

The way the park is laid out means you start with smaller creatures and birds and end with the bigger animals like cheetahs and the tigers.

Kookaburra At Hamerton Zoo Park

Hamerton boasts the most successful breeding programme of the endangered cheetah ever. The owners have gone to impressive lengths to create an environment which suits the cheetah lifestyle creating "Cheetah Country" - seven large grassy paddocks with snugs and dens which are mostly away from public view. We did see them however relaxing in the largest paddock which visitors can see from one side.

We all loved the walk through "stroll-a-safari" where you can get up close to some domestic animals and even feed them. Don't forget your 20 pence pieces to buy food for the VERY friendly goats who sense when you've run out of  their special food and head to the next person near the food dispenser. This was a real highlight for us, being able to feed the goats. I was impressed to see lots of signs directing visitors to hand washing stations.

Feeding the goats at Hamerton Zoo Park Stroll-a-safari

After a picnic near the playground I relaxed in the sunshine while the children played. Even though the park was a lot busier than the last time we visited on a cold and rainy day, there was still plenty of space and pieces of equipment for everyone to play.

Playground at Hamerton Zoo Park

I did notice the cafe had quite a queue even this early in the season so I'd advise planning an early lunch if you want to buy food and drinks there, or take a picnic. I wonder if a kiosk selling just drinks and ice creams would be a good idea for busier periods?

Finally we had a look round the gift shop before heading home. There was a good range of pocket money priced gifts along with some nice souvenirs. so along with the reasonable admission prices this is not a day out to break the bank.

As I mentioned previously we've visited twice with very different weather on each day. The one thing which sets Hamerton Zoo Park above many other attractions of this type is the amount of covered areas meaning even on very hot or wet days you have quite a bit of shelter from the weather.

It's not a huge attraction but we still spent around four hours there. We could have made a complete day of it I reckon, especially if we'd gone along to more of the animal talks. Pathways are very pushchair/wheelchair friendly and the toilets were clean if a little dated. There was a pull-down baby change station in the disabled toilet we used.

All in all, well worth a visit, especially if you are in  Cambridgeshire or surrounding counties. The park is just 20 minutes from Peterborough, Oundle, Thrapston or Huntingdon. Book tickets online for a 10% discount.

Disclaimer: We received free entry and free Tiger Train tickets for the purpose of wiring this honest review. Views and opinions remain my own.

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