Howletts Wild Animal Park, Kent – a Review with Hints and Tips

We were given tickets free of charge in exchange for our honest review

Howletts Wild Animal Park, Canterbury, Kent, is an easy hour drive away from Sevenoaks

We went on the last Friday of the Summer holiday and expected it to be very busy but it wasn’t the case at all. Or at least it didn’t feel busy.

We followed our sat nav with no problems and arrived at Howlett’s Wild Animal Park at 11am. The car park was starting to fill up but was by no means heaving (when we left that evening the overflow car park was in use though so clearly plenty more people came after us).

There was a very short queue at the entrance. The staff were all very friendly and we were given maps and told us the feeding times (we’d missed all but one!) and shown where to find information on the various talks held throughout the day.

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Big L with the Map

Howletts Wild Animal Park is set in 90 acres of ancient parkland

It is a full day out, take your time to enjoy it all. We spent a very happy 6 or so hours, and I am pleased to say it is not a difficult walk. There is one, manageable, hill and it is all pushchair and buggy friendly.

On arrival at Howletts Wild Animal Park you go through a shop selling toys and gifts

My tip is drag the kids away as you also leave through the same shop! We told our two that they could each choose one toy on the way out. Little L, who is 3, insisted all the way round the park that he wanted an elephant, we left with a shark!

There is also a larger shop within the park itself selling other souvenirs including some lovely windchimes – yes, I suspect my neighbours hate me!

There are toilets as you enter the park, including a disabled loo with baby changing facilities. I always get everyone to go here but never fear there are plenty of toilets dotted around the park, in fact they are never too far away which is nice – especially if you are like me! 

Food and drink at Howletts Wild Animal Park

We took a picnic with us as there are plenty of areas with picnic tables to sit at or grassy areas to pop a blanket. There are a couple of coffee shops selling drinks and cakes, as well as the Pavillion Restaurant with the usual jacket potatoes and so on and daily specials.

In season there are ice cream huts selling ice creams, drinks and slushies. My top tip for the slushy lover is to buy the £4 slushy that you can refill throughout the day for £2.50 (you can always take the bottle back with you next time and get your refills for £2.50).

Food and drink isn’t extortionate despite being a captive audience (yes, that is a pun). A cappuccino at the hut near to the playground at £2.50, ice creams ranged from about a pound for a mini milk to £3.50 for two scoops of rather lovely ice cream!

Animals of the Ice Age at Howletts Wild Animal Park 

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One of the Animals of the Ice Age

There is a fab addition to the live animals at Howletts in the, very large, shape of Animals of the Ice Age. These are life-sized models of the huge, scary creatures that once roamed the earth. Little L absolutely loved these!

Like most toddlers Little L is fascinated by dinosaurs and the like, and can name more than I can! He was thrilled by the huge, looming figures on display among the animals.

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Another of the Animals of the Ice Age – Big L thought this one was fab!

Play areas at Howletts Wild Animal Park

There are a couple of areas where kids can let off steam at Howletts. A traditional play area with wooden climbing frames and so on which kept our two amused while I had my cappuccino. There is also Treetop Challenge which is a high ropes course. You have to be over 1.2 meters tall to tackle this. I have to admit this does not appeal to me but there were plenty of people having a whale of a time on it. There was an extra fee of £7.00 for this.

Animals at The Aspinall Foundation, Howletts Wild Animal Park 

Of course the main reason you go to Howletts Wild Animal Park is to see the animals. In fact Howletts is home to more than 400 animals!

As an animal lover myself I am always concerned about welfare of the animals but at Howletts you can be rest assured that the animals are well cared for. In fact it is clear that the welfare of the animals is their main priority. The animals have plenty of places to hide from people so don’t be disappointed if you can’t see every animal. Another thing to remember is you have to look really hard for some of them – they are well camouflaged!

You can find all manner of animals at Howletts from lions and tigers of different species, primates large and small – lemurs to gorillas, giant anteaters, elephants, rhinos and plenty in between.

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This amazing elephant watched us for some time

There is a breeding programme at Howletts too so if you are lucky you might see a baby! We went a few years ago just days after an elephant was born and it came out to see us – it was a very special moment!

Elephants are Little L’s favourite so he was delighted to see them in the flesh. It was his first time and he was very excited to see a little elephant trotting about after its mum.

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Elephants on parade

I love the primates myself. I especially enjoy watching the family groups – probably because they are so relatable! The Walking with Lemurs experience (which is included in the entrance fee) is lovely, you are able to see them up close and personal.

Conservation at Howletts Wild Animal Park

Howletts is not a zoo in the traditional sense (I am pleased to say), its main purpose is conservation, breeding and reintroduction of rare animals. The Aspinall Foundation are well known for their hands on work with the animals and it certainly shows around the park. 

It is lovely to think that your entrance fee in some way helps endangered species.

If a day out just isn’t enough Howletts Wild Animal Park offers all sorts of experiences

For an extra charge you can choose to be a ranger or keeper for a day or half a day. Book an animal encounter or guided tour or even spend a day with their resident photographer, David Rolfe. David will teach you what he has learnt over his 30 years photographing wildlife – what a treat! If anyone reads this I would LOVE to do this…when I finally get a decent camera! 

What did we think of our day at Howletts Wild Animal Park?

We loved it! Thoroughly enjoyed it. The only thing I would do differently is get there earlier next time to catch feeding time and perhaps attend a couple of the talks – but with a toddler that wasn’t going to happen!

I asked Big L, who is 8, what he thought and he said

It’s a good family day out. There is something for all the family. I didn’t get bored. I really enjoyed seeing all the animals and the play area

Not getting bored is a huge bonus for Big L – and us!

How much is entrance to Howletts Wild Animal Park?

Adult day prices £22.95

Children aged 3 to 15 years £19.95 

Family day ticket (two adults and two children) £74.00

Tickets booked online are 20% cheaper

From September 1st to September 30th 2019 kids go free – 1 free child ticket per full paying adult (see the website here for details and to complete the relevant voucher) 

For more days out in Sevenoaks, Kent and the surrounding areas visit my Travel and Days Out here

 

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