South Lakes Wild Animal Park

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Joy S on May 9, 2012

We spent the day at this wonderful place on a damp British Bank Holiday Monday. Despite the inclement weather, we had the most wonderful time and would thoroughly recommend a visit.

The park is open daily between 10:00am and 5:00pm. We arrived just after midday and left at 4:00pm. We actually left because we were cold and wet, had the weather been better, we would have stayed until the park closed. It is about 20 minutes from Lake Windermere in the beautiful Lake District and is quite easy to find. The entrance cost is £13.50 for adults and £8.00 for children.

The park was established by a man who was formerly an animal nutritionist, interested in conservation. He built the whole thing up to what it is today, and apparently still designs and builds the facilities himself.

The whole place has a lovely atmosphere. Everything is made of wood, and there is a real emphasis on being eco-friendly, with lots of recycling bins throughout.

It is called a wild animal park - this is just what it is. It is not at all like a zoo or any of the safari parks we had been to before. There are wild animals of all types - from lions to lemurs, from kangaroos to hippos. The dangerous animals are obviously in their enclosures (roomy, spacious and well-kept), but the other animals such as the lemurs, kangaroos, emus and more are wandering around freely. It is a bit disconcerting at first, when a lemur darts around in front of you, but you get used to it and it is wonderful.

There are a series of talks throughout the day - every half an hour, where they tell you about a different animal and you get to join in feeding sessions with some of them. We first saw the snake talk - a girl with a huge snake draped around her neck told us lots of information about reptiles, and at the end you could stroke the snake. The sessions are all very child-friendly and our 8 year old was engrossed.

We also heard the talk about the lemurs - there is a real emphasis on conservation here too, and they tell you about the many conservation projects the park has an involvement with, in the countries these animals originate. If you pay £1.00 (it goes to the conservation project), you got to feed a lemur some grapes - this was such fun!

As well as the lemur feeding, for £1.00 each time, we also got to feed some giraffes with leaves and penguins with fish. It was all very educational but also such a lot of fun.

There is a lovely gift shop, instead of the usual tacky souvenirs you get in these places, there were lots of interesting and unusual things hand-made by people living near the conservation projects. We had coffee in the Makki restaurant. The food looked good, but we had brought our own picnic (they have a picnic area too), so just had coffee to warm up. It is lovely - it has the feel of an African lodge, with large glass windows looking out to the mountains beyond. There is also a "tree-tops" style decking area, where apparently, you can watch giraffes, rhinos and babboons wander freely below. None of these animals were daft enough to be out in this area during our visit, it was far too cold, but this would be wonderful to see on a better day.

The park is on a hill, so it undulates a bit, but the hills are not steep. There are raised walkways, where you see into some of the enclosures from on-high - the bears and big cats for example.

At the end of the day, there is the big cat feeding session. They told us a lot about tigers and jaguars, then let these wonderful animals out to get their food. There were dead chickens attached to the top of some poles, we looked on in wonder as they scaled the poles and got their "prey". Standing on the walkway, watching, it was probably as close as you could ever get to this.

This is a wonderful place. The ethos behind it, all their conservation projects and how they educate children and adults alike about the animals and what we can do to help save them, is marvellous. The feeding sessions also make it an unforgettable experience. If you get the chance to come here - do!
South Lakes Wild Animal Park
Broughton Road - Dalton in Furness
Cumbria, LA15 8JR
+44 1229 466086

© LP 2000-2009