One of our Summer Bucket List activities to to visit the zoo so last week we decided to arrange an outing to Howletts Wild Animal Park in Canterbury. We have visited before and loved it. Its a bit of a drive from where we are but its worth the 1.5 hours in the car, as they are home to the largest African Elephant herd in the UK. The elephants they home have over 8 acres to play in yet we always manage to see them close up with is fantastic. Especially as they are one of Monkey’s favourites.

Howletts Elephants

As well as the elephants they have some other big draw animals which include three Black Rhinos, Gorillas, Tigers and Lions. Howletts is part of the Aspinal Foundation which is a registered charity and they are so much more than a zoo. They have been running successful conservation projects for over 30 years, helping to introduce animals bred within their parks back into the wild.

Howletts Rhino

With a remaining population thought to number less than 800 the eastern black rhino is critically endangered The Aspinall Foundation parks at Howletts and Port Lympne have the largest collection of black rhino in the world outside of Africa. 35 calves have been born here so far. Our aim through it to return them to the wild – where it is safe to do so

How amazing is that? It became very apparent to us all that we were introducing animals to our three year olds that really could be extinct in the wild completely by the time they have children of their own. Andy maybe in captivity as well. Thats quite a sad scary realisation.

Howletts TigersOne of such animals are the tigers. The park is home to a pair of Sumatran tigers which are extremely rare. They are hoping that they will produce a litter in the coming months. It was lovely to have such a clear view of one of them sitting in the afternoon sun. She has been know to come straight up to the perspex windows before to introduce herself. Slightly scary!

Howletts GorliiasFor some peaceful interaction (yes they were open to being talked to!) we headed next to the ‘old’ Gorilla enclosure. There are actually two areas within the park because they have been so successful. To date they have released 60 Gorllia’s back into the wild and had 25 births across the parks. We arrived at snack time and it was fascinating to watch the them getting nuts out of boxes with sticks poking them through the holes and pushing them along the different compartments. Monkey was mesmerised by it. You could get really close to them, there are signs up asking you to be quiet and respect the animals. There is also seating around the outside which affords you some reflection time if the kiddies will allow! I know the Gorillas particularly  touched one of the mummies I was with having never been so close before. I also struck up a conversation with one of the older Gorllia’s who was mildly interested in what I was doing!

Howletts LionsOther animals at the park include red river hogs, bongos, lemurs (walk through enclosure) african hunting dogs, lions, leopards, anteaters, servals, kudu, tapirs, macaques, gibbons, lynx, leopards and wolves. Even though the enclosures are large you never seem to struggle to see the animals regardless of the time of day you visit.

Howletts ElephantsAs well as the animals there is also a great play area with lots of picnic tables nearby. Its a great half way pit stop. There is also a snack bar selling burgers and hot dogs, as well as a sit down restaurant. The prices look reasonable, although we have always taken picnics with us.

There is a also a Tree Top Challenge for the older children with an additional cost of £7 per person, £12 for two. For the younger ones under 1.2m and aged between 2-5 years there is the Animal Adventure Challenge and costs £2.50. There was so much else to get up to that we didn’t try it out – maybe on another visit. While we were there the park was running an elephant week in the education centre, making elephant trunks out of recyclables.

Howletts Park Howletts Park

There were also free sticker books on entry which kept the kids entrained while they waited for the picnic. Buying on line in advance tickets cost £20.95 for over 16s and 3-16s are £16.95. The same price applies on the door. As we love it so much and have already visited three times in the last year I upgraded our tickets to a passport for an additional £10 each. This will give us unlimited entry for 12 months.

You can find out more about Howletts and the wonderful work of the Aspinall Foundation on their website –

Mudpie xx


  1. Oh what great photos, you really got up close with those lovely zoo critters. Our recent trip to the zoo saw a bunch of animals as far away in their habitats as possible heh.

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  3. Fi Ní Neachtáin Reply

    Who doesn’t love a trip to the zoo?! 🙂 You captured some great images of the animals there. The sticker books are a great idea for keeping kids occupied whilst going around the park 🙂

    • Such a great idea, I do like places that provide passports or sticker books for them to collect different stamps or similar as it helps keep them motivated! Xx

  4. Oh wow, I love the photos of the elephants. How amazing to see them so up close. Love the photo of the baby elephant with its mummy. Looks like a great place to visit. x

  5. Becky, Cuddle Fairy Reply

    You find the best places to go & they are always so reasonable. That’s great value to get a 12 mo pass for just £10 more each. It’s so sad about the rhinos & it’s an awful thought that these animals won’t exist in the wild anymore. It’s great they are releasing the gorilla’s back into the wild but it’s such a dangerous place for them to be x

    • I was very impressed with the conservation element and it’s a steal price wise! We have already been back once xx

  6. This looks such a great place to go – we have friends nearby and my daughter adores animals, so I think we might need to add it to the list. It’s a sobering thought that this might be the only place to see some of the rarer ones before too long as well.

  7. What a great trip out, I don’t think I’ve ever seen gorillas that close. My little boy loves Tigers but its really sad to think they might become extinct as well as other animals.

  8. To see rare tigers in the flesh is both frightening and awe-inspiring at the same time. Looks like the children have fun!

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