A Walk on the Wild Side in England
Dedicated to international conservation of biodiversity, and located in a picturesque, historic setting, Marwell Wildlife in Owslebury, Hampshire, offers a family outing that is both entertaining and educational. Covering a landscaped area of 140 acres, the park is home to more than 180 exotic species, many of which are listed as endangered or threatened in the wild. Visitors have the opportunity to get up close to some amazing animals, while at the same time contributing to the work being done to save them.
Be prepared to spend an entire day at Marwell Wildlife, with its three play areas for children to expend some of their boundless energy, and then refuel at Café Graze, or enjoy home-packed meals in the picnic area. A free road train runs throughout the day to transport visitors to the various themed areas and make sure that you don’t miss a thing. The African Valley is home to free-roaming waterbuck, ostriches, zebras and giraffe – which, by the way, only have seven vertebrae in their long necks, as is the case with most mammals. The inhabitants of the Australian Bush Walk include kookaburras and wallabies, while the Tropical World is a re-creation of a lush rainforest with its elusive creatures. Penguin World offers underwater views of these interesting birds, while the marvels of South East Asia are found in the Siamang Gibbons home.
The zoological park was opened in 1972 by its founder, John Knowles, and was one of the earliest zoos in Europe to participate in breeding and conservation projects, which it continues to do today. History enthusiasts will appreciate that it is located in the 13th century Marwell Hall Estate, which was originally owned by the Bishop of Winchester, and later by Sir Henry Seymour. It is rumoured that King Henry VIII courted Lady Jane Seymour at Marwell Estate and may even have married her there at a private ceremony before the public wedding took place.
With all types of creatures, from invertebrates such as the Goliath birdeating tarantula and Sri Lanka mantis, to reptiles such as the red-footed tortoise and Sahara spiny-tailed lizards, and from birds such as the ostrich and black-crowned night heron, to mammals such as the western grey kangaroo and the ring-tailed lemur, the diversity at Marwell Wildlife makes this attraction well worth visiting – plus there’s the feel-good factor of knowing that your financial support through your ticket purchase is used in conservation projects around the world.