Howletts – The Aspinall Wild Animal Park

You might have seen on twitter over Easter that Mr ventured off for a weekend of Mountain Climbing in an attempt to complete the three peaks challenge. Faced with the prospect of spending Easter on my Lonesome, I had planned things to keep me busy over most of the Easter Weekend – a shopping trip with my sister on Friday, work followed by a girly evening to celebrate my Best Friend’s birthday on Saturday and a day of training for the upcoming Dirty Dozen race and catching up on some work on Sunday. I’d left Monday clear as we weren’t sure what time Sean would be home.

It turned out that due to 70mph winds, torrential downpours and mini cyclones their trip was cut short so Sean was home late Saturday night. Woohoo! Understandably, after 27 hours of driving and climbing the highest mountain in the UK, he was inclined to have a chilled out day on Sunday. We watched a few movies on Amazon Prime, had roast Lamb and then watched a few more.

On Monday we woke up quite early and decided to head out for the day. I have been wanting to go to the zoo for aaaages, and so when he suggested we head to Howletts Animal Park in Canterbury, I was SO excited!

It took no longer than 40 minutes for us to get there, and Sean did pretty well at putting up with my excitable chanting of “We’re going to the zoo! We’re going to the zoo! We’re going to the zoo!”. True love right there.

Upon arrival we were checked in at the desk and informed that by visiting the park, we were donating to the Aspinall Foundation – a charity that keeps both the Howletts & Port Lympne parks open and works to protect wild animals across the pond. We were also given a complimentary map and guide to the activities going on on the day.2016-03-28 14.17.39

We decided to just see where the day took us rather than tying ourselves down to any times and so just wandered around at our own pace.  Neither of us had been there since we were really young, and like anywhere, the park seemed a lot smaller than either of us remembered, the animals closer together than our memories served, the enclosures bigger. I guess that’s what you get when you haven’t been somewhere since you were 6! 

We arrived quite early on in the day, pretty much as soon as the park opened and so as we walked through, the initial few enclosures the Lions & Tigers were still sounds asleep and some of the monkeys were snoozing in their huts, but as the day went on the animals started to get over what we decided were their Bank Holiday Hangovers. Clearly they’d been at a Madagascar style party the night before… 

Howletts Elephant Kisses
Elephant Kisses

The highlight for me was definitely the elephants. There are thirteen African elephants at Howletts- the biggest group here in the UK and at the head of the Heard – Massa. The Matriarch and eldest Elephant to live at Howletts, she really is beautiful.  Howletts Elephants

The monkeys were great too and made a point of putting on a show to everyone who peered into their enclosure and there was the cutest family of Dusky Langurs with a teeny tiny baby who was being taught how to climb by his older brother. I could have climbed in and taken them home! Adorable. Howletts MonkeysHowletts Monkeys 2

Of course we couldn’t pass up the chance to visit the ever famous gorilla section of Howletts. There are two enclosures for Gorillas, one at each end of the park. One seemed to be home to the more energetic bunch who quite literally run around like crazy peeps. We arrived just in time for feeding time and it was hilarious to watch them all run around trying to collect as many carrots as they could possibly carry before another came along and got them. At one point, one of the seemingly younger gorillas had two in his mouth and both hands full! And another pair were rough and tumbling alla round their enclosure, up and down the vines & shoots and quite literally rolled down the slide like those comedy cartoon characters you used to watch as a kid. They really were very funny. Gorillas at HowlettsHowletts Gorillas

In the second, newer enclosure, it seemed the Gorillas were more used to having people like us gawp in at them and so they pranced around seemingly posing for photos and making us all laugh at their antics. One of them, the iconic silver back male everyone always talks about even grunted at a little girl after she called his name.

 We really did have the best day out at Howletts Zoo. I’m ready and waiting to slot a trip to Port Lympe in the diary to see the Giraffes next!

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