Christmas and New Year were over and there were still another two days to fill before the grandsons went back to school. Where shall we go? Grandma’s not been to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park and the weather forecast was for sun.
The grandson’s love visiting and I was equally as impressed. It makes an excellent day out with lots of different animals to see – everything from anteaters to zebras. There are plenty of play areas to keep the kids happy and don’t forget your camera and binoculars. The park is so large that even on busy days it never seems crowded. There are also lots of seats and picnic tables around to rest weary limbs.
The park is on the edge of Doncaster, just off the M18. It is a huge site with plenty of space for the animals to roam freely. Gone are the days of animals caged in small concrete cages. It opened in 2010 with 13 lions rescued from a Romanian zoo which was unable to care for them. Now have 3 prides of lions, each with their own huge enclosure with dens carefully positioned to catch the sun. Since then the park has grown out of all recognition as more and more animals arrived. The latest acquisition are endangered Black Rhinos which arrived last year and are still settling in, so may not be visible.
As well as traditional favourites like tigers, camels, giraffes, baboons and wallabies, the wildlife park has a range of more unusual animals including painted dogs, squirrel moneys with their bright yellow feet, armadillos, capybara, and polar bears in what is descried as the largest polar bear reserves in the world.
They also have two very rare Amur Leopards from SE Russia/NE China, who had two cubs in 2015. Only 25-35 animals are thought to survive in the wild.
The website describes the park as “The UK’s Number 1 Walk through Wildlife Adventure”. Well made gravel paths meander through the different areas of the park giving close views of many of the inhabitants. Although many need to be kept separate from visitors and viewed from behind fencing, it is possible to wander through the wallaby area and lemur forest, although you are asked to keep to the paths. It really is possible to get close up and personal with the animals, especially when they are being fed. The lemurs are normally seen at a distance in the tops of the fir trees in their enclosure. When the keeper arrives with the food they swing down and along the ropes and net bridges for it.
I loved the baboons with their babies and brightly coloured bottoms who were sitting grooming each other.
The painted dogs (African wild dogs) really do look as if they have been painted with their different coloured patches of fur. These were roaming free among the trees in their enclosure with seven puppies, being kept in order by Mum.
There is a high level viewing platform for the leopards as well as a high level walkway for the tigers. Again the animals were roaming freely among the trees and the tigers enclosure had a small waterfall and plunge pool as they love swimming.
The polar bear enclosure is impressive with four different enclosures. These have been landscaped to reflect the summer Arctic tundra, with rocky dens for shelter and large pools for swimming. An information panel lists the bear’s menu which includes 45kg of beef, as well as small portions of oily fish, apples, melons and carrots.
The giraffe house is open (and can smell in hot weather) and the giraffes wander in and out freely. Seen this close to makes you realise just how tall they are.
The Armadillo scuttled in and out of its enclosure although the giant anteaters were curled up fast asleep. The merkats looked as if they were practising for their latest advert.
There are toilets around the site as well as places to eat and buy drinks. The outside children’s play areas have a range of different activities for different ages. The grandson’s love the basket swing as well as the zip wire. The indoor play area is also a hit, although I left them to enjoy this under the supervision of mum and dad and sat outside enjoying the sunshine.
The park is open everyday except Christmas Day and Boxing Day. There are ranger talks during the day and information panels around the park. As well as being fun this also has a serious purpose in educating as well as conserving rare wildlife. The Safari Village at the entrance of the park has a large gift shop (lots of cuddly toys) as well as a “cafe.”:http://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/review/restaurant/169035-review-safari-cafe For those wanting to avoid the shop, you can escape it by taking the path round the outside.
There is a slight reduction for tickets bought on line. There is also an annual pass which is very good value if planning several visits during the year. At first sight the entry fee does seem expensive but having visited and seen the work being done this begins to look like very good value. Also I dread to think what the food bill must be…
This has been thought out as carefully as the animal enclosures.
There are disabled parking bays and there is a drop off point outside the main entrance. Paths round the park are gravel and are suitable for wheelchairs. There are no steep gradients. The park has wheelchairs which can be borrowed free of charge. All buildings are accessible for wheelchairs. There are several disabled toilets around the site.
Assistance dogs are allowed around the site but not in the animal walk through areas.
There is a reduction for disabled visitors and also carers.