Howletts Wild Animal Park
|Location||Bekesbourne/Canterbury, Kent, England|
|Land area||90 acres (36 ha)|
|Number of animals||450+|
|Number of species||44|
Howletts Wild Animal Park (formerly known as Howletts Zoo) was set up as a private zoo in 1957 by John Aspinall near Canterbury, Kent. The animal collection was opened to the public in 1975. To give more room for the animals another estate at Port Lympne near Hythe, Kent was purchased in 1973, and opened to the public as Port Lympne Zoo in 1976.
The collection is known for being unorthodox, for the encouragement of close personal relationships between staff and animals, and for their breeding of rare and endangered species. Steve Irwin visited the park in 2004 and described the park's gorillas as "the finest in the world".
Since 1984 both parks have been owned by The John Aspinall Foundation, a charity. Following Aspinall's death of he was buried in front of the mansion house and a memorial was built next to the grave near the bison. A later extension to Howletts was an open-topped enclosure for black and white colobus, just behind the entrance.
The park is most famous for having some of the largest family groups of western lowland gorillas in the world. It is also home to the largest breeding herd of African elephants in the United Kingdom and has one of the largest breeding groups of lion-tailed macaques in the world.
The charity that runs Howletts and Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, the John Aspinall Foundation, also runs animal conservation programmes. It has recent success in releasing a black rhino into the wild and has previously released other black rhinos and gorillas.
Port Lympne has featured on the CBBC television programme Roar. This shows the two parks, the life of the animals and how the keepers look after them. The first series was filmed in 2006 and, as of March 2009, there have been four series in total.
- Sehlinger, Bob (2011). The Unofficial Guide to Britain's Best Days Out, Theme Parks and Attractions. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9781119971139.
- Crocodile Hunter News - http://www.crocodilehunter.com.au/crocodile_hunter/news_articles/2004/flyingvisit.html
- Zoo website
- Aspinall Foundation
- "Captive-bred kitten" (Video). BBC. 2008-09-10. Retrieved 2010-01-05. of Pallas' cat
- Roar (UK TV series) at the Internet Movie Database