Port Lympne Wild Animal Park

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Port Lympne Reserve
Date opened1976
LocationLympne, Kent, England (South Kent)
Land area600 acres (240 ha)
No. of animals650+
No. of species50+

Port Lympne Reserve near the town of Hythe in Kent, England is set in 600 acres (2.4 km2) and incorporates the historic mansion and landscaped gardens designed by architect Sir Herbert Baker for Sir Philip Sassoon during World War I.

The estate near Lympne was purchased in 1973 by John Aspinall to solve lack of space at Howletts Wild Animal Park, and it was opened to the public in 1976. Since 1984 the animal park has been owned by a charity (The John Aspinall Foundation). 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.

Royalty and many other famous people have stayed at the mansion at the centre of the park. The rooms are lavishly decorated and the landscaped gardens have views of Romney Marsh.

Animal collection[edit]

Gorilla at Port Lympne Reserve

Port Lympne houses many rare and endangered species and the largest breeding herd of black rhinoceros in the UK. As well as Siberian tigers, there are small cats, monkeys, Malayan tapirs, Barbary lions, African hunting dogs and many more, some of which are on the circular walk. There is also an open enclosure near some of the rhinos and colobus monkeys, and the zoo has an 'African Experience' safari trail where visitors are transported on specially modified vehicles around the park to view rhinoceros, giraffe, zebra, deer and wildebeest.

In 2000, a 27-year-old keeper was killed whilst working in the stall of a female Indian elephant called La Petite.[1]

The zoo has recently[when?] moved its herd of Asian elephants following numerous deaths amongst them related to a persistent outbreak of a strain of herpes virus found in captive elephant populations. In 2005, after many years of stillbirths, two infant mortalities, and several premature adult fatalities, the first surviving mother-reared calf, Sittang, succumbed to the virus. This incident occurred one month after an adult female produced a stillborn calf and also perished. Port Lympne's remaining calf, May Tagu, who was born in April 2005, was transferred to Antwerp Zoo following the spate of deaths, along with her mother and one other cow. The remaining adults were moved to Terra Natura in Benidorm, Spain, where many other former Port Lympne elephants reside. This move has allowed the park to focus on its breeding African elephants. Three cows have been moved from Howletts Wild Animal Park, followed soon after by a bull named Kruger from Knowsley Safari Park. Howletts is home to the UK's largest herd of African elephants, which currently numbers at 12.

Animal Enclosures[edit]

Palace of the Apes[edit]

Gorilla at Palace of the Apes

Palace of the Apes is the world's largest gorillarium and home to a large breeding family group of Western lowland gorillas.

African Experience[edit]

The African Experience is approximately 100 acres in size and home to a wide variety of animals, including:

Asian experience[edit]

Smaller than the African experience this is home to a wide variety of Asian animals, including:


South American experience[edit]

The smallest and newest of the 3 experiences this is home to the only spectacle bears in the whole of Kent and many more species of south American wildlife, including:

Discovery Zone[edit]

The park has a small area in the park called the Discovery Zone, home to a pair meerkats, pygmy marmosets, cockroaches, green basilisk lizard, false water cobra, green tree frog, tree python and several species of tortoise and tarantula.Due to difficulties the discovey Zone is now closed to the public

On television[edit]

The BBC children's television series Roar was filmed at both Port Lympne and Howletts Wild Animal Park, and was broadcast on BBC Two and the CBBC channel. The programmes went behind the scenes at the two parks, following the keepers as they tended to the animals.


  1. ^ BBC News Elephant Crushes Keeper "[1]"
  2. ^ Aspinall foundation.org
  3. ^ Aspinall foundation.org
  4. ^ Aspinall foundation.org

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°4′34″N 0°59′58″E / 51.07611°N 0.99944°E / 51.07611; 0.99944