Port Lympne Wild Animal Park

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Port Lympne Reserve
Date opened 1976
Location Lympne, Kent, England
Land area 600 acres (240 ha)
Number of animals 650+
Number of species 50+

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 in the Garden of the Apes at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park

Port Lympne houses the endangered crowned sifaka and the largest breeding herd of black rhinoceros outside Africa. As well as Siberian and tigers (of no subspecies), there are small cats, monkeys, Malayan tapirs, Barbary lions, which have just given birth to two cubs, African hunting dogs and many more rare and endangered species, some of which are on the circular walk. 'The Palace of the Apes' is the world's largest gorillarium and home to a complete family group of gorillas. 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.

View of animal enclosure and surroundings

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's to focus on their tremendous success in 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.

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]"

External links[edit]

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