“ Address: Hamerton / Nr Sawtry / Cambridgeshire / PE28 5RE / England „
In October 2011 my daughters grandparents asked us if we wanted to visit the zoo for the day. I had no idea which zoo it was or what sort of animals the zoo would have. It was a bit of a cold day but the sun was shining and it was exciting to go somewhere we hadn't been before. In the summer of 2011 I had visited my mum in the Czech Republic and we visited the Zoo near to her called Zoo-Olomouc. That zoo was huge and Hollie loved it so I knew she would enjoy even the smallest of zoo's and she loves animals.
Arriving at Hamerton Zoo Park
When we arrived, parking was free so we set down and headed for the ticket booth. As Hollie was under 3 at the time, she was free for the day and us three adults were £9.50 each.
When entering we decided to follow it round starting at the birds. They had some lovely birds but also some which terrified me and Hollie.
They had some beautiful flamingos, storks and owls but some of the scary ones like vultures were ones I didn't want to stop near to see for too long. We made our way round all of the animals and nearer the end saw an array of parrots.
What animals did we see?
I think at certain points there are different animals as a friend I spoke to about Hamerton said she visited not too long ago and saw a few more animals to when we did. There is a pretty random selection of animals here. I've written a list of all animals I can remember seeing at the time when we visited. We plan to go back again this summer with my partner as the prices were so good.
Cheetahs, tigers, Zebras, donkeys, huge selection of birds, wolves, reindeer, alpacas, camels, anteaters, smaller cats and meer cats, different species of primates, reptiles and lots more.
The funniest animal we saw that day were the sloths. We had to enter a dark room to see these and wait for our eyes to adjust to the light. They move so slowly and Hollie's granddad joked and said to Hollie, "they do move faster than your daddy does though!".
There is also a section with goats, sheep and other farm type animals that the children can buy grains to feed the animals. We didn't get a chance to do this as the weather wasn't too great and it wasn't the right time of year for us to do this.
My favourite section of the zoo
My favourite section was definitely the primates. The monkeys were talking to each other, swinging off tree branches and playing with each other. They all looked extremely happy in their home. They house lots of different species of primate here. We say howler monkeys, lemurs, Marmosets, Tamarins which look like little punk monkeys with spiked up white hair and gibbons of what I can remember seeing. Zoo's seem to add or take away animals often or change them around so there could be more additions to the monkey sanctuary.
I didn't much enjoy looking at the birds too much. Some of them looked pretty terrifying and were enjoying eating some raw meat. I can't remember the name of any of the birds as they all have extremely crazy names. The one that did stand out to me though were the vultures. These birds were the most terrifying to me. They stare right at you looking at you like something to eat!
Hollie's favourite section of the zoo
As a 2 nearly 3 year old, Hollie was very lively and interested in all of the animals wanting to watch them all and stand at each different cage for almost 10 minutes even if the animals were sleeping. Hollie really liked looking at the smaller animals. She liked the meer cats, squirrels and chipmunks and the sloth's inside the dark room.
I wouldn't say Hollie enjoyed the monkeys too much though like I did. She was a bit scared of those as they made a lot of noise and are very loud. She wanted to move on quickly from them and seemed a bit jittery standing near the enclosure.
Other things to do
They have a kids play area which we spent around 2 hours in after visiting the animals. We took along a picnic so we didn't have to buy anything in the coffee shop. I didn't even enter the coffee shop so this part of the zoo I can't tell you much about other than it sold snacks, sandwiches, hot and cold drinks or sweet treats.
They had some benches where the children's play area was so we all sat there to eat so Hollie could wonder off when she wanted to and play on the fun climbing frames, swings and other bits. There was a section for babies and toddlers and also the bigger children. Hollie has never liked baby areas and always shoots straight off to the "big kids toys".
Before leaving there is a gift shop you can visit. I thought the gift shop was brilliant. It wasn't expensive and they sold things which were zoo orientated rather than being a load of junk you could get from any old shop. Hollie chose a tiger foam mask for £1 and picked up a monkey teddy bear for £3. She loved being a tiger on the car journey home and soon fell asleep with it on.
I would recommend this zoo to anyone who wants a cheaper day out. The ticket prices are great and you can always make it cheaper by taking your own lunches. I do however think it isn't something you could spend the whole day at. We arrived at around 10.45am and we were back home by 3pm. I think Hollie being tired and bored was the reason we left but hopefully when we visit next time, she will want to hang around a bit more.
The zoo itself is small and perfect to take smaller children to as there isn't too much walking to do for their little legs. It is also good for the bigger kids as there is a lot of different animals there for them to learn about. There were some signs up on the cages to tell the names of some of the animals and a little about them. This was nice for us to learn about different species and see animals I hadn't ever seen before or knew existed.
I can't wait for this summer to be able to take her back there and hopefully feed some of the animals they have there. Hopefully the next time we visit we will be able to go to feed the animals, so that's a possibility for us when we take our next trip. All in all we had a brilliant day out and Hollie thoroughly enjoyed herself and we came back with lots of memories.
Where is the park and how much is it?
From setting off at my house, we took a 45 minute drive to the zoo. It was a pleasant drive through Hamerton as the town is very beautiful.
Hamerton Zoo Park
Prices for the day:
Adults - £9.50
Children - £6.50
Senior Citizens - £8.50
Under 3's - FREE
Everyday 10.30am-6pm summer time
Closed christmas day and boxing day.
I give Hamerton Park Zoo 5/5 stars for being a great day out and for having great prices for entry.
Thanks for reading my review
Always looking for something to do with the little ones, Im getting a bit fed up of driving for hours with them bickering in the back. Im usually stressed before we reach our destination so to find a zoo thats a 20 minute drive away is pricesless.
Hammerton zoo is situated in Cambridgeshire, at Hamerton near Sawtry otherwise known as the Huntingdonshire Wolds. It is well sign posted on the brown and white signs from the A1M (at Sawtry junction 15) under half an hour from Peterborough, Oundle, Thrapston or Peterborough.
Hamerton opened in June 1990 as a conservation sanctuary, spread over 25 acres of parkland it provides a safe home for a fascinating array of creatures from around the world. Some endangered, some familiar, some virtually unknown and even some that are now extinct in the wild.
The Zoo Park specialises in rare and unusual animals and boasts over 100 different species. It has been designed very much with children in mind with enclosure windows fitted at child height to give them the best views.
Some of the animals you can expect to see on the easy to follow trail are:
Storks and Cranes
Pheasants and Peacocks
Meerkats (I cant stand THAT advert aaarrggghh)
and the very fabulous White Tiger
As well as the animals in the enclosures theres the 'ever popular with the kids' walk through farm. Here the children can purchase food from 20p slot machines and feed the goats, sheep, hens and ducks and stroke the miniature donkeys!
Since my visit last year the Park has been extended and improved dramatically. This is to host the many new-comers as Hamerton is part of the internationally co-ordinated breeding programmes set up to preserve endangered species. In fact it is now double the size it was on its opening day.
What makes this zoo park amazing to me is that it relies solely on entry fees and donations so you know that by visiting you are directly contributing to the upkeep of the animals.
There is also their 'adoption' scheme which allows you to contribute to the upkeep of a favourite animal in exchange for a yearly subscription. The price for this is £45 - £65 a year which will give you a season ticket valid for the year of adoption, 2 Single use guest passes and your name on the enclosure of your chosen species.
Can you believe the following statement :
" Britain is unique in the developed world in not giving any type of help to Zoos. The opposite is usually the case; for example - we must pay Central Government nearly a fifth of your entry fee in tax, and the Local Council levies rates on the Park as if it were a commercial factory.
Most other local attractions (country parks, archaeological sites, waterfowl gardens, animal shelters, etc.) are subsidised by the Local Authorities or large charities which run them ..."
Another way they choose to raise funds is their 'Animal Contact' where you can get up close and personal with your favourite animal on a private one-to-one appointment with just you and the keeper for a fee! Fantastic !
The idea is to meet with and perhaps even touch one of the animals.
You can come Face to Face with a Cheetah
Feed the Tigers
Play with the Lemurs
Cuddle with the 10ft Boa Constrictor
Truly a once in a lifetime experience. We were lucky enough to be passing just as one of these contact sessions took place and watched this member of the public feeding the white tiger. It took the meet from the stick so gently, I was truly amazed!
Anyhow back to the park in question. I have to admit that on first impressions I was a little disappointed. It all looked a little 'home-made' to me but as I met the vast different species and read that there was no funding whatsoever I realised just what a hard job they do here. And at £8.50 entry its half the cost of most zoo entries.
The zoo park was clean and well maintained and all the animals looked cared for.
I thought that we'd be here for a couple of hours but can honestly say that we ended up spending the day. There is so much to see, animals to feed, activities and of course the all important picnic / play area. The children really were in theie element.
Personally I found the fabulous White Tiger the most mesmerising to watch, just as she enjoyed watching us! Stunningly beautiful with white and black stripes and fantastic blue eyes, Hamerton is one of just a handful of Zoos to keep this fantastic creatures ... and all in Sawtry!!!
Once youve been around the walkways (mostly covered so excellent all weather!) you will find youself at the childrens play areas. Split into 2 areas, one for toddlers and one for older children. Here the children can tire themselves out whilst you grab a table and a coffee from the cafe or perhaps eat a well deserved picnic.
The zoo is open every day of the year (except Christmas Day & Boxing Day) from 10.30am-6pm in the summer and 10.30am-4pm in the winter.
Adults - £8.50
Children (Aged 3-12) - £5.50
Senior Citizens - £7.50
There are often vouchers in the local newspapers for a free child with every two adults (This doesnt help the single mum!!)
Or for the cost of 3 visits to the park you can buy a season ticket and you can visit the park as many times as you like.
I will definately re-visit and recently phoned them to see if they could arrange my daughters birhday party there, but alas this isnt possible.
Id say go, whatever the weather. Take your wellies if its wet but there are decent walkways most of the way around. Take a jacket as its very open up there and always seems colder than in the town. Take a picnic as the cafe doesnt really stock much. Take some pocket money as the kids will want a momento from the shop. Take some 20 pence pieces ready for the food machines to feed the farm animals.Take time to walk around at least twice as youll see something new everytime. Check what time is feeding time for various animals and try to fit a few in your day.