Yesterday we spent a chilly yet beautiful afternoon at the Port Lympne Wildlife Park!
It’s a great place with large areas to roam around for visitors and for many of the animals. There’s a ‘safari experience’, meaning a guided tour in an open truck & trailer, which takes you around parts of the park where animals like elands, bactrian camels, zebras, red letchwes, antelopes and wildebeasts are wandering around in more or less open fields. From the trailer you’ll also see giraffes, rhinos, ostriches, water buffalo and other lovely creatures, some of which are in more enclosed areas (depending on season, breeding etc.).
Apart from the ‘safari’, there are also many animals to see on foot, such as lions, tigers and other types of cats (big and small), apes and monkeys, meerkats, wolfs and more. They also have a large Dinosaur Forest, where you meet large models of pre-historic animals, from the oldest dinosaurs to more ‘recent’ creatures such as the mammoth, and there’s plenty of good info on signs along the forest trail, as well as a virtual reality app to make the dinosaurs ‘come alive’ which we’ll have to try out another time (if you’ve been there and tried it, please tell us about it in the comments!).
The park at Port Lympne is part of The Aspinall Foundation which is an animal conservation charity, so they have a strong focus on working with endangered species, and some of the animals bred at this park grow up to be released in the wild.
So, if you’re interested in learning more about animals and where they come from, why some animals (including the mammoth and dinosaurs) become extinct, what can be done to save threatened species, or if you just want to have a great day out, this is a good place. You could also use a visit here to learn about nature in general, trees and plants, the changing seasons etc. As home edders, we’ve always got educational and/or developmental perspectives in mind 😉
Something that is special about Port Lympne is that it’s set around a lovely old mansion with great gardens including water features and a maze. This is great for Penguin, and I’d say he enjoyed the gardens at least as much as the animals, on our visit yesterday. Happily running around the edges of the ponds (with us parents nervously watching, with spare clothes on hand just in case… his footing and balance is great though!), stroking the dense and well-pruned bushes (including some box bushes👍), exploring the paths, steps, maze etc. Very enjoyable!
I’ve seen a few blog posts recently about adjustments to Christmas celebrations, to make them more enjoyable and less stressful for children with autism (some also applying to adults). One aspect is to let go of your preconceptions, and accept that things won’t always be how you had envisaged them. In some ways, this applies to many areas of life, not just Christmas. And to us at the wildlife park yesterday, it meant things like only getting a quick glimpse of the massive male lion standing close up to the fence, while spending a substantial amount of time around the water features, and allowing time for examining the texture of an old brick wall. But the point is to make it an experience for everyone to enjoy, and if that means doing things a little bit differently than most, then so be it.
Also, for someone like me who’s always liked looking at textures, reflections, light and shadows etc, it’s great to have someone close who shares my fascination 😊
To visit a place like this off-peak is great, avoiding crowds and queues. It was also nice to see some of the lights and displays they’ve put up, giving the place a slight christmassy feel (even more so if you use their restaurants and hotel, which we didn’t). Even the meerkat enclosure had a bit of a festive feel to it on this cold day, with their infrared heat lamps ☺️
(I’ve not been sponsored to write this post and all views are my own.)