Days Out in the South East: Wildwood Trust Animal Park

Last week we visited a place called Wildwood for the first time! It’s a really nice wildlife park, run by the Wildwood Trust charity, which mainly focuses on British wildlife past and present. We saw deer, bears, wolves, snakes, owls and other birds, spiders, rodents, bison, an otter, badger, fox, beaver, elk and many other animals!

Days Out in the South East: Wildwood Trust Animal Park #daysoutwithkids #exploretolearn #wildlife #Britain #homeschooling #animalparks

The park is located in Kent, north of Canterbury and south of Herne Bay, in an area partly covered by ancient forests. The animal park is set in this natural forest landscape, which means that you are surrounded by nature as you walk through the park, and the trees provide plenty of shade which is lovely on a warm summer’s day.

Whenever we go out to explore, and especially if it’s a place that’s new to us, we tend to let Penguin take the lead. Allowing him to set the pace for checking out a new place helps him to feel more in control of the situation and minimises stress and anxiety (which can otherwise be an issue, linked to him being autistic). Sometimes he gets unsure about where to go next, and then it helps to suggest a direction, but generally the more he can roam free, the happier he (and we) will be.

img_4901-1At Wildwood, there are a couple of play areas near the entrance (a smaller one for younger children, and a bigger on for the rest of us), and that’s where Penguin headed first. He did freeze for a bit when he realised they kept chicken right next to one end of the playground (he really doesn’t like chicken!), but he coped okay and we had good fun climbing up into some towers and exploring the zipline (he wouldn’t go on it himself but enjoyed watching it, walking along with it etc.).

We then set off around the park to see all the animals. For the most part, Penguin likes to keep moving and fast, and it can be a little tricky to find the right balance between allowing him to keep moving (which keeps him happy) and still stopping for long enough at the different enclosures to get a good look at the animals.

One of the first animals to really catch Penguin’s attention as we went around Wildwood was the otter. It probably helped that there was (obvioulsy) water involved, as Penguin loves watching water. Also, the otter seemed quite sociable, swimming up to us and popping his head up to say hello. So we stayed there for a bit, watching the otter swimming and diving, disappearing and reappearing.

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Throughout the park there were plenty of informative signs about all the different animals, conservation work etc, and with quite a lot of fun facts too. So we can really recommend Wildwood as a great place for exploring and learning, especially about the wildlife of Britain. It’s probably a good idea to check out the feeding times as well, as I think you may then get a better look at some of the more reclusive animals. We rarely watch feeds though, as we usually run on ‘Penguin time’.

About halfway through the park, we found a nice spot with a picnic table to sit down to have some snacks, next to the elk and deer enclosures. There are a good few benches and tables dotted around throughout the park, so plenty of picnic spots if you bring your own food and drink. If not, there’s a café next to the play areas near the entrance.

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One of the major highlights of our visit at Wildwood was the bear enclosure, where you can go up on a platform to get a good view of the bears, and then go across a kind of rope bridge above the enclosure, which we found very exciting! We were surprised that Penguin was so comfortable about walking across the bridge as it was moving about, and he’s not always been so confident about similar things. (I’m now thinking that it could perhaps be worth attempting a tree-top adventure of some kind…!) In fact, he enjoyed it so much that I think he would have been happy to go straight back up and do it a second time, if we’d suggested it.

After watching the bears for a while, and having a quick chat with one of the staff there, we walked through an area with wolves on one side and then lynx on the other side, and then got to a part of the park dedicated to bees! It was super informative, with lots of facts about bees and in what ways they’re useful, how they’re kept, different types of beehives, bee products, how they ‘dance’, what plants you can grow in your garden to help them, etc. I thought it was brilliant, even if Penguin didn’t seem quite as fascinated as I was!

As we made our way through the last part of the park, we enjoyed seeing a beaver in it’s pond, and checking out a little house with creepy crawlies in it, as well as one with rats. As we approached the exit, we had to get past the chicken by the playground, and although Penguin was clearly very frightened, he made it past without too much difficulty. Phew!

All in all, we had a lovely day out at Wildwood! We found the place relaxing and enjoyable, and it was also a good opportunity to practice finding the names of different animals in our AAC app, in a natural context. The ticket prices are good value in my opinion, and if you live nearby and are likely to visit several times a year, they have membership offers which may be of interest to check out. They also do special offers for visitors who arrive by other means than car! Take a look at their website for more info before your visit: https://wildwoodtrust.org/ .

If you have a disability, there’s an access statement available here (pdf, opens in new window). There are regular disabled toilets available but no ‘Changing Places’ toilet, however it says in there access statement that they can make basic adult changing facilities available if you give them a ring before visiting.

Thank you for reading all about our day out at Wildwood Trust animal park! Have you visited it before, or is this the first time you’ve heard of it? Maybe you have something similar in your area too, if you’re not in our end of the world? We’re always interested in hearing from you in the comments! x

Linking up with:
Blissful Domestication

The Helpful Hiker

Country Kids linky

35 thoughts on “Days Out in the South East: Wildwood Trust Animal Park

  1. Sounds fabulous and beautiful pics. I hate chickens too! Haha! The bridge over the bears sounds amazing. We have a few places like that nearby in NSW Australia. One of my faves being the privately owned Altina Wildlife Park which has everything from meerkats, monkeys, lions, giraffes, kangaroos, hyenas to goats and pigs! I got to feed the meerkats and they weren’t shy about climbing all over me or putting grubs into my shoes 😆

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    1. Haha, meerkats are so cute and cheeky! I love that they put grubs in your shoes 🤣 Sounds like a lovely experience to get to feed them. How funny that you hate chicken too! I can kind of see why, although I don’t feel the fear of them like Penguin does. He tends to prefer larger animals (even larger birds, and if we’d been in Australia I’d be worried of him walking up to emus, he has no fear of those!). I’m more of a pigs and goats person myself ☺️xx

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      1. That’s such a coincidence! I never realised I was “into pigs” until one day a visitor commented on how many figurines, garden statues, mugs etc. that were all pigs! I even have a serving dish for food that’s shaped like a pig haha 🐽

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  2. I always loved taking the kids to animal preserves, especially when they were young enough to still be amazed at seeing them. This looks like such a lovely place & it is wonderful Penguin enjoyed it so much without any trouble.

    (A rope bridge is something to be proud of crossing, especially!) I love seeing the badger most of all…next to the penguin it’s my fave animal.

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    1. Thank you! The badger was really exciting to see too, and it was great that they had created an area with windows into parts of its den. It was quite dark in there so tricky to get pictures, but lovely for watching the badger (and there is another one in the same enclosure, but it was hiding on our visit). Great to hear that you too have happy memories from animal preserves x

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  3. This place looks great. The play areas look fun and I love the pictures of Penguin looking at the Bear! I know what you mean about getting the balance between moving on but still actually looking at the animals, both my boys would be round it 5 minutes flat given half a chance.

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    1. Thank you Naomi! Yes, they’ve done a great job of keeping a natural feel of the place while still offering visitors the chance to get up close. The animals seemed well and conteted as far as I could tell. I have mixed feelings about animals in captivity, but there’s a conservation aspect too which I think makes a significant difference. The animals aren’t just there for our ‘entertainment’ xx

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  4. Wildwood looks like a wonderful place for a day out. I love your photos of the otters – it must have been fascinating to watch them in the water and I think I could have spent ages watching the bears in the bear enclosure too. Glad that Penguin enjoyed it so much too. Thank you for sharing with #CountryKids

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  5. Looks like a great day out! We love visiting wildlife parks and have a few planned over the Summer. I love the bear enclosure, my two would love that! Thanks again for linking up with #KidsandKreativity, hope to see you back next time.

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    1. Thank you Kerry! We too love wildlife parks. I sometimes worry about the happiness of the animals though… But most places around us seem pretty good in that respect, and many of them also work with conservation, such as the Wildwood Trust also does. So keeping the animals serves a bigger purpose than just being for our pleasure xx

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