One morning during our recent family holiday to Lyme Regis we decided to spend a day doing something other than playng in the sea and eating ice cream. The weather forecast was for for a dry, but not particularly sunny day, and so we decided to pack the hordes in the car and head off to Monkey World in Wareham.
Their website stated that they opened at 10am, and Google assured us it would take one hour and one minute exactly to get there. So we packed a picnic, smothered everyone in suncream (can’t be too careful) and set off.
We arrived pretty much on schedule, and pulled straight into a parking space in the large grassy carpark. After spending a couple of hours unloading everything we own and strapping it to my back we staggered to the entrance. A family ticket cost us £37, which got two adults, and three children (aged 6,4, & 2) in for the day, which was surprisingly cheap. We visit Zoos regularly and to put it in context a family ticket to Marwell Zoo in Hampshire costs £60.
Monkey World is a great name, but it isn’t actually that accurate. It’s less of a zoo full of monkeys, and more of an ape rescue centre, and as my wife – a scientist – stated regularly, apes and monkeys are not the same thing. So yes you can find monkeys there, such as Patas monkeys, Spider monkeys, and Wooly monkeys to name but a few; the real attraction is the apes. There are also lemurs, so if we’re being technical Primate World would be a more accurate, if somewhat less catchy name. But I digress…
They have four different groups of Chimpanzees, three groups of Orang Utans, and five different species of Gibbon in the park, and they are amazing. The enclosures are large, and a lot of thought has clearly been put in to making them as pleasant for the animals as possible whilst still allowing visitors to get a good view. It isn’t often you find yourself mere inches away from an Orang Utan and her baby, and to be honest it is quite an experience.
There is something about watching apes that connects somewhere deep inside you. They clearly aren’t human, but they are surprisingly close. They way they sit, their mannerisms, and the expressions on their faces. Perhaps it is just me, but it makes me feel a little uncomfortable about the way they are treated throughout the world. And this is where Monkey World excells.
They go out of their way to find apes and monkeys that are being treated badly around the world, and rescuing them. Lots of the animals you can see were once being abused somewhere, and now they live in large, comfortable enclosures, being well fed, and having their photos taken. It isn’t perfect, but it isn’t far off.
The site is big, and it is easy to entertain even the most irritable of children there for several hours. The paths are wide, and there are plenty of areas for picnics. Play areas for kids are scattered throughout the park, but the highlight for the kids was the “Great Ape Play Area” where our own little monkeys got to play on nets, slides, swings, and rope bridges.
Even the obligatory visit to the gift shop on the way out wasn’t too traumatic. It is pretty big, and completely stuffed full of every monkey or ape themed item you could imagine. But there are plenty of things at the cheaper end of the spectrum. We set our kids an upper limit of £5 each, and they came in well under that.
As we left we saw that the car park was a lot fuller than it had been when we arrived, but it had never felt particularly busy in the site itself.
In summary we had a fantastic time. The animals are obviously well cared for, the enclosures are clean, spacious, and well designed. The whole park seems well looked after, and designed so well that it never felt particularly busy. It’s hard to see how they can do all of this charging the prices they do, but obviously they can. I can’t recommend it enough. If you’re in the area, take your kids along. You won’t regret it I’m sure.