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A zoo in the village of Sawtry??
Hamerton Zoo Park (Sawtry)
Member Name: takeachance
Hamerton Zoo Park (Sawtry)
Advantages: not far to travel, full day out, cheapish entry, fun interesting day
Disadvantages: cafe not up to much, no birthday packages available
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.
Summary: If you live within 30 miles of this its definately worth the trip
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