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Kirkley Hall Zoo (Ponteland, Northumberland)

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Kirkley Hall / Ponteland NE20 0AQ / Northumberland.

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      10.10.2011 22:29
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      Kirkley Hall zoo I had already been to Kirkley Hall for a ghost hunt and when I read that there was a newly opened zoo, we decided to go on Bank Holiday Monday. The hall itself is a 17th Century Grade II listed building situated in Northumberland,just outside of Ponteland. We already knew where it was but it's not especially well signposted so it's best to have a satnav or to write down directions. The hall is set in beautiful grounds and the long drive to the hall is flanked by fields. There is a free car park and after walking round the exterior of the hall and having a light lunch in the café /restaurant (The Orangery), we walked back though the car park and there is a small brightly decorated hut which is clearly the entrance to the zoo. This is where we pay and having paid, we were immediately into the zoo. My first thought was how well tended the paths and walkways were- all new paths flanked by shrubs and flower displays; probably because the attraction is new and therefore not tired looking. There are apparently over one hundred species of animals including emus, wallabies, marmosets, pygmy goats, and donkeys, meerkats. The animals are all kept in large well tended areas and unlike some places I have visited the animals all looked healthy and well cared for. There are also birds in large areas which are covered presumably so they can't escape but which allows them the chance to actually fly. The insect house is all wood panelling and tanks of varying sizes containing different insects and amphibians. We were especially fascinated by a large iguana eating his lunch! There is also a large building which is used for training and here visitors can meet the zoo keepers and some of the animals including, when we were there, a tarantula and a scorpion. Because there were not many people were there visitors can hold the animals and the keepers answer any questions; they were very helpful and knowledgeable, and had plenty of time to talk to people. The zoo is only open weekends and school holidays but there is a rolling programme of activities, which can be seen on the Kirkley Hall website. As wellas the animals there are forest trails, garden walks, plenty of tables and benches and picnic areas. Especially popular was a wooden play area just outside the car park. ADMISSION PRICES... Adults : £5 Children (aged 3-17) £3.50, Children (aged 2 or under) FREE CONTACT... Telephone: 01670 841235 Email: zoo@kirkleyhall.co.uk Address: Kirkley Hall, Ponteland, NE20 0AQ VERDICT... The zoo is small and obviously well cared for but I do question the over 100 species. There were enough animals for perhaps an hours visit and there was lots of information about them;I got the feeling that because the place is new they were waiting for the rest of the animals to arrive. However, that said, the staff are really helpful and knowledgeable and the whole place is clean and well set out. The café serves a range of meals but is really slow but helpful service- three baked potatoes took 45 minutes. An interesting short afternoon out and recommended if you are in the area but not worth making the effort for. Thanks for reading Daniela xx

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