“ Hempsted Lane, Hailsham, East Sussex BN27 3PR. tel = Tel: 01323 442051 „
I am a huge animal lover, keeping and working with animals myself. I love visiting anywhere that has animals, and recently decided to go with my parents, niece and nephew to Knockhatch Adventure Park. It was a huge mistake and not one I will repeat.
The first animal we came to was a goat with a sore and scabby looking nose and ears. I didn't think too much of that, when you have a lot of animals there is rarely a time when at least one of them isn't injured or poorly. However, moving on, we came to an enclosure of chickens, some of whom were in advanced stages of scaly leg. This is a condition caused by a mite that burrows under the skin and is both painful and irritating for the bird/s concerned. It is also very simple to treat but I could see no evidence of any treatment on the birds' legs and they should have been treated long before it got to this advanced stage.
Moving on, we came to an enclosure where one of the hens was suffering from damage caused by the cockerel. Not only was her back bald, but under one wing she was sporting a large, painful wound. The cockerel responsible for the damage was still in the pen with her and presumably still mounting her at will.
Next up was an overweight pot bellied pig. Pot bellied pigs are well known for their predisposition for becoming overweight, and weight management is a high priority of these animals for any responsible keeper - so why did this poor lady have a food chute fitted to her pen for the visitors to pour unlimited amounts of food down all day long? This is clearly a case of putting profit before animal welfare, there is no advantage to any captive animal having unlimited access to food, but huge advantage to Knockhatch's profit as they're selling the food to visitors at 50p a cup.
Feeling rather depressed I moved across to an indoor barn where a lone emu baby paced constantly up and down its small enclosure cheeping sadly. A donkey sported a huge bald patch on its neck where it had either rubbed it due to an irritation or where it had become bald from constantly forcing its head out through the slats of its pen to chow down more unlimited food from the visitors.
Next to the donkey was a goat whose scurfy, flaky coat was highly suggestive of a lice infestation, or perhaps a skin allergy caused by the unlimited barley it was being fed.
Around the corner from this was the worst sight so far, a turkey hen with a hugely swollen, pus filled eye that is clearly a sinus/respiratory infection. This bird should have immediately been isolated and treated. It is incredibly poor bio security to leave any sick animal in with others and exposed to the public who could easily spread the infection among other animals at the attraction, or worse, take it home to any birds they may keep themselves.
Also in that pen was a turkey stag who clearly had a problem with his legs and was unable to move in anything but a painful looking shuffle that required his wings to help balance him. I can only imagine how hard it must be for him to get to the food and water in such a large area.
Moving on I saw a sheep with a neck wound - another sad by-product of animals forcing their necks through fencing to get at the food visitors are encouraged to buy and feed.
Towards the end of the depressing tour of animals was a pen of coatis, one of which was displaying typically stressed behaviour of a captive wild animal as it relentlessly and ceaselessly paced the same route over and over and over.
After a thoroughly hideous burger and a cup of coffee that looked and tasted as though it had been made with ditch water, we headed home all feeling very depressed.
I emailed Knockhatch with my concerns, and received an extremely brief and totally unsatisfactory reply. They did admit they had 'let slip' but also said that because their vet had been there 2 months ago, these issues 'must have flared up recently.'
Two months is more than enough time for issues even more serious than these to rear their heads, and from the tone of the email, it seemed as though the staff were unaware that in between the quarterly vet visits, THEY are responsible for checking the animals health and welfare.
I can only hope that bringing it to their attention will mean something is done for the poor animals there, but I won't be returning to find out!
Well, I'm down in Sunny Sussex on my holidays again, and today we decided to visit Knockhatch Adventture Park, on the outskirts of Eastbourne, off the A22. We, of course, being myself, my boyfriend, and my six year old daughter .
It didn't take us long to drive there from Eastbourne, although we were slightly delayed by a diversion due to the filming on the pier of the remake of Brighton Rocks. The carparking was free, although getting to the carpark required driving down a very narrow country lane that could easily be missed . There were plenty of spaces, and it was easy to find the entrance to the park itself and the payment kiosk .
Admission prices are £8 for an adult, and £7 for a child aged 3-18 . These are peak season prices, prices are quite a lot cheaper off peak . The, into the park we went . On first appearance, it looks like any other petting farm, a selection of scattered barns and buildings housing chickens, pigs, rabbits , and peacocks .
A little further exploration shows signs pointing to boating lakes, mini railways and all sorts . I love boating lakes, so off we all wait. One my daughter had been strapped into her luminous yellow lifejacket with handy attached whistle, we clambered into our rowing boat, which wobbled a little bit but soon steadied . The boat seats were hard and not particularly comfortable, and it seemed like the smallest movement set the boat rocking, but this was somethign we got used to quickly . The boat itself was quite pretty, slightly murky water with overhanging willow trees, and sheep grazing on the opposite bank. However, horrors awaited us when we rowed over to the far side . The first thing we found was a stray oar, floating on the water, which someone had obviously lost.
Being the kind helpful people that we are, we decided to row over to the oar, bring it into our boat and take it back with us to the landing stage . As we neared the oar, we saw something large and white in the water, which we initially assumed to be a carrier bag, or some kind of buoy. As we got closer, we realised that it was in fact rather large and fluffy, and looking at the sheep grazing just above the water, we realised this was a dead sheep . None of us are particularly squeamish, but I have to say a dead sheep is not the best start to a morning, especially with a hangover .
We dutifully reported the dead sheep at the boating hut when we got back to the landing stage, and the fellow working there was very apologetic . We then watched from the nearby adventure playground whilst the lad called someone to come over and drag the poor deceased animal out of the water up onto the opposite bank before it could traumatise any young kids .
My mind filled with 'wait until I write about this later, we then paid attention to the playground - which had a rather cool avalanche slide . Basically, the whole experience is a little like sliding down a snowy hill on a tea tray, but a little safer, and we all had a go on it - My daughter in fact went down it at least 10 times, managing to do so gracefully. My boyfriend however lacks such grace, and fell off his tea tray, rolling over with a comedy 'oh foooook'. Of course, he then had to go on again to prove he could do it, and soothe his wounded pride . I filmed it on a mobile phone hoping he'd screw it up again, but sadly no luck.
They also had a wobbly bridge, a tunnel slide, numerous climbing frames and an awesome slipwire in the playground, all of which were great fun.
We then went on some trampolines, which didn't seem to be manned by anyone, although there was a little hut next to them . They were safe enough though, surrounded by soft woodchippings, although I did notice one of the trampolines had a small hole in the mesh that might spread over time .
There was also a miniature railway which cost an additional £1 to ride. Only my daughter went on this, us oldies being far to dignified to sit on little midget trains . It went twice around a large circuit, and the circuit had several dolls house type buildings scattered around it to make it look almost like real train stations were going by. My daughter even got issued with an old fashioned train ticket, which she proudly clutched in her hand as she boarded.
We saw a display of various insects. I think we missed the start of it, but a very knowledgeable bloke was showing tarantulas, scorpions and cockroaches to the assembled group . He knew an awful lot about them, telling us that cockroaches can survive for three weeks without their head, and it isn't being headless that kills them but being without water. He also offered everyone the chance to hold a cockroach - I must confess I wimped out, but my boyfriend held one in his hand, and said it felt very strange holding them .
There were some lovely African Gray Parrots,who amused us for a good 20 minutes with their conversation and wolf whistles. I liked that their area came with a display board of information telling us their names, and also that one of them had been losing feathers and giving them to another bird to warm her nest . It's nice to get an idea of the personality of animals, and the little info boards helped . All the animals had similar boards - cows, donkeys, pigs, and assorted bird. I liked that we were able to pet many of the animals, and that there were plenty of handwashing stations throughout the park .
We then decided to have a look in a little barn decorated with halloween stuff - and discovered that children could design a pumpkin carving for £2, and have one of the park workers carve it out for them . My daughter had fun designing hers, and we left with a jack-o-lantern which will make a great centre piece on the dining table tonight .
There were a few soft play centres through the park aimed at younger kids, as well as a smaller playground with a sandpit and some old fashioned pull swings . There was a bird of prey centre, which had some amazingly huge owls , and a chair-o-plane that my daughter greatly enjoyed .
Activities we didn't try out included laser tag, go karting, the climbing wall, and bungee trampolines .
There were a few food outlets throughout the park, although we ate well before coming out, so only needed to grab a couple of drinks .
All in all, I really enjoyed our visit - it's not a thrills and spills theme park, it is a much more sedate and leisurely day out, but there is something there for everyone. The only slight downside to the day was the dead sheep, but at least they were prompt in removing it!
this isthe second year we have been to knockhatch as a family of four and we enjoyed it just as much. this children are spoilt for things to do and really don't know what to do 1st. we really love the birds and watching and learning about them,seeing them fly out in the open is amazing. food is reasonably priced and enjoyable. the boats always go down well with our son we will be back!!
My first experience of Knockhatch was when the owner visited our local carnival to display his birds of prey. This was my reason for going. The kids had various other reasons. The visit started with a picnic, though there was food available at reasonable prices at the park. The older children played on a huge slide under supervision while we finished feeding our toddler. A quick look at the animals and birds and it started to rain. Off went hubby with the older kids to reptile handling, while I took our youngest to the not so scarey soft play area, equiped with ball pool, slide and a variety of soft objects to be climbed on. There is a climbing gym for older children and Mum and Dad can get a tea or coffee and still stay in sight of the kids. There is also a small gift shop in this area. A quick go on the swing boats, then off to the gocarts fo the big kids, while we discover outdoor play, wendy houses, a good selection of slides, seesaw and sit and ride toys, and a sand pit. Soon it was time for what I came for, a birds of prey flying display. There was audience participation and I was one of the first ladies to lie on my back on the field while an eagle flew low over us. An amazing experience. Then the rowing boats, unfortunately cut short by the weather. Those with non-swimmers will be glad to know that life jackets are provided for all under 12s. It was by now almost dinner time, so another trip to soft play then home. Next year we'll be buying a family season ticket. There is a website http://www.knockhatch.com/ but it needs updating, also no one seems to have time for the guestbook queries. For price updates and questions I suggest you e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The price quoted is for a family of 4 for 1 visit.