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We recently visited Owl & Monkey Haven (O&MH) whilst on a day trip to the Isle of Wight (IOW).
Our main reason for visiting was that when we looked through the guide book O&MH jumped out at us because owls and monkeys aren't natural bed fellows so it was an intriguing attraction!
We got a bus from Newport there and it didn't take too long and stopped right outside. O&MH was much smaller than I imagined, although there are plans to increase its size.
The entrance fee is £7.95 for adults with discounted ticket rates for children, concessions and groups.
It was very quiet when we visited and there were only about five other visitors but the keepers still did all the talks and were very helpful and friendly, answering any questions about the animals, their natural habitats and the haven.
There are several monkey enclosures, each housing different monkeys. They are large modern wooden enclosures and there are enrichment activities laid out in each enclosure to keep the animals interested.
There was a baby monkey when we went which had only been born a few weeks before and the mum kept bringing him/her out into the enclosure which was lovely as I have never seen such a young baby monkey close up before.
The owl enclosures housed different owls, but owls aren't the most interesting of animals, especially during the day when hey would often normally sleep!
All of the animals (both owls and monkeys) have been rescued from difficult situations and seem happy in their new home. There was no evidence of distress at all.
The gardens in the haven are very well kept and nice and there are benches and areas to picnic which is nice. There is also a tea room, gift shop and children's play area.
We enjoyed our trip and would recommend it as somewhere to visit on the IOW.
If it's a zoological attraction that you're after, then the Isle of Wight has its fair share - the newest of which is the 'Owl and Monkey Haven', a purpose built environment for primates and birds of prey who find themselves without a home - altogether now... Arrr.
Location, Location, Location
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Found on Staplers Road (halfway between Newport and Wootton), the Owl and Monkey Haven (from here on in known as 'OAMH') is easy to reach from the Fishbourne Car Ferry, and full driving directions can be found at owlandmonkeyhaven.co.uk. On arrival you'll find a spacious gravel car-park which is free of charge.
Admission and Concessions
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I visited the sanctuary a couple of months back, a few weeks after it first opened. On the day, the centre didn't have many visitors, but the staff were friendly and welcoming. The admission prices are standard fare for an attraction of this sort, with an adult entry fee of £6.95, and £4.95 for children aged four to fourteen. There are concessions available for senior citizens and family groups, plus, there's money off if you're an Island resident (proof of residency is required).
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At this point it should be pointed out that the OAMH has grand ambitions - at present, only stage one of the project is open to the public, with stage two (expanding the size of the centre both in scale, and with additional animal residents) planned to begin in 2011. For this reason, the OAMH is a fairly small attraction at the moment - although there are just about enough interesting animals on display to warrant the entry fee. The opening times are from 10am to 5pm, three-hundred-and-sixty days per year.
Our Hairy Swinging Friends - (No, I don't mean the Belgians...)
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On first arriving at the OAMH I was impressed with how clean and orderly everything was - although this is probably to be expected considering the newness of the attraction. The labeling and attention to detail around the animal's cages is very impressive, and the walkways are clean and easy to navigate. There are a good selection of primates at the haven, ranging from Langurs and Gibbons to Siamangs and Marmosets. The monkeys all seemed to be content in their cages, and were seen happily swinging around and playing. The reason why the animals are in the centre is because many of them are old or injured, and wouldn't be able to fend for themselves in the wild. Although I hate to see caged animals, all of the species looked nice and healthy on my visit, and appeared to be well cared for.
As well as the primates, there are a number of birds of prey (not just owls as the haven's title would imply) including buzzards, eagle owls, and some wonderful barn owls. Like the monkeys, the birds seemed in good condition and well cared for, and the OAMH should be applauded for that.
What else is there?
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The facilities at The Owl and Monkey Haven are similarly impressive, with a gift shop, play area, and Xhabu's Tea Room which serves sandwiches, ice creams, and beverages.
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Although small, the Owl and Monkey Haven is well worth a visit - kids will love watching the larger monkeys swinging around their enclosures, whilst the smaller marmosets are incredibly cute and inquisitive. Yes, it may seem like an odd combination of animals - monkeys and owls don't exactly go together like fish and chips, but it's not like they're in the same cage, and both species make for an interest visit. Highly recommended, and I expect it will become one of the Island's premium attractions when it's completely finished, capable of rivaling Seaview Wildlife Encounter, Amazon World and Sandown Zoo.