Marwell Zoological Park
MARWELL Zoological Park
Fax: 01962 777511
About Marwell Zoological Park
Marwell Zoological Park is on Colden Common, Winchester, Hampshire, and is a variegated family attraction in beautiful countryside that offers an informative, engaging family day out.
Marwell Zoological Park opened in 1972 as one of the earliest zoos in Europe to emphasise animal conservation. It’s one of the leading institutes in the field, rearing, for instance, 200 oryx. The charity family attraction sits in the 100-acre grounds of Marwell Hall, a Grade I manor built around 1320 by Walter Woodlock. Its medieval timber-framed base cruck hall remains, and three sumptuous rooms are available for corporate and family events.
The Hall was occupied from the mid-16th century by the Seymours, and Henry VIII visited his future wife, Jane, while their son, Edward VI, was also a visitor to the Hall. Ticket holders can see the scene of a skirmish between Roundheads and Cavaliers in 1644, though sightings of a resident ghost cannot be guaranteed on a family day out!
From 1798, the Hall was occupied by the Longs, who made extensive alterations after 1815, as well as planting a huge cedar in the gardens, before the arrival of John Gully in 1841. He once fought a 64-round boxing match, and had 24 children!
Marwell Zoological Park is visited by over half a million visitors a year, and the focus of a gripping family day out are animals from 250 species, notably rare breeds like white rhinos and (Siberian) Amur tigers, as well as cheetah, zebra, giraffe, tamarins, macaques, gibbons and leopards.
The family attraction is divided into themed sections which can be seen on foot or via Marwell Zoological Park’s road train, free to ticket holders and running every 20 minutes to The Ark Gift Shop, Into Africa, Tiger Junction, Encounter Village and Tropical World.
Opened by author Wilbur Smith, Into Africa is an Africa-themed exhibit featuring slender girrafes, graceful gazelles, prickly porcupines, rock hyraxes and Old World Monkeys that are a star turn on a family day out, performing for their human cousins at feeding and, indeed, any other time!
Also open to ticket holders is Into Africa 2, a re-created Congo forest with bongo, powerful buffalo, an aquarium of colourful fish, lizards, and even assassin bugs. A 30-metre walkway into the giraffe paddock provides views of its neighbours, the warthogs and cheetahs, while other residents are pottos, a nile monitor, Lake Malawi cilichids and invertebrates.
Marwell Zoological Park’s Tropical World is another must-see on a family day out, the giant glass house re-creating a tropical rainforest environment with a breath-taking display of exotic flora that receive two hours of daily watering, including bananas, pineapples and rare flowers. Among the fascinating fauna are poison arrow frogs, green tree snake, gecko, leaf-cutter ants, scorpions, bird-eating spiders, the scary Chilean rose tarantula, huge butterflies, chameleons and monitor lizards. Pools contain catfish, Oscar fish and pacu, not to mention piranha and an island inhabited by marmosets and dwarf crocodiles. Exhibits about the role of rainforests in global ecology and medicines enhance an enlightening, captivating family day out.
The family attraction’s World Of Lemurs takes in a glass corridor around enclosures housing mouse lemurs and jumping rats. Their Madagscar habitat is rendered in a quaint flint-walled garden that was used by Marwell Hall’s kitchen. A path weaves between the lemurs’ indoor houses and outdoor areas, where the animals swing from branches and ropes, adjacent to but separated from Malagasy fossa – which love lemurs – for dinner! Not something you’ll find at your average family attraction.
For those who like animal crackers on a family day out, a trip to Penguin World is just the ticket. A group of 25 Humboldt Penguins skitter about a rocky outcrop and deep pool with pebble beach and stream, thrilling ticket holders as they zip by underwater and emerge for feeding. Eider ducks also parade by, adding to the carnival atmosphere in this zone of Marwell Zoological Park.
The family attraction’s Aridlands is a tempature-controlled home for Sand Cats; Addax – which can survive for a year without drinking water; Dwarf Mongoose that live in termite mounds and burrows; Egyptian tortoise; bull snakes; and locusts.
The Marwell Zoological Park Encounter Village boasts a Golden Lion Tamarin walk-through, an Animal Encounter Barn, where visitors can meet reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates and hear regular talks from keepers, and a farmyard with native animals like sheep, goats and guinea pigs, as well as a black rat exhibit. The adjacent Australian Bush Walk has two walk-throughs for ticket holders to see Wallabies and an aviary of noisy kookaburras.
Life In The Trees is a 5000 square-metre zone based on the Indonesian rainforest with a long house centrepiece, featuring anoa - the world’s smallest wild cattle - and Siamang gibbons. They can be encountered on a family day out via a walkway that provides views across a moat to their clearing. Luang, the dominant male, is Marwell Zoological Park’s noisiest animal, often making himself heard from the top of a tall tree!
Additionally, there are ferns, grasses and bamboo that the gibbons can explore and eat, Prevost’s squirrel, Tree shrews, and playful Asian small clawed otters in the moat and waterfalls.
Finally, Roof of the World mimics a Himalayan mountain range and its snow leopards, red pandas, owls and takins, based in an enclosure with scree, a waterfall and pool. The red pandas nestle on branches 30 metres up, while the aviaries include Ural and great grey owls, and other feathered friends flying roundabouts include cranes and lovebirds. Twitchers can also look out for rhea – worth the ticket alone!
The family attraction additionally includes three children’s Playgrounds, various food Kiosks, the African BBQ, and Bushtucker Bites, not to mention Picnic areas and tables on Marwell Hall lawn. There is a sheltered area along South Road, next to the Pygmy Hippos, ensuring that refreshments at Marwell Zoological Park can be enjoyed whatever the weather.
For those seeking to know more about the family attraction, there are special meet-the-keeper sessions, which, during Hampshire school holidays, take in Giraffe, Grevys Zebra and Scimitar-Horned Oryx, Okapi, Lemurs, the Tropical House, Meerkats, Rhino and Penguins. An even more special family day out can be had with a bookable half-hour Face to Face Experience, when visitors meet and feed endangered animals, going behind the scenes of Marwell Zoological Park.
Keeper for a Day packages extend the experience by shadowing a keeper for the day, taking in mucking out, preparing food, and feeding the animals. Furthermore, the Education Centre has corn snakes, pythons, geckos, stick insects, rats and toads, which school parties can touch, along with Animal artefacts like skins and furs confiscated by HM Customs.
Other events at the family attraction include themed weeks, fun days and wildlife art exhibitions (detailed at the website), while all ticket holders have access to a large Gift Shop. Disabled facilities mean that Marwell Zoological Park is a family attraction that everyone can enjoy, making it the ideal family day out.