Article: A day at Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre!

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One of our favourite summer outings with the kids this year was to Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre, near Wareham in Dorset. Given the huge publicity surrounding Monkey World, we first feared it was going to be more than a little busy given weMonkey World were going slap bang in the school holiday period, however we were pleasantly surprised by how hassle free and easy our day was, even despite the large number of visitors there.

On arriving at Monkey World there was ample (free) car parking, and admission into the grounds of the Centre was quick and easy using the multiple entrance booths which streamed visitors through in a fast and efficient manner. Entry prices are very reasonable in comparison to other such venues (£34 for family ticket), and whats more go towards a very good cause as the park relies entirely on its ticket sales, donations and adoption scheme to fund its very valuable work into rescuing and rehabilitating abused monkeys. Discounted rates are available for groups of ten or more people, as well as gift entrance tickets which can be purchased in advance.

Monkey WorldThe site itself is huge (65 acres in fact!), comprising a large number of various monkey enclosures to house the ten different primate species that call it home. The majority of the park is outdoors, so ensure you are prepared for any adverse weather conditions before you come! A colour coded map which you are given upon entry allows you to plan your trip round the park, and despite its size we found the (short) walks from one area to another to be pleasant, uncomplicated and uncrowded (although note that the park is not flat and there are some inclines).

The monkey enclosures are amazing, and we were instantly impressed by the amount of space and the quality of the facilities that all the primates have. Obviously the safety of the visitors and indeed the monkeys is key, and every measure has beenMonkey World taken to ensure that the public can view these animals as closely as possible without causing themselves or the monkeys any unnecessary distress. All the primates have access to both indoor and outdoor enclosures all day long, and visitors can track their movements inside as well as out via a number of undercover/indoor/raised viewing areas. Ultimately though, the mood of the individual monkeys will determine how much of them you actually see!

The Centre apparently accommodates over 230 primates in total, including Chimpanzees, Orang-utans, Gibbons, Wooly Monkeys, Capuchin Monkeys, Common Marmosets, Squirrel Monkeys, Stump-tailed Macaques, Ring-tailed Macaques, Ring-tialed Lemurs and Cotton-top Tamarins. The Orang-Utan 'nursery' enclosure in particular was a personal favourite of ours, but unsurprisingly it does draw the crowds so be prepared to wait if you wish to get a good look.

Monkey WorldThere is a large staff presence around the park to direct, help and inform visitors. Interesting daily talks are scheduled at different locations and times around the park (these are also helpfully listed on the map) for you to learn more about some of the monkey residents, and there are information plaques all around the enclosures giving interesting primate facts and details. Quite poignant is the wonderful memorial statue of Jim Cronin who founded Monkey World in 1987 but sadly died in 2007 - a beautifully designed piece of art which is a very touching tribute to his outstanding dedication and remarkable work. His wife, Alison Cronin, continues to run the Centre.

Monkey World certainly accommodates all the family, with easy pushchair andMonkey World wheelchair access around the large majority of the park. Also worthy of mention are the great facilities that the Centre provides, including (disabled) toilets and baby changing, a designated smoking area, a first aid site, and a very well-stocked shop that you might have trouble getting your kids back out of!

There are plenty of open (and covered) picnic areas and tables positioned around the park, as well as three cafes offering a decent range of hot and cold food and drinks (we can recommend the hot dogs!). In addition, refreshment stalls are dotted around where you can buy hot and cold drinks, snacks and ice-creams.

We must also not forget the wonderful play facilities for the kids, including Go Karts, toddler play areas, disabled swings, and the truly fantastic 'Great Ape' play area, which among other things features an immense and wonderfully designed play Monkey Worldstructure that will keep your kids entertained for hours! This is really aimed at children aged around 8 years and upwards, although our younger children had a good go at it under our supervision.

Overall we enjoyed a really great day there and would certainly recommend it as a family trip, although we did feel from our own experience that the Centre may be appreciated more by slightly older children. Definitely worth a visit though!

For more information about Monkey World, please go to www.monkeyworld.org

 

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