Today the sun shone. In fact, the weather was beautiful this afternoon. Which was Sod’s Law because yesterday we’d been invited to Howletts Wild Animal Park to review their new experience, Animals of the Ice Age. And of course, yesterday was cold and wet. Not the ideal weather for spending a day outside looking for animals. However, we still had a wonderful time and we were all very impressed with the new exhibit.
Animals of the Ice Age at Howlett’s Wild Animal Park – A Review
We’ve been to Howlett’s Wild Animal Park a few times. We even visited on Little Miss H’s first birthday. And it is such a lovely place to go for a day trip. Little Miss H always loves to see all the animals. She is a huge fan of the elephants (although she is always surprised at how big and smelly they are) and the gorillas. And although we went to Howletts sister park, Port Lympne Reserve when I was 7 months pregnant with Little Mister H, we haven’t been to Howletts for a few years. So I was thrilled when we were offered tickets to go to Howletts for the day and review their new experience, Animals of the Ice Age.
We were also excited to be going to Howletts for the day as we’ve had quite a few quiet weekends recently. I knew that going to the Wild Animal Park would give us all the chance to get some fresh air and exercise. It also gave Little Miss H the opportunity to see some gorillas and elephants and learn about conservation and the animal kingdom.
Arriving at Howletts
We arrived at Howletts Wild Animal Park at 10:30 and were immediately welcomed by some very lovely staff. We also bumped into gorgeous Becky who blogs at The Mummy Adventure (and who very kindly took the photograph below). Becky and I had a little chat while the kids explored the gift shop. It only took Little Miss H a minute to decide what she wanted us to buy her before leaving.
Our first stop was to head to the Woodland Walk area of the park to see the new Animals of the Ice Age exhibit. I’ve always felt that the Woodland Walk, although lovely, is one of the quieter areas of Howletts. So I’m thrilled that Animals of the Ice Age is now permanently homed there. It has really given this area of the park a new lease of life. Especially as many of the animals that live in that area are getting new enclosures. It was also great to see, that a charity that is based on conservation is preserving the land and using it in innovative ways to create new exhibits.
Animals of the Ice Age
I have to say that this new experience, was the highlight of our day. We loved it. In brief, Animals of the Ice Age is a unique outdoor exhibition where life-size models of pre-historic creatures have taken over the Woodland Walk. In Port Lympne, Howletts sister park, they have a very similar experience but with dinosaurs which we thought was great. So it was brilliant to see that Howletts now have their own prehistoric creatures on site.
One of the best things about this exhibit is that each of the animals looks at home in the Woodland Walk. They appear to be emerging from their natural habitat. (There is even a woolly mammoth having a mud bath). And they fit perfectly next to the moloch gibbons, European wolves and Javan langur who also live in that area of the park.
I loved all the attention to detail on these creatures. Each animal was immensely lifelike and they even had unique facial expressions. Of course, we were all in awe of the size of some of these ice age beasts. Discovering a giant sloth trying to climb a tree was my highlight. Little Miss H loved the interestingly shaped horns on the Brontotherium. And Mr H was a fan of the woolly mammoth. Did you know that the woolly mammoth weighed 7 tonnes, which is the same as 6 rhino? That is one heavy animal!
Little Miss and Little Mister H had great fun trying to spot all the animals of the Ice Age. Thankfully, all the animals are well signposted so we didn’t miss any.
I have to admit, that I’m a bit of a signage geek. Years of working closely with brand teams will do that to you. And I was really impressed with this signage. They were interesting and informative. Each sign featured the animals name and how to say it phonetically. So Little Miss H enjoyed trying to pronounce all the silly names. The signs also included lots of facts about the animals of the Ice Age and a timeline showing when they walked the earth as well as other useful information. Mr H was very happy about the timeline – he does love a good timeline!
There is also a great activity pack that accompanies the Animals of the Ice Age exhibit. These packs are perfect for children Little Miss H’s age. There are some simple questions to answer, drawings to complete and colour and a dot to dot of a brown bear. I thought that this activity pack was a great way to engage the children with the exhibit and hopefully will help them learn more about the beasts of the ice age.
Lunch at the Pavilion Restaurant
As we were leaving the Woodland Walk it began to rain more heavily. Little Miss H began complaining that her feet were cold and that she was hungry. So we headed to the Pavilion Restaurant to grab some lunch.
There are a number of places in Howletts to buy food and in warmer weather, you could take a picnic and eat it in one of the picnic areas. We went for lunch at the Pavilion Restaurant and I was really impressed with the selection of food. As well as the typical foods such as fish and chips (which was yummy) there are sandwiches, jacket potatoes and a salad bar. They also offer picnic boxes for the children. Once again, the choice for these was great. And there was a good mixture of healthy food choices and the odd treat.
Animals of the modern day at Howletts
Once we’d all finished eating, we decided that we would take a walk around the park and try to see some of the modern day animals. Little Miss H really wanted to see the gorillas and so we slowly wandered over to see them. Little Miss and Little Mister H loved seeing their cheeky antics. We even witnessed one gorilla move a huge pile of straw in order to make himself a very comfy bed which he settled into happily. Little Mister H also found some fabulous puddles by the gorilla enclosure. And he had great fun splashing in them.
By this time, the rain was getting heavier and so we decided to take a slow walk to the exit of the park. Along the way, we were lucky enough to see some elephants, rhinos, eastern bongos, European bison, Iberian wolves, moloch gibbons, deer and antelope. I could spend hours watching the African elephants and the eastern black rhinos. They are so powerful and majestic. And if we’d had time then I would have loved to have gone on one of the tours of the elephant house.
Howletts Wild Animal Park is home to over 400 animals, unfortunately, many of the animals were, very wisely, sheltering out of the rain and so it was hard to see them. Mr H joked that the animals were probably watching us walk around in the cold and rain and laughing at the humans and their stupidity.
More of the day
I’ve produced a little day in the life video of what we got up to on Good Friday. It includes our trip to Howletts Wild Animal Park and visiting the Animals of the Ice Age exhibit.
Our Final Verdict
If you are looking for a day out during the Easter holidays or as the weather (hopefully) gets warmer then I would really recommend a trip to Howletts Wild Animal Park. Entrance to the Animals of the Ice Age experience is included in the price of a day ticket. And there is so much to see and do at Howletts that you can’t possibly get bored.
Have you ever been to Howletts Wild Animal Park or Port Lympne Reserve?
We were given free entry and lunch, in exchange for this review. However, all words, opinions and images are my own and are 100% honest.