Port Lympne Safari Park

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Port Lympne Wild Ani­mal Park was set up as a pri­vate zoo in 1973 by John Aspinall to pro­vide more room for his ani­mals in his first zoo near Can­ter­bury. Aspinall was a gam­bler who held both eccen­tric and extremely right-​wing views, and ran unsuccessfully for par­lia­ment in 1997. He had a pas­sion for wild ani­mals, espe­cially goril­las and tigers. The ani­mal col­lec­tion on the Howlett estate near Can­ter­bury was opened to the pub­lic in 1975. The estate at Port Lympne near Hythe, Kent was pur­chased in 1973, and opened to the pub­lic as Port Lympne Zoo in 1976. The zoo­log­i­cal gar­den and safari park is set in a 600 acres land­scape, includ­ing the Port Lympne man­sion and its 15 acre land­scaped gardens.

Both zoos Aspinall founded are known for being unortho­dox, on account of the encour­age­ment of close per­sonal rela­tion­ships between staff and ani­mals, for their breed­ing of rare and endan­gered species and for the num­ber of keep­ers who have been killed by the ani­mals they managed.

One of the unique features of Port Lympne Safari Park is its open-concept design. Visitors can drive through the park and see the animals roaming freely in their natural habitats. There are also walking trails and enclosures where visitors can get up close to the animals and learn about their behaviours and conservation efforts.

Since 1984 Howletts and Port Lympne Wild Ani­mal Parks are man­aged by The Aspinall Foun­da­tion. A char­ity devoted to pro­tect­ing rare and endan­gered ani­mals and, where pos­si­ble, return­ing them back to the wild. For instance the Foun­da­tion man­ages two gorilla res­cue and reha­bil­i­ta­tion projects in the cen­tral African coun­tries of Gabon and Congo where they have been able to suc­cess­fully rein­tro­duce over 50 goril­las to the wild.

Together with Howletts wild ani­mal park they own an extra­or­di­nary col­lec­tion of big and small cats. In Lympne you can find: Bar­bary lion, Chee­tah, Snow leop­ard, Ben­gal tiger, Suma­tran tiger, Clouded leop­ard, Pal­las cat, Ocelot, Fish­ing cat, Siber­ian lynx, Cara­cal, Rusty-​spotted cat, Mar­gay and Scot­tish wild cat. Along with Howletts they house 7 Fish­ing Cats and over 16 Ocelots. Ocelots bred at the parks have been sent to Mex­ico and in time their off­spring should be eli­gi­ble for intro­duc­tion into wild habitat.

In addition to its wildlife, Port Lympne Safari Park is also home to several conservation projects. The park is actively involved in breeding programs for endangered species, including black rhinos and cheetahs. They also support several conservation initiatives, including anti-poaching efforts and habitat restoration projects. Next to this diver­sity cats Port Lympne Wild Ani­mal Park is home to the largest breed­ing herd of black rhi­nos out­side of Africa and the world’s the largest goril­lar­ium, “The Palace of the Apes”.

Overall, Port Lympne Safari Park is a great destination for wildlife lovers and families looking for an exciting and educational day out. It offers a unique opportunity to see some of the world’s most exotic animals up close while supporting important conservation efforts.

Port Lympne also offers a safari expe­ri­ence. A safari vehi­cle takes vis­i­tors across the open plains with giraffe, black rhino, wilde­beest, zebra, ostrich, ante­lope and other wildlife roam­ing free. It is even pos­si­ble to stay overnight at a lodge in the park to com­plete the fake African safari adventure.

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