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the experience

Animal Encounters

Our popular 30 minute Animal Encounters at Port Lympne Reserve and Howletts Wild Animal Park, offer the chance to get up close and personal with some of the most rare and endangered animals on the planet. The perfect gift for animal lovers from 7 years and over, our 30 minute animal encounters can bring you face to face with some of the most iconic and endangered species including critically endangered western lowland gorillas, black rhino, lemurs and other primates, big cats and more.

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insight

Unique Insight

From just £50.00 per person, your encounter will include time with one of our expert keepers at Howletts or Port Lympne as they introduce you to the animal of your choice - learn interesting facts, hand feed where possible and enjoy behind the scenes access as you immerse yourself in our amazing world. Exclusive encounters are available - please call to check availability. Animal Encounters make the ideal gift for animal lovers - ask about our gift vouchers.

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Port Lympne Reserve

Animal Encounters at Port Lympne Reserve

Make your visit to Port Lympne Reserve extra special by choosing an encounter with our gorillas, big cats, primates, rhinos, tapirs, giraffes or small cats.

Big Cats

Big Cat Encounter

Meet some of the impressive big cats at Port Lympne Reserve. Spend time with some of the keepers at feeding time to discover everything you ever wanted to know about these special carnivores and enjoy a memorable behind the scenes experience.

Available Monday & Thursday at 2.30pm

£50 per person plus standard park admission.

Primates

Primate Encounter

Learn about the agile primates such as lemurs, langurs, gibbons and others and how The Aspinall Foundation is helping to protect them.

Available any day at 2.30pm

£50 per person plus standard park admission.

Rhinos

Rhino Encounter

Meet one of the most critically endangered species in the world when you come face to face with the impressive black rhino. Discover the threats that the black rhino face in the wild and what The Aspinall Foundation is doing to help protect this species.

Available any day at 11am

£50 per person plus standard park admission.

Tapirs

Tapir Encounter

Get up close to our tapirs with one of our expert keepers to find out all about these unusual jungle dwellers and our successful breeding programme.

Available any day at 4pm

£50 per person plus standard park admission.

Giraffes

Giraffe Encounter

Meet up with an experienced keeper who will introduce you to these very special animals in their winter house or in the summer, meet them as they roam freely in the park.

Available Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday at 3.30pm

£50 per person plus standard park admission. Please note there is no age restriction for the giraffe encounter, however all children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

Small Cats

Small Cat Encounter

Join one of our expert keepers from 3pm - 4pm and help out with the feeding of the various species of this elusive small cat.

Available Saturday & Sunday at 3pm

£75 per person plus standard park admission.

Gorillas

Gorilla Encounter

A 30 minute encounter accompanied by a dedicated keeper, who will share their knowledge of working with the western lowland gorillas. Enjoy behind the scenes access at feeding time for a truly unforgettable experience.

Available Monday, Wednesday & Saturday at 2.45pm

£50 per person plus standard park admission.

 
Howletts Wild Animal Park

Animal Encounters at Howletts

Animal Encounters at Howletts Wild Animal Park, Nr Canterbury, offer the chance to get up close and personal with some of the most rare and endangered animals on the planet. You’ll treasure the memory of your animal encounters forever. Animal encounters also make a great gift for the animal lover in your life.

Big Cats

Big Cat Encounters

Choose from either a tiger encounter or leopard encounter. You'll be given a tour of our big cats and learn all about their behaviour from our expert keepers.

Available on Mondays and Thursdays at 2pm.

Elephants

Elephant Encounters

Take a behind the scenes tour of the elephant house and enjoy a talk from one of our expert keepers on elephant behaviour, enrichment, anatomy and dietary requirements, with the chance to assist in the preparation or presentation of feeds. Find out who's who in the herd and how we manage letting the herd in and out.
Please note contact with the elephants is not part of the experience as it takes a long time to build a bond with such intelligent, long-lived animals.

Available any day at 2.30pm.

Gorillas

Gorilla Encounters

Howletts is the home to one of the largest collection of gorillas in the world. Come and meet them behind the scenes and learn about how we care for them. We will give you a guided tour around the gorilla areas that are normally off show to the general public. The roof feed is weather dependant.

Available Mondays and Thursdays at 2pm.

primates

Primate Encounters

Meet our fun and friendly lemurs! We will introduce you to our curious and excitable red bellied lemurs and crowned lemurs and you'll even get the chance to hand feed some fruit treats to our new family of black lemurs!

Available any day at 2pm

Rhinos or Tapirs

Rhino and Tapir Encounters

Find out all about our rhinos or tapirs with our expert keeper. You may even get the once in a lifetime opportunity to hand feed one of these amazing creatures!
Please note that feeding or close contact is dependent on the animal's behaviour and may not always be possible.

Rhino encounters available any day at 11am.
Tapir encounters available any day at 11am or 2.30pm.

More Experiences

Port Lympne Reserve has many more activities to enhance your experience to create a memory that will last forever.

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How to book your Animal Encounter

How to book your Animal Encounter

How to book

Animal Encounters are £50 for a 30 minute experience, except for the one hour Small Cat Encounter at Port Lympne which is £75 per person. A valid day visit or membership ticket is also required.

To book an animal encounter at Port Lympne please call 01303 264647 or e mail us.

To book an animal encounter at Howletts please call 01227 721286 or e mail us.

Dates and times must be agreed with the keepers before any booking is taken and are subject to availability.

A valid Annual Membership card or single visit ticket for your chosen park is also required.

Terms and Conditions

Children must be aged 7 or over for all encounters, except the giraffe encounter at Port Lympne which has no age restriction.
Children below the age of 16 must be accompanied by a paying adult and there must be a minimum of one adult to every 2 children per booking.
Guests should make their way to the agreed point for a half hour session.
Animal Encounters are not exclusive. Maximum group size is 5 for all encounters at Howletts or 8 for all encounters at Port Lympne except the Big Cat Encounter.
All guests must wear appropriate attire such as sensible footwear and clothes for inclement weather.
If you are giving an Animal Encounter as a gift you must inform the benefactor of the need to wear sensible clothes and inform us of any disability or special needs.

Customer Reviews

Michaela Jordan

Reviewed

I and my son Aaron, and indeed our family group, want to thank you, Zoe, and the Aspinall Foundation once again for the most amazing experience today at our giraffe encounter.

We were made to feel like VIPs with our own jeep which took us back to the main entrance after our encounter, which was a small but significant touch. Both my parents have recently encountered major health traumas and my dad is registered disabled. For the driver to offer this might be a small exra to others but made for a magnificent finish to the day for my parents who did not have to walk up the final hill!!. My mum has still not stopped smiling and talking about the giraffes.

Michaela Jordan

Reviewed

The original treat was for my birthday, and as you know, my son wanted to share in the experience too at very short notice. You very kindly accommodated this request, as you did with the change to my gorilla encounter. The entire family shared in the experience. So whilst we could not all feed the giraffes it became a magical experience that we will all share for the rest of our lives. Which has made it oh so much more special to me.

A massive thank you from the bottom of my heart to you all, and of course the giraffes, who were simply stunning up close.