Frequently Asked Questions
If you can't find the answer you're looking for below, please contact us.
Where are Howletts Wild Animal Park and Port Lympne Reserve?
Howletts is in Bekesbourne and is signposted off the A2, three miles south of Canterbury. We're just 90 minutes from London.
Port Lympne is in Lympne near Hythe. Leave the M20 at Junction 11 and follow the brown tourist signs to the park (about 5 minutes drive from the motorway).
How long does it take to go round the parks?
To fully enjoy the parks we recommend that you allow about 3 hours for Howletts, and about 4-5 hours for Port Lympne.
Do you drive through in your car?
No, your car is left at the car park and you walk through the parks. However, there is an African & Asian Experience safari ride available at Port Lympne.
What are the admission prices for the parks?
See current admission prices for Howletts or Port Lympne.
Students cannot purchase tickets on-line with an NUS card - have to show card at gate on entry.
Discounted tickets are sometimes available online for single visit entry. Membership tickets can also be purchased online or on entry to the parks or alternatively a ticket purchased online can be upgraded to a Membership ticket at the admissions desk.
Which park is more accessible?
Howletts is the smaller and flatter of the parks at 90 acres and is therefore more accessible.
Port Lympne lies in 600 acres of hilly terrain and as a result is quite steep in places. There are, however, selected routes suitable for wheelchair users. There are reduced admission prices for disabled visitors and assistance is available on request.
How much does it cost to run the parks?
It costs around £5 million per year to run the parks.
What other activities are there?
Gift shops, play areas, experience days & enrichment workshops, keeper talks, and other seasonal activities e.g. Easter, Halloween are available at both Howletts and Port Lympne.
How many animals are there at the parks?
Howletts - 400 animals, 50 species (approximately)
Port Lympne - 700 animals, 80 species (approximately)
Who owns the parks?
The parks are owned by The Aspinall Foundation, a registered charity. John Aspinall's son, Damian, now runs the parks.
What do Howletts and Port Lympne do?
Howletts and Port Lympne are extensively involved in exchange and breeding programmes throughout the world and have had many breeding successes for e.g. over 25 black rhinos and over 100 gorillas bred between the two parks. Howletts was the first to breed African elephants in the UK.
The parks are not only involved in conservation at home but across the world with two protected areas in the Congo and Gabon in Africa of around a million acres of forest for the rehabilitation and reintroduction of gorillas into the wild, as well as projects in Java and Madagascar.
The Aspinall Foundation in conjunction with Howletts and Port Lympne Wild Animal Parks are devoted to saving rare and endangered animals and returning them to protected areas in the wild.
How did the parks start?
Mr Aspinall founded both parks. He purchased Howletts in 1958 and opened the doors to the public in 1975. He then purchased Port Lympne in 1973 to house the ever increasing population of animals at Howletts and opened to the public in 1976.
How big are the parks?
Howletts is set in 90 acres of ancient parkland.
Port Lympne is 600 acres, including The African & Asian Experience Safari spanning over 100 acres of Kentish countryside.
Can I bring my dog?
We do not allow dogs into the parks. Please do not leave dogs in your car. We recommend that you find alternative arrangements for your dogs while you visit.
If you don't find the answer you're looking for about our animals please contact us.
Are the animals in cages?
No, the animals are in large enclosures designed to resemble their natural habitat as closely as possible.
Is it right to keep animals in captivity?
Deforestation and slaughter for the bush meat trade are bringing many animals closer and closer towards extinction. It is of course best for animals to live in the wild but until such time that the poaching and cutting down of forests ends, organisations such as ours help secure their survival.
The parks keep the animals in as near natural environments as possible and provide a lifeline for many of these species.
Howletts and Port Lympne have in fact been pioneers in the way we keep animals. Our animals are not exhibits, but live in conditions as close as possible to their natural habitat. For example, our gorillas live in deep straw, simulating the forest floor, which allows them to forage all day for food as they would in the wild. They receive over 200 different types of food and live in family groups. Keepers are encouraged to bond with their animals improving the standard of life for both keeper and animal.
How much does it cost to feed the animals?
Just under £1 million per annum. We grow hay, maize, beet, kale and Lucerne on land that we own. We also have woodlands that are used for harvesting browse for animal feed.
What types of animals are at the parks?
Mostly rare and endangered animals.
Howletts is home to the largest herd of African elephants in the UK and the largest breeding group of Western Lowland gorillas in human care in the World.
At Port Lympne there is the "Palace of the Apes" one of the world's largest family gorilla houses, Barbary lions, and the largest collection of Margay cats in the world.
Both parks have many more rare and endangered animals including leaf-eating monkeys, wolves, tapirs, bongo, red pandas, tigers, clouded leopards and Pallas cats.
If you do not find the answer you are looking for below about our fundraising activities please contact us.
If I adopt an animal, will I be the only person who adopts the animal?
No, you will not be the only person. The adoption schemes have named animals that act as figureheads for each species. Everyone can adopt the same named animals for each species, and the money raised goes towards The Aspinall Foundation's conservation work. This makes it easier for us to provide feedback on a few adopted animals, rather than many individual ones, and keeps our administration costs to a minimum, ensuring that more of our valuable funds are used for our conservation work.
Please note: the legal ownership of the animal you adopt or sponsor will remain with Howletts Wild Animal Trust who has the responsibility for animal welfare and care. It will not always be possible for one of our keepers to help you identify the animal you adopt if you are visiting our parks.
What happens if my adopted animal dies or is sent to another collection?
If your adopted animal dies or moves away, we will let you know as soon as possible, by emailing you individually. We will continue to use your donation for the conservation work saving rare and endangered animals. When we email you we will usually be able to offer an alternative named animal to replace the one that has been lost.
If you are a loss making charity how do you survive?
Visitors help pay for almost half the running costs, the rest is met from donations from the public and trusts.
Find out how you can support our vital conservation work.
How can I support The Aspinall Foundation?
There are plenty of ways to support the charity, such as direct debit donations, one off donations, payroll giving, animal adoption, Gift Aid and legacies.
Find out how you can help.