On the 1st August, Howletts Wild Animal Park welcomed over 700 Ukrainian refugees and their host families through its gates as part of a support programme to help them rebuild their lives in the UK.
The day was organised in conjunction with Canterbury for Ukraine (C4U), an initiative of local volunteers, charity organisations and local businesses that supports Ukrainian families coming to the Canterbury area in their search for safety after escaping the atrocities of war in their home country. The initiative also provides mental health support, help with language skills, facilities for young children and supports host families.
The guests enjoyed free entry to the 90-acre park, bringing their families together to see the 390 resident animals and meet the dedicated team of rangers. They met the park’s new big cats, Tipah the tiger and lions Khari and Grace, and enjoyed a series of engaging animal talks.
Brian Bennett of Canterbury 4 Ukraine said: “I host a family who fled the terror of Kiev and was looking for a way to show our solidarity and appreciation for all those in similar circumstances. I approached the park’s management with the idea of a day out to bring families and hosts together – and what better day out than Howletts. Their team’s incredible generosity allowed us to plan this perfect day and we can’t thank them enough.”
Managing Director of Howletts and Port Lympne, Tony Kelly, said: “When we were contacted by C4U, we didn’t hesitate to offer our help. We have watched the devastating events unfolding in Ukraine with great sadness and it was important to us as a business to react. Offering solidarity with these displaced families, uniting them and simply providing a warm welcome is our way of supporting in a meaningful way.
“Our suppliers such as Brake Bros, Simply Ice Cream and Miko have also been generous with donations of food and drink for the families to enjoy. I’d also like to thank our staff for all the hard work that went into creating such a successful day.”