Peak Wildlife Park is a place that we have been meaning to visit for a long time so over the Half Term break the kids and I decided to check it out! Located in the absolutely beautiful Staffordshire Peak District on the edge of the National Park (somewhere we intend to explore a lot more in the not so distant future) Peak Wildlife Park is made up of 75 acres of countryside, accommodating exotic and endangered animals from across three continents.
I’m not keen on zoos but a visit to Peak Wildlife Park is very different from the traditional zoo experience. Similar to Trentham Monkey Forest, there are no cages at Peak Wildlife Park, and the animals are able to roam freely in large enclosures, living and behaving as they would in the wild. Again, similar to the Monkey Forest, most of the enclosures are walkthroughs, so you can wander amongst the animals and come face-to-face with them in a truly immersive experience.
Peak Wildlife Park is heavily involved in conservation and welfare. The future of a number of the endangered species cared for at the park (such as the Visayan warty pig, the 3 species of lemur, the Humboldt penguins and the Maneless Zebras) might not be secure without the help of the international captive breeding programmes which they participate in, and they also work closely with the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, to promote conservation locally too.
Which Animals Can You See at Peak Wildlife Park?
The Humboldt Penguins
My Little Miss was extremely excited about meeting the Humboldt Penguins so this was our first stop. In the wild, Humboldt Penguins live in large breeding colonies along the coast lines of Chile and Peru but they are currently classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. This is largely to do with the human depletion of fish stocks but they are also affected by the El Niño climate cycle and are the target of hunters too. This has led to their population falling to as low as 3000 in the wild so the conservation and breeding programme at Peak Wildlife Park really is helping to preserve this species. We were able to watch the penguins swimming and playing together and even got very close to one as it crossed the path in front of us! What I love most about the penguins is that although they prefer to live in larger groups the Humboldt is monogamous and will stay with its chosen mate for its whole life – how lovely!
Our next stop was the wallabies, amongst whom you can also wander freely and test out your best Australian accent! Legend has it that there are wallabies living wild on the Staffordshire Moorlands after a man named Henry Brocklehurst had to close down his private collection of exotic animals during the war. Among his collection were five wallabies which were released into the Staffordshire countryside. They flourished and eventually became a population of around 50 but many didn’t survive the very harsh winter of 1963. The amount of wallabies still living wild in the Moorlands is debatable, but Peak Wildlife Park is helping to keep the legend alive!
There are three different species of lemur living at Peak Wildlife Park whom you really can come face-to-face with in the Lemur Walkthrough: the Black and White Ruffed Lemurs, classified as critically endangered, with less than 10,000 individuals thought to be left in the wild rainforests on the eastern side of Madagascar; Ring-tailed Lemurs, easily identified by their long black and white striped tails and currently listed as endangered by the IUCN Red List due to hunting, habitat destruction and the exotic pet trade; and Black Lemurs who are threatened by habitat destruction, hunting for meat or fur, and by trapping for the pet trade and are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. The kids loved walking amongst the lemurs, watching them swing and play and even sharing a bench with them!
We were lucky enough to catch one of the meerkat feeding talks to learn all about this fascinating species. We fed them and learnt about how they live in the wild. My 3 year old can now do an awesome meerkat impressions and meerkats are now my 7 year old’s new favourite animal!
African Spurred Tortoise
Opposite the meerkats is the African Spurred Tortoise – definitely the biggest tortoise I have ever seen in my life! It is from the largest species of tortoise found on the African mainland which unfortunately is currently classified as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List due to a number of threats including: habitat loss through urbanisation and overgrazing by domestic livestock, poaching for food, the illegal pet trade and use in Japanese medicine.
I had never even heard of a Patagonian Mara before so this was definitely an interesting experience! The Patagonian Mara are the fourth largest rodents in the world and with the body of a deer and the head of a hare, they’re a fascinating animal to meet up close!
Vietnamese Sika Deer
These beautiful animals, once found in northern Vietnam and southwest China, are now thought to be extinct in the wild. They really are absolutely stunning and whilst we were there we tried to look out for a stag for some Just So Festival costume inspiration!
Chicarito and El Bebe are the two newest additions to the park and definitely the fluffiest! Hailing from South America they look just like two big cuddly teddy bears – I just wanted to give them a snuggle!
Maneless Zebras look very similar to the more common Plains Zebra (but without the mane!) and Peak Wildlife Park is one of only two places in the U.K. (the other being Colchester Zoo) where you can see them.
Continental Giant Rabbits
Definitely the biggest rabbits I’ve ever seen in my whole life, these are one of the oldest & largest breeds of rabbits in existence. The children loved petting them and I’m pretty sure the biggest one of them was nearly as big as my 3 year old!!!
Also at the park are sheep, dik-diks, red squirrels, otters, different species of pig, goats and chickens.
Play Areas at Peak Wildlife Park
There are three play areas at Peak Wildlife Park: a modern and clean indoor play area with a small outdoor play area next to it; and a large outdoor play area near the rabbits where there is also a bouncy castle and a sandpit.
Peak Wildlife Park Cafe
There is a really lovely eco-friendly cafe selling various hot and cold meals and drinks. I was pleased to see that there were gluten-free sandwiches available too and the atmosphere was really lovely.
A Fabulous Family Day Out in Staffordshire
Peak Wildlife Park is located in Leek in Staffordshire, ST13 7QR. The park is open from 10am-5pm in the Winter and 10am-6pm in the Summer (31st March onwards). Adult tickets are £11.95, children (2-16) and concessions are £9.95. Annual passes are also available. For more information visit the Peak Wildlife Park website.
This is not an advertisement post – we paid for our tickets and I am just sharing some Staffordshire love!
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