Zebras, meerkats and monkeys ‐ it sounds more like an African safari park than a day out in Cornwall! Porfell Wildlife Park has gradually developed from a smallholding into a specialised sanctuary for exotic wildlife over the last 25 years. What's really nice about this attraction is that it is not a zoo, more a home for needy wildlife where visitors can really get to know each resident creature.

The well-presented attraction relies upon visitors to provide funds to look after the exotic animals that live here, so you get a great feel-good factor knowing that the admission fees go to a very worthy cause. How's that for a good reason to visit?

Porfell Wildlife Park and Sanctuary is run by John and Joy Palmer and their team of helpers and volunteers near Looe in southeast Cornwall. It has over 250 exotic animals and the sanctuary was founded to fulfill three important functions:
* To promote conservation
* To provide entertainment through demonstrations about our natural world
* To educate and teach visitors why we need to care about the environment

It has grown from a smallholding of pigs and chickens into a very special home for exotic birds and animals. If you want to see an Australian kookaburra (and hear its cackling laughter), watch monkeys swing in the treetops, admire grand old tortoises or watch the antics of the gang of meerkats, Porfell is definitely a great day out.

Petting farm or Maasai Village?

The Children's Farm is a big hit whenever I have youngsters down to visit. They always clamour to go and see the chickens, rabbits, lambs and donkeys. Myself, I prefer the more unusual residents in the recreated Maasai Village. As well as zebras, ostriches and eland you can see an authentic Maasai mud hut and see African warrior clothing and crafts.

Take a picnic and enjoy a walk along the boardwalk and nature trails ‐ there are some fun quiz boxes along the way where you lift the lid to see the answers. There are also the lovely Peacock Tearooms, for a pastie and Cornish ice creams all round, and an animal-themed gift shop.

Three special activities at Porfell Wildlife Park

If you know someone who loves wildlife, Porfell offers three exceptional experiences which cost around £50. As a memorable birthday surprise for kids and adults, why not book a Lemurs Banana Party? This allows up to 5 visitors to join the lemurs in their grassy enclosure under the watchful eye of a trained keeper. You'll quickly discover these furry ring-tailed creatures are gentle and curious, and in no time they'll be feeding from your hand.

Ornithologists, bird lovers and would-be falconers might prefer a two hour personal session learning how about owls and birds of prey. After some training the visitor gets to handle the barn owl and even have it fly and land on their arm. I'm sure you can think of someone who would love this once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Another more general option for animal lovers, potential vets or zoologists is the “Keeper for a Day” experience at Porfell Wildlife Park. Participants have to be 16 and older and they get a fantastic day with hands-on experience behind the scenes. You never know what you might see as new animals are brought into the sanctuary every day with different needs. However you can pretty much guarantee there will be some animals that need bottle feeding. There's always plenty of practical work needed, not to mention mucking out to keep the animals healthy and happy. It's all in a day's work for a Keeper!

Local residents can become friends of Porfell

If you live near Porfell Wildlife Sanctuary, for an annual donation of £30 you can become a patron and supporter with an unlimited annual pass and VIP invites to special events. Alternatively you can adopt (or gift an adoption) of one of the cute animals from coatis and lemurs to meerkats and monkeys. It's a great way to show your support for this worthwhile attraction and every little helps!

Open from early February to early November, Porfell Wildlife Sanctuary is a memorable family day out with adult admission of £9.50 and concessions for children and seniors.

If you've enjoyed a day at Porfell wildlife sanctuary we'd love to hear your feedback. Which part of the sanctuary would you recommend, and what were your favourite animals?

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