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South Lakes Wildlife Park

Address Dalton in Furness, Cumbria
Telephone +44 1229 466086
How to Find it:
No of Species No of Animals Star Rating
Mammals Conservation
Birds Enclosures
Reptiles Education
Amphibians Recreation
Fish Research
Total 0 0
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This critique last updated:  Nov 2008

Official Description

We have not yet received any official information from this zoo – but see the letter from David Gill, Director below.

Visitor Reviews

Review posted by Andrew Waddington Sept 2000
South Lakes Wild Animal Park is a zoo which is dedicated to conservation;despite being fairly new, and only about 20 acres in size, this zoo contributes more money to tiger conservation projects than any other British zoo. Indeed,it is the tigers which are the main attraction here. Both Siberian and Sumatran tigers are kept here, but the thing which makes them  so exciting is the way they are fed. Meat is placed on top of a pole, and the tigers released into their enclosure to “catch” it. If you want to see this spectacle, though, it includes a talk which lasts for half an hour! Although the idea is to inform visitors of the threats facing tigers in the wild, too much time is spent critisising safari parks and zoos with white tigers, which is annoying and silly.
Small cats; ocelots, margays and Geffroy's cats are fed using a swinging pole. However, for me the best feeding time talk of all involves the lemurs. Cute Ring Tailed Lemurs roam free around the zoo, and  the keepers offer visitors the chance to feed all 5 lemur species on display with the fruit provided. This is an experience not to be missed, but it is only done from Easter to the end of September .

To the animal collection itself, and all the animals are grouped in continents. The tour begins with Africa, where giraffes, rhinos, zebras and gemsbok share a paddock. Other animals you won't want to miss include babirusa, a rare wild pig, and Maned Wolves, which unusually are anything but shy.  Primates are well kept in fields behind an electric fence, with large climbing frames. The family of Lar Gibbons are very appealing!  Also look out for the Red Pandas in a walled  enclosure.
But it is Australia where the real wonder is. Kangaroos, wallabies and emus are allowed to walk around this large enclosure with the visitors (and the lemurs!) .In seperate pens some rarely seen Aussie creatures can be seen; what other zoo keeps River Sand Wallabies, Brush Tailed Bettongs, and Blue Winged Kookaburras!?
All in all, an excellent place to enjoy the natural wonders of the world. If only the petty, childish comments could be omitted from the tiger talk

Review by David Lomas November 2008

This was my second visit to the South Lakes Wild Animal Park, the previous visit was about six years earlier. During this time there have been substantial changes to the Park's buildings and estate – you get the sense that there's a master plan that's gradually unfolding.


The South Lakes Wild Animal Park is situated in the south west corner the English Lakes peninsula just outside Dalton-in-Furness, which is a pleasant 30 miles drive from the M6 motorway. Dalton has its own railway station, but check the Park's website (www.wildanimalpark.co.uk) for your travel information. The car park is free and outside the zoo, although you can return to the car should you need to.


The Park is on a hillside with a moderate gradient, with extensive step-free routes to make it accessible to all. This is an open-air experience for animals and public alike. Around the big cat enclosures – African Lion and two sub-species of Tiger – there are raised walkways where from your raised platform you can see across to a big cats' raised platform – without visual interference.


There are several distinctive features about this animal park, notably the free ranging animals and birds in the Australasian section and the mixed species enclosures. Species from the same geographical area such as Giraffe, White Rhinoceros and Hamadryas Baboons share a large paddock with raised viewing platform to meet the Giraffes at eye-level. The Pygmy Hippopotamus co-exist with the Mandrills and in a large walk-though aviary their are many species including South American Macaws, Andean Condor and King Vulture. The most stunning mix was the Lowland Tapir, Capybara, Asian Otter (breaking the same 'geographical area' rule) with Andean Bear. That said, the Bears are largely vegetarian and were confined to their indoor quarters at the time of my visit.


The upper slope of the park has firstly a free-ranging Lemur area and then a walk thorough Australian exhibit. Whilst the marsupials, and there are many species at the park, kept their distance, the same can't be said of emus who blocked you at a gateway or on a narrow path. Getting this close to nature and Emus in particular, isn't within everyone's comfort zone. With the eye-level view of the big cats on their raised platforms and emus, you'd question whether this is one step too far for a barrier-free zoo.


There are many detailed instructions for the visitor to observe and signage is generally good. There are keeper talks – although why they refer to monkeys as 'these guys' is a tad off-putting. 

With the Park's outreach work, particularly in Tiger conservation, the park delivers a strong educational message on wildlife and its conservation.  There's an active and major contribution to the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) to strengthen the message. Unusually, the Park isn't a BIAZA member. With the chance to see some unusual species in mixed company and to get up close to others, it's worth a visit so you can make your own mind up on this Park.


An official Response to the Visitor Review

Response posted by David Gill, Director of South Lakes Wild Animal Park.
Dear Editor, I have read the critique of South Lakes Wild Animal Park, UK Your reviewer has a right to his opinion about the tiger conservation talk, but his comments are in themselves “childish, annoying and silly”, as they sadly reflect a view that is held by zoo fans, that white tigers and zoos which are patently using the animals for entertainment are legitimate. Every day of the year we give this talk and it has an audience of around 250,000 people a year. The talk given criticising non conservation zoos ,also commends good conservation zoos. It is a fact that this “petty, childish talk” has raised now £240,000 for active in-situ conservation for Sumatran Tigers. More than any zoo in the world without doubt. In my view it is comments like these from people seeking entertainment from a zoo that inevitably will see the last tigers disappear from the wild with their apathy to the seriousness of the subject we deal with everyday. Some people do not like the truth being told about mediocre zoos. I challenge any zoo in the world to take on this direct action conservation and face the crowd with the real issues which the zoos around the world have to respond to for the sake of the animals in our care and their future. .yours David S Gill, Director,South Lakes Wild Animal Park,Dalton in Furness, Cumbria, UK


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