If you're on holiday in Pembrokeshire and your children love animals? Then the national award winning 'Folly Farm' might just be the place to visit! Situated just outside the impressive Bluestone Resort, close to some fantastic family experiences and fine beaches lies this family friendly Adventure Park & Zoo. If you regularly visit the south-west corner of Wales (a little north of Saundersfoot and Tenby), you've probably already heard of this fantastic family friendly attraction. But if you haven't, it's well worth every second of the visit...
Safaris often lure you in with the promise of a possible sighting of the 'Big Five' but Folly Farm offers a guaranteed 'Big Four' experience including a Fairground, Barn, Zoo an Adventure Park. So if your children like vintage fairground rides, plenty of outdoor space, specialist animal feeding experiences and 'toddler friendly animal barns... then this place might just be the ticket for a great family day out for your family.
With its fantastic mix of family attractions, one day is simply not long enough! All kids will enjoy the views from the giant Ferris wheel or taking a ride on Folly Farm's very own 'piggery' train. Other attractions for the little ones include the all-weather indoor play barn or it's enormous outdoor equivalent. But the attractions for younger kids wouldn't be complete without a petting barn for the little ones, for whom a hopping rabbit to stroke or goat to milk is a lot more fun than seeing a lion asleep inside its enclosure.
With an impressive on-site zoo, complete with walk-throughs and animal 'zoo keeper' experiences not to mention Folly Farm's vintage themed fairground, all older members of your party should stay entertained.... our's certainly were!! But for those who love a bigger thrill, then you'd love the appropriately named 'Follystone' Go Kart racetrack or the JCB digger enclosure. All in all, the site boasts a whooping 750+ animals from cute and cuddly to roaring lions.... and 8 adventure play areas plus 16 different rides in the indoor vintage playground....!! So plenty to keep an energetic family busy for the whole day!!!
Set in over 125 acres of fun, you can enjoy a rain day indoors or enjoy the sunshine outdoors in places including the Kifaru Game Reserve, Penguin Coast or Giraffe Heights... but to get the most out of your family experience at Folly Farm, we'd recommend booking yourselves onto one of the popular 'animal experiences'.
Whatever the ages in your group and we covered the age range from grandchild to grandmother! The thrill of getting up close and personal with some of nature's most impressive creatures is only heightened by the immersive nature of the experience. You'll be selecting your own fish for the penguins, checking the CCTV for the exact position of the Rhinos or even checking the Giraffe's tongues!! All under the close and helpful supervision of the zoo keepers who help you during these experiences.
Each visit can last about 30-45 mins and can be as informative or practical as you and the zoo keeper decide.... just be aware that because they're so popular, it's important you book 'Animal Experiences' ahead of any future visit. Perhaps like you, for our girls, this is the key reason to visit Folly Farm, and the smiles on our girl's faces was all the proof we needed to confirm it had been the right choice!! Plus we even left with a little 'furry memento' from our visits which was a great reminder of our Rhino, Penguin and Giraffe experiences.
If pushed, we'd offer this in terms of which we preferred.....although each one was brilliant in it's own individual way. For our girls, the 'Giraffe Experience' was the most complete visit. Rachel the zoo keeper loved explaining about the temperaments of each individual giraffe (Rian (8), Tahaqa (10) & Silan (13)) which were evident throughout the feeding... and she clearly loved explaining the importance of conserving the remaining 80,000 giraffes alive in the world (you might be forgiven for thinking elephants were in more danger, but they have over 400,000 left!!)
Whereas the Penguins were perhaps the most engaging to feed as they darted in and around your legs it was the infectious nature of the staff that made sure the whole 'Penguin Experience' was full of laughter and enjoyment... And as for the 'Rhino Experience', this unique chance to meet some of Africa's most endangered species will live long in Lottie's memory for the sheer size yet gentle nature of these magnificent animals.
Having loved the chance to visit Rio Safari in Spain to see animal assisted therapy in action (click here to find out more)... we've gone into these type of zoos with an open mind. Visits to 'Den Blaa Planet' in Copenhagen, Porto's SeaLife Centre or Valencia's 'Bio Parc' have only furthered the girls interest in animal conservation. So much so that both girls have expressed an interest in careers with animals, so both were interested to hear just how much hard work goes into even getting to become a zoo keeper these days.
Nor had we heard before about the intense scrutiny that modern zoos are increasingly under to ensure they receive the fullest of accreditations (NB: It's apparently crucially important to check in the UK or Europe before you visit a zoo to ensure they have BIAZA or EAZA). Or just how hard it is for zoos to get breeding stock... in fact little to no money now changes hands as the animals are often owned by others and simply lent to zoos....
It's clearly crucial to keep animals living in their own habitats yet it's also true to acknowledge that zoos are playing an increasingly large role in ensuring there is a 'stronghold' of each species in zoos to ensure their survival. With the rate at which habitation is being lost due to climate change and urban sprawl... it's important to safeguard the future of each animal. So not just the ones that have privileged positions (the male Rhino at Folly Farm is the 9th most important in Europe due to its bloodline!) but also for the 3 male giraffes who will never breed but are kept at Folly Farm to allow other zoos to accommodate their breeding stock.
From a 'RoadSchooling Perspective', Folly Farm does an excellent job of helping pass this information across using clever information boards across the site (some small and easy to read, others packed brimful with information) about continents, ecosystems and animals)
As we've mentioned above, the quality of the staff make all the difference to 'wide eyed' children desperate to learn more about their favourite animals.... but in fairness, this was just as evident from the staff in the 'goat milking' in the barn to the staff in the superb 'FunFair Restaurant'. Well Done Folly Farm, they're a credit to you!!!
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