One animal that never fails to make the girls laugh is a monkey! They just love them and could watch them playing all day, I’m sure they’d love to join in if they could. I knew whilst we were down in Dorset on our holiday to West Bay the one place we would HAVE to visit would be Monkey World – Primate Ape Rescue Centre. I went to the Centre years and years ago and had a lovely day so it was so much fun to visit again, this time with my own children!
Monkey World was set up in 1987 by Jim Cronin to provide abused Spanish beach chimps with a permanent, stable home. Since then the park has grown and expanded and is now home to over 250 primates of more than 20 different species and works in conjunction with foreign governments from all over the world to stop the illegal smuggling of apes out of Africa and Asia. Monkey World is situated between Bere Regis and Wool in Dorset, it was about 45 mins from West Bay.
At the moment with the current COVID restrictions, you need to pre-book your tickets and time slot on the website ahead of your visit. I should also mention that masks/face coverings are required for everyone over the age of 3 years old. This is the first place I’ve ever taken the girls where it’s obligatory to wear a mask for children, so I bought them shields as I thought they would be more comfortable to wear for longer periods of time. I have to say it was quite tricky getting them to keep them on, although I understand the park is protecting the primates (they are very susceptible and vulnerable to COVID) but I think 3 is quite young to understand and follow the rules, but we did our best.
We were met at the park by Charlie – she has worked there for over 5 years and offered to give us a tour to learn more about the primates (for transparency we paid for our entrance tickets, but the tour was offered on a complimentary basis, I’m in no way obligated to post this in return, I simply wanted to record our day and spread the word about the important work Monkey World do).
Having the tour was an amazing experience – I learned SO MUCH I could never have picked up whilst walking around the park wrangling two toddlers. Charlie was able to tell us all the individual stories of how each primate arrived at Monkey World, some of which were quite distressing to hear but it just shows how important the rescue work they do is and how abuse of these beautiful animals still goes on around the world.
All of the primates were excited to see Charlie, recognising her immediately and coming over to communicate through the glass. It was so lovely to see that connection between them, the staff there are truly passionate carers of these animals and they are so loved and well looked after. The enclosures for the animals are brilliant too, they have so much space to roam and there has been so much attention to detail about providing equipment and areas that would are replicas of what they would be used to their natural habitat too.
All of the primates were so friendly, often interacting with us through the glass. Violet found them hilarious and played little games with them, often touching their hands through the glass or looking into each others eyes. They are such intelligent animals, you could see them taking it all in.
If they didn’t want to interact with visitors they have lots of space to roam or private spaces to be away from noise and people too.
Some of our favourite enclosures were the baby Orangutans, Chimpanzees and Wooley Monkeys. They were such characters, it was so interesting to hear how different and unique they all are and how their dynamic works within the enclosure (it sounded more complicated then human office politics sometimes, ha!). There are so many different primates to see and they are all so different.
After our walk around to meet the primates we headed off for some lunch in the cafe. Monkey World has three cafes to choose from, we headed to the Malagasy, which has a play area within viewing distance so little ones can play whilst you eat your lunch – they also serve the BEST vegan pastry we’ve ever tasted – so yummy!
There are also various play areas dotted around the park with the largest, the Great Ape Play area being at the far end of the park. The girls had so much fun playing in the parks, they completed exhausted themselves by the end of the day! Pearl was having so much fun she dropped her beloved little grey Jellycat rabbit, but never mind! I hope someone has found it and given it a new home!
We had such a lovely day at Monkey World, there is so much to see and do, the girls had a lovely time. I’d highly recommend a visit and if you do, take an audio tour or attend one of the keeper talks (you can even join in via Zoom if you aren’t local) as I just wouldn’t have understood the depth and importance of the work Monkey World is do to rescue these beautiful animals without hearing it from an expert. It truly is an amazing place!