It’s no secret that our district has some stunning wildlife, from kingfishers on the Lancaster Canal, to the Grey Seal colony of Walney Island, but there are also many other fantastic animal experiences for visitors and residents alike.
Not only is this fantastic park home to 54 acres of beautiful parkland, woodland walks, play areas and breathtaking views, it’s also home to some unusual residents.
Opposite the stunning Ashton Memorial can be found a Victorian Palm House, which has been converted to a tropical butterfly house! Also housing a variety of reptiles and insects, this is the perfect place to escape to on a chilly day.
Alongside the park’s butterfly house, you can also find their Mini Zoo, home to a small mammal area with common marmosets, meerkats, guinea pigs and rabbits. Their marmosets arrived in January 2018 from Monkey World in Dorset, where they were rescued from the pet trade and rehabilitated back into happy and healthy monkeys. There’s also a free-flying aviary which allows you to wander through the enclosure while the birds fly and feed around you. Towards the back of the zoo lurks the Mini-Beast Cave! Here you can find a range of species adapted to life in dark and dense habitats, including Clawed Frogs, Hissing Cockroaches, Blind Fish, Giant Snails, and much, much more.
If your little ones would like to get up close and personal with some of the animals, the park also runs Meet the Keeper sessions (please see the website for times).
While you’re here, keep an eye out for Jade, the park’s beloved tabby cat. She turned up as a stray one day and decided that the park was a great place to call home. She now earns her keep as the resident rat-catcher!
Just north of Lancaster, you can find a stunning collection of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates, at Milnthorpe’s Lakeland Oasis, the little zoo with lots to do!
This fantastic place is home to a wide array of creatures – as you wander through the main building you’ll encounter a butterfly hall, with a “free-roaming” leaf-cutter ant colony, insects, arachnids and a collection of exotic plants. Moving on to the Tropical Hall you’ll discover a wide range of animal species, while fruit bats (or flying foxes) and many bird species will be soaring above you! Passing through the gift shop and cafe, you’ll move to the outdoor area, which features some of the zoo’s more impressive animals! At their ‘African Drylands’ exhibit you can encounter mammals such as the Dik-Dik, a small type of antelope, as well as many bird species in the large aviary. Continuing on you’ll encounter possibly the most unexpected species, the absolutely stunning Snow Leopards! These incredible animals are not only rare to see in the wild, they’re also rare in captivity. There aren’t many zoos in the country that house these big cats, and even fewer who have managed to successfully breed them, which Wildlife Oasis achieved in 2018 when their Snow Leopard pair gave birth to a kitten.
The outside area is also home to many other species, such as Meerkats, Lemurs and Fossas, but we’ll leave the rest to be discovered by you!
Rare and exotic animals are always fun to see, but sometimes there’s nothing better than to get a hands-on experience with all your favourite farm animals, loved by children and adults alike! Make sure you don’t miss out on this open farm experience – there are always plenty of helpful staff to introduce you to some of the farm’s animals, whether you’d like to hand feed baby cows, or stroke a friendly pygmy goat, animal handling at Greenlands is an unforgettable experience. They are home to more than 120 animals, ranging from rabbits and guinea pigs, to emus and donkeys, with many available to meet up close.
It’s not just about the fantastic animals however, Greenlands Farm Village is a fun-filled day out for everyone, with many different activities for kids of all ages. You’ll love their Straw Barn, where kids can play among the fresh straw and on the wooden adventure climbing set. They can also try their hand at being a real farmer and have a go on their ride-on tractors and go karts, before having a bounce on the giant air pillow, which is fun for both adults and kids! There is also a splash pool available in warmer weather, so don’t forget your towel and swimsuit.
Undoubtedly the best place in the district to observe wild birdlife would be the fantastic RSPB Leighton Moss. Boasting the largest reed bed in the north-west, it’s no surprise this nature reserve is home to a spectacular array of wildlife, including marsh harriers, egrets, red deer and otters. If you’re lucky, you might also spot some very rare animals, some recent sightings include Ospreys, Spoonbills and Bitterns! The reserve It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Protection Area, and an Important Bird Area and lies close to the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Notable Mentions and Further afield
This stunning stately home with fantastic sweeping gardens, is the ancestral home of the world-renowned Gillow furniture family and is still lived in today. Not only can you tour this beautiful building, attend one of the many events they hold, but you can also enjoy a fantastic Bird of Prey display! These stunning animals from Northern Sky Falconry will fly every open day during the Summer season, weather permitting, at 3:30pm.
This fantastic zoo is just north of Morecambe Bay, near Barrow-in-Furness, and is home to over 1,000 of the rarest and most endangered animals in fantastic natural environments, allowing you to experience these wonderful creatures up close. There are also free-flying birds overhead and free-roaming kangaroos, wallabies and emus, allowing a truly unique and unforgettable experience. Come and hand feed Giraffes, Kangaroos, Lemurs and Penguins and be a zoo keeper for a day. There are also daily and weekly summer camp experiences for 7 to 13 year olds.