During a recent trip to the Isle of Wight, I visited Monkey Haven with my daughter – an award-winning animal sanctuary with charity status located a short drive from the island’s centre of Newport.
On arrival, we were welcomed by friendly staff who handed us an activity booklet, packed full of fascinating facts and a Tricky Treat Trail to complete in return for a prize from the gift shop. Needless to say, my junior reviewer was hooked and off we set in search of clues!
Monkey Haven is home to a number of rescued primates, who all arrived at the sanctuary after being saved from the illegal pet trade or other terrible situations. Here, marmosets, Lar gibbons, white-throated capuchins and Rhesus macaques, among many other apes and monkeys, live happily alongside each other in a tranquil setting, each receiving the care and attention they need.
The animal sanctuary also looks after rescued birds of prey, plus other exotic birds and reptiles – and is now also home to a mischievous mob of meerkats!
Our first encounter was with a pair of tiny red-bellied tamarins who originate from the Amazon rainforest. These beautiful, inquisitive creatures were a delight to watch and kept us captivated for quite a while, along with the cotton-top tamarins who also live in the New World monkey enclosure.
We were thrilled to see the Colobus monkeys and their fancy black and white coats and loved the Mueller’s gibbons and Siamangs who were so entertaining to see and hear. The loudest residents by far were the Lar gibbons whose ‘song’ could be heard throughout the sanctuary – and we felt compelled to join in with!
During our tour, we used the handy Monkey Haven App, which helped us discover fascinating facts about the animals and offered a look behind the scenes, together with some fun filters for selfies! Large, bright display boards were also dotted about the centre, which were really informative and easy to follow.
A highlight from our visit was meeting Djimmy, a Cherry-Crowned Mangabey, who was found on the streets in Germany before being saved by the AAP – an animal rescue charity based in the Netherlands. Djimmy now lives happily with partner Buna at Monkey Haven – together with his squeaky toy pig which he takes everywhere!
Keeper talks took place throughout the day and we managed to catch Sarah with her Eagle Owl and Lizzie, who fed the macaques, grivets, and capuchins while telling the fascinating and often moving story of each primate and how they came to live at Monkey Haven.
Opened in 2010, Monkey Haven continues to expand to meet demand. All money raised from entrance fees, donations and adoptions – which start at just £10 – help the charity to pay for food, vet bills, and accommodation for its animals.
Monkey Haven has been recognised by a number of awards including Top Small Visitor Attraction 2017 and Best Story Told 2018 by Visit England – and we could certainly see why!
Groups visiting can enjoy generous discounts, guided tours and free entry and refreshments for coach drivers, with free parking included. Full disabled access is available, with a café and kids play area to enjoy. For more information go to www.monkeyhaven.org