There’s a quiet corner of the Brent Lodge Park in Hanwell which has some very special residents.
If you have a long memory, you might recall this as the Bunny Park, due to the population of rabbits, and later as the Brent Lodge Animal Centre, which thrived as a small collection of animals, reptiles and birds.
Since April 2017, the Animal Centre has re-branded itself as Hanwell Zoo, and currently boasts residents including rabbits, budgies, wood rails, pygmy goats, kune kune pigs, mara, capybara, lemurs, alpacas, tamarins, porcupines, agoutas, domestic chickens, java sparrows, tortoises, flamingos, ibis, cranes, peacocks, ducks, dwarf mongooses, turkeys, poison frogs, butterflies, a rarely spotted dormouse, and the most recent addition, a small aquarium.
There is a small charge for entry – currently £3.50 for a standard adult ticket – and for repeat visitors, the best value is for an annual pass, at £15.00 for an adult or £10.00 for a child, a senior, or registered disabled.
For those who wish to have more financial involvement with the Zoo, a sponsorship scheme is available to support your favourite resident(s), and the chance to experience the life of a Zookeeper for a Day.
Regular opportunities to “Meet the Meerkats” are available, and occasional opportunities to “Meet the Lemurs” – both are highly recommended for a chance to get closer to the fascinating animals who have made Ealing their home.
There is also a thriving education programme available to schools, especially relating to Key Stages 1 and 2 of the National Curriculum, and a birthday experience can be booked for groups of children.
Let’s take a look at some of the current residents:
Mara. The oldest residents of the Zoo, who arrived around ten years ago. These three rodents (Lily, Grace and Lati) have shared their space over the years with wallabies, guinea fowl, and have now settled with …
Capybara. These two large rodents (Hydro and Tupi) may be found swimming in the pond on hot days; they arrived in the new South American enclosure in May 2017.
Flamingos. The flock of twelve birds arrived from Chester Zoo in May 2017, and live happily in the Caribbean area alongside a group of ducks.
Meerkats. In August 2014, Chico and Kali, two female meerkats arrived from Tilgate Nature Centre in Sussex. This later grew to a group of six with the addition of Arthur, Stephen, Rex and Titch, although Kali has since passed away. They are fascinating to watch and interact with from the public viewing area, and share their space with …
Porcupines. Hatari came to the Zoo in Animal Centre days after being rescued from poor conditions with a broken leg. He has thrived over the years and with the arrival of Kuchimba, found his perfect mate and has now fathered two sets of porcupettes. They generally sleep during the day, being nocturnal animals, but you may spot them at opening time or later in the evening.
Lemurs. These three ring-tailed lemurs are mother and daughters (Tia, Vana and Fi), and are best spotted at feeding time, when they may oblige visitors with a rare appearance!
Alpaca. The two are members of the camel family, and have very different personalities; you will find that one loves the shade while the other loves to sunbathe.
Tamarin monkeys. These three little primates (all females) replaced the long-standing and much-loved resident marmosets in 2017, and are a joy to watch whether feeding, grooming, or exploring their own adventure park.
Hanwell Zoo is a member of BIAZA and participates in a number of international breeding programmes and conservation initiatives. It remains both friendly and professional, with a real community focus, and a clean, safe and caring environment.
Between April and mid-September the Zoo opens each day from 10am-5pm, and between mid-September to the end of March from 10am-4pm. There is a playground to keep little visitors happy, and toilets and a small shop on site. Just outside the perimeter of the Zoo you will find a cafe and picnic area.
Hanwell Zoo can be easily accessed by foot, by bus (10 minutes walk from Drayton Bridge Road), by bicycle, or by car (there is a small, free car park associated with the park, or pay by phone bays). For more information, visit the website or follow on Facebook or Twitter.
All photos by Louise Penn or Colin Penn, 2017-2018