Review: The Otter Experience at Wingham Wildlife Park

In May, my Boyfriend and I steered away from the tradition of drinking (and then drinking some more) after finishing our final ever exams at University. Instead, Sam took me to do the otter experience at Wingham Wildlife Park.

Sam bought the experience for me as a gift as I am a little bit, just a tad, ever so slightly obsessed with otters. They're so bloody cute! The price was £70 each which includes entry into the park (which is usually £17-18, depending on if you buy tickets online or on the door). Given that a day out for two of us cost nearly £150, we were wondering beforehand if it'd actually be worth the money - especially considering the actual otter experience bit is only around 20 minutes. On reflection it seemed very expensive. 

However it was 100% worth every penny

The otters at Wingham are called Bob and Pong and they had babies, who were still quite young at the time we visited. Whilst we weren't able to get into the enclosure with the otters because they can be aggressive, being up close to them and being involved in their training was such an incredible experience that has to be one of my favourite memories ever. Donned in our high vis jackets, we were able to be part of the talk on otters behaviour, training and feeding, and I have to admit we did feel quite smug being closer to the otters than everyone else because there was quite a crowd around the otter enclosure during the talk. Having a metaphorical front row seat was an amazing experience!
We got to feed them fish, which was so much fun that I didn't even bat an eyelid that I was holding a slimy, smelly fish corpse in my hand (gloves were provided, don't worry!). Bob would catch the fish and then take it to his babies to try and feed them - he'd make a growling noise which the keepers explained was him telling them he has food for them. Except he wouldn't actually let them take it. He'd take it over to them and then turn his head away when they tried to prise it from his mouth! It was so funny, he was the otter version of that 'don't take, just throw' meme about a dog and his ball. 
To train them we were given a stick with a target on the end. We'd hold it to the left and say 'touch', then the right, then above; after they'd done that, we had to say 'hold' and then let them hold the target for a few seconds. Then we'd give them fish as a reward. Me and Sam got to take turns to do this; during our time with the otters, we both got several goes. Being involved with their feeding and training and having the opportunity to be 1-to-1 with the keepers was such an incredible experience. The two lovely and knowledgeable keepers who were doing the otter talk were so friendly and happy to answer questions (and chat about how cute otters are, obviously). 
Even in the short time we spent with Bob and Pong, we really got to see their personalities. They're so cute and so funny, and their babies were adorable. We also got lots of time to take plenty of photos and videos whilst we were still up close, so don't worry about faffing around with your phone or camera during the actual training - you can enjoy your time with the otters without looking through a screen! 
Wingham Wildlife Park itself was amazing. I hadn't visited since I was very little when it was just a small bird park - a visit I can't actually remember anyway - but it has expanded into a sizeable zoo (very impressive considering it's tucked away in a village just outside of Canterbury) with gorillas, lions and bears (didn't Dorothy say something like that...?) I can't believe I've been living so close to this Kentish gem for so long having not visited.  We will definitely be going again and definitely be doing the otter experience again too. It a really brilliant day out and I think any age would love it. Me and Sam are in our early 20s and went as a couple and had a fantastic day, but I'd absolutely recommend it for younger and older folks too.

Here's the link to Wingham Wildlife Park's page on the otter experience with more information and how to book.

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