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“Really enjoyable experience”

Hemsley Conservation Centre
Ranked #1 of 1 things to do in Fairseat
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: <1 hour
Owner description: Home to some of the world's most exotic and threatened wildlife
Reviewed 6 April 2018

We went to Hensley as we had booked a junior zookeeper experience for my daughters 11th birthday. We were unsure on our arrival as to how it would be as we had never been there before and the entrance was not easy to find at first.
We were greeted by the staff who were all friendly and helpful. Katie was our keeper for the day and we found her to be very knowledgeable about the zoo and all of the animals. The way she spoke to the children and engaged them was excellent. Katie also took the time to include the adults in the visit and provided further information regarding the development of the centre.
Our daughter spent plenty of time with the animals learning about them, feeding them and also cleaning out their enclosures. She really enjoyed her time there and would love to do it again.
Yes the centre is small and the facilities are somewhat limited but this did not detract from our enjoyment of the day. Katie made it fun and informative and it is good to see how they are trying to improve the site and hearing the stories of the animals that are there and why was fascinating.
This was a close up experience with the animals and a thoroughly enjoyable morning.
Thank you

1  Thank alr8ch
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviews (133)
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"garden centre"
in 10 reviews
"keeper experience"
in 3 reviews
"lemur experience"
in 3 reviews
"large zoo"
in 3 reviews
"big heart"
in 2 reviews
"new arrivals"
in 2 reviews
"enjoyable morning"
in 3 reviews
"small picnic area"
in 2 reviews
"fallen in love"
in 2 reviews
"vip experience"
in 2 reviews
"visited today"
in 5 reviews
"slow loris"
in 4 reviews
"young staff"
in 2 reviews
"unusual animals"
in 2 reviews
"adds to the charm"
in 2 reviews
"cafe next door"
in 2 reviews
"take your time"
in 4 reviews
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61 - 65 of 133 reviews

Reviewed 5 April 2018

We visited today. £26 for 2 adults and 2 small kids. We have been visiting small animal parks for many years and this is by far the worst. It's very very small, about the size of a large garden. It's like a building site and surrounded by ramshackle buildings and rubbish. The enclosures are terribly built out of what is clearly any old remnants of wood and wire that can be found. Some of them are part built and full of rubbish. Some of the enclosures are not fit to house the animals which are alone or in pairs. It's hard to see what conservation is happening. I have a particular interest in reptiles and have kept them over the years. The 'reptile house' is a small shed with some meerkats? A tortoise, and a couple of lizards. The caiman lizard is inappropriately housed. The minimum requirements for such a lizard is a 6ft enclosure with both land and water. This poor thing had some branches to cling to over water, nothing else. The place is a mess, with everything extremely poorly built, little apparent regard for either the animals or the visitor. It's a health and safety nightmare. I cut my head looking at some terrapins, as there were sharp sticks pointing out at eye level. I am staggered by the positive reviews and that anyone would want to spend more than half an hour at this place. I have been to people's houses where there are more animals and more evidence of conservation. Kids were very disappointed and asked if we could go somewhere to see some animals now as we left. I felt ripped off, angry and guilty for suggesting we visit. This place is a disgrace. I only wish I had taken some pictures to show how bad it is. Don't waste your money it is unbelievably terrible.

3  Thank petemiles62
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
hccentre, Manager at Hemsley Conservation Centre, responded to this reviewResponded 9 April 2018

Hello “petemiles62”

There are a few points we would like to raise in response to your review -

In regards to our size – we are new, continually growing zoo, in a state of expansion. Our animals have access to indoor and outdoor enclosures and their welfare in relation to enclosures, is, in contrary to your opinion, meeting and surpassing all of their welfare needs.
In regards to construction work, prior research in to our history would have uncovered that we are continually building and improving facilities. A member of staff would have been happy to discuss these with you had you have taken the opportunity to express your concerns.
In regards to our caiman lizard – As a reptile enthusiast, I am sure that you are aware that these specific lizards are indeed semi aquatic, and arboreal. This means that in their natural habitat, they climb and spend a large majority of their time in water. Specifically branches along river banks over hanging water bodies. I would also like to take this opportunity to point out that there are no minimum requirements regarding enclosure size for these animals. You will be happy to hear however that our new caiman lizard enclosure is almost complete.
We assure you that our enclosures and buildings are not poorly built, again contrary to your opinion. Our staff are all highly experienced and qualified and this is reflected in the care of our animals. If you are also experienced and qualified to this level to pass such opinions about animal welfare, we would happily engage in a constructive debate about this topic.
In response to sharp sticks overhanging our terrapin pool outside – we must only assume that you are referring to the plants around the area.
To operate a zoological institution in the UK, you must operate under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981, which is granted by the local licensing authority – in this case, our council. We also take part in regular inspections carried out by the council and a government appointed zoo vet.
In terms of value for money, many of our visitors stay for a minimum 2-2.5 hours and make the most of our free talks and encounters. A similar amount of time that you would spend at the cinema, for around double the price for a family of this size.
As you say you left feeling disappointed, it is also a shame that you did not raise these concerns with a member of staff. We could have had an in-depth conversation with you addressing your concerns and educated you about the day to day running’s of such an institution, and the conservation work we carry out.
If you would like more information as to this, please do get in touch as we would be happy to talk with you.

Similarly, as you stated how you felt, we are also left disappointed, and bemused that anyone can leave an opinion on a review site, without having a face to face conversation providing an educated, factual side to what we do. If your concerns were that strong, rather than doing this, you could have spoken with someone directly.


Best wishes,

Hemsley Conservation Centre

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 April 2018

I bought the Junior Zookeeper Experience for my grandson James birthday, what a success. Not much impresses James, an avid animal lover and very well travelled but our day at Hemsley certainly left a good impression. The Conservation Centre (not a conventional zoo) has lots of different animals i.e. skunks, lemurs, armadillos and the difference here is that as a junior zookeeper you get to spend one on one time with them, feeding them, cleaning out their enclosures and even giving them a Health Animal Check with a clipboard (with notes to fill in) and weighing the animal. This makes the experience very real. Our Zookeeper Jared was so knowledgeable and really made the day enjoyable, he made James feel very special. I couldn't have picked a better birthday gift and can thoroughly recommend this experience, where else can you get to feed meerkats, clean out the lemur enclosure and bring Gran along to thoroughly enjoy the experience too. Thank you Hemsley Conservation for the good work you are doing and especially to Jared for making the experience so real and fun, it really was an experience well worth doing and a memory to treasure for many years to come.

1  Thank MaidstoneGranny
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 March 2018 via mobile

Me and my boyfriend came here today and had an absolutely brilliant time! The staff really couldn’t do enough for us and there were many talks and interactions with the animals the whole time we were there. We loved our porcupine experience with Jared and loved all the knowledge he shared with us about all the animals here. We will definitely be returning and would advise anyone to go!

Thank Danielle M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 25 March 2018 via mobile

What a disappointment! The place is more like someone’s unfinished hobby in their back garden. The place was fairly quiet people wise yet there was little room in the few sheds there to watch the animals being fed. Animal enclosures very small. Website does not reflect the scale and degree of non completion evident upon arrival. The status of the site has not, by the sound of it, been confirmed by the council which is apparent and leads to poor signage and enormous potholes on lane to entrance. Also, no proper footpaths just a muddy trail. Poor value for money considering what was on offer. “Zoo” is tiny and takes a matter of minutes to walk around (can be completed within five minutes) would have asked for refund if we did not think the money was going towards the animals’ keep.

A trip to the nearby cafe was just as bad, staff were unfriendly and even though it was empty the lady refused to make beans on toast for the kids (as it was past 11.30) even though they were sitting there on their mobiles doing nothing when we arrived. Menus were dirty and place didn’t look very hygienic. Completely overpriced for what we received, sandwiches were full of butter and hardly any filling and cost more than a sandwich/coffee from Pret.

Would not recommend unless you want to spend £26 for a family of four for a five minute walk in the mud! Kids very disappointed.

4  Thank AllyL111
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
hccentre, Manager at Hemsley Conservation Centre, responded to this reviewResponded 26 March 2018

Hello “AllyL111”

There are a few points we would like to raise in response to your review -

From the comments you have made, as well as several made on the day, we are aware which day and time you visited and know that our competent staff spent time with you during talks and feeds (porcupine and loris in particular).
In regards to our size – we are new, continually growing zoo, in a state of expansion. Our animals have access to indoor and outdoor enclosures and their welfare in relation to enclosures, is, in contrary to your opinion, meeting and surpassing all of their welfare needs.
In regards to construction work, prior research in to our history would have uncovered that we are continually building and improving facilities. A member of staff would have been happy to discuss these with you.
We state on our website that we are a natural site (relating to pathways) and that we advise you come dressed appropriately.
Our website is completely transparent, and we do not advertise animals, exhibits or events that we do not have.
In response to your comments about us not being ‘confirmed’ by the council. I must fortunately tell you that this is incorrect. To operate a zoological institution in the UK, you must operate under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981, which is granted by the local licensing authority – in this case, our council. We also take part in regular inspections carried out by the council and a government appointed zoo vet.
In terms of value for money, many of our visitors stay for 2-2.5 hours and make the most of our free talks and encounters. A similar amount of time that you would spend at the cinema, for around double the price for a family.
Any works that need doing that is outside of our boundary such as pot holes, is unfortunately out of our control. In any instance, if you feel that the surrounding roads need work, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the correct personnel.

As you say you left feeling disappointed, it is also a shame that you did not raise these concerns with a member of staff. We could have had an in-depth conversation with you addressing your concerns and educated you about the day to day running’s of such an institution.
If you would like more information as to this, please do get in touch as we would be happy to talk with you.
We must also point out that reviewing another company (café) on our review site, is not in line wit this review sites rules and they will be contact appropriately. Should you have strong views on another company, please direct this towards their own page – or even better, get in touch with them to discuss.
Similarly, as you stated how you felt, we are also left disappointed, and bemused that anyone can leave an opinion on a review site. If your concerns were that strong, rather than doing this, you could have spoken with someone directly.


Best wishes,

Hemsley Conservation Centre

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