We were very exited to be invited by The Monkey Sanctuary to spend the day at their centre. We got to learn more about their monkeys and the amazing work they do. We had hoped to visit on a sunny day, and although the sun was out when we left home, the rain and mist appeared just as we reached Looe - not that it dampened our spirits!
We arrived at lunch time, and the first thing we saw as we parked up is this amazing Treetop Cafe!
This really is a beatiful place to stop for a drink or bite to eat. They aim to be as ethical and resourceful as possible, which includes being a meat free establishment! There is a great menu of vegetarian and vegan meals and snacks, something I enjoyed about living in Brightron, but don't see very much in Cornwall.
As the name suggests, the cafe really is up in the rooftop of the trees, with a lovely view looking down over the hill. We could just catch a glimpse of the sea through the weather and can imagine how beautiful it would be in summer.
The food was reasonably priced, and absolutely delicious. My soup was full of flavour, and the Zebra loved her 'chicken' nuggets so much she ate the whole plate! We also had a scrummy carrot and lemon cake for pudding.
With our tummies full, we start the short walk down to the sanctuary. Again, the views are beautiful! The location is not just a sanctuary for the monkeys, but the broadleaf woods are a haven for many local animals, butterflies, insects and plants. They are committed to helping the flora and fauna floursh, many of which are threatened locally.
Once we arrived we were very exited to start seeing the monkeys! They are such happy, curious animals, and even in the cold weather many ventured out to get a closer look at us and play in their large well kept enclosures.
As we walked around, we were greeted by friendly keepers who were happy to talk about the animals and answer any questions we had. To be honest, every single member of staff we spoke to was friendly and up beat, giving a great atmosphere to our day.
The sanctuary is not a breeding centre, but a happy home for monkeys, many who have not had he best start in life. It really is sad to think of these beautiful animals being kept as pets in tiny cages by people who just don't understand their needs.
We was surprised to see one very young monkey, Lily, who is just over a year old. Even with the strict no-breeding policy (and the female monkeys being on contraception) it seems "Happy Accidents" really can happen to anyone...
Obviously monkeys live in the trees and love to climb and explore. The centre is on many levels going up the side of the cliff so there are lots of runs and bridges for the monkeys to move between their cages. Although this is lovely for them, it may be difficult for a pushchair, so I recommend a sling or carrier for any babies.
The enclosures are clean, large and full of ropes and activities for the monkeys to enjoy. They also have inside homes which are heated to keep them snuggled and warn through our winter.
Although some parts of the homes look like they are strewn with rubbish, these are actually specially chosen items for the monkeys to play and engage with.
This was all explained in the education room!
Also in the room was lots more information on conservation and why and how we need to protect monkeys.
The sanctuary gives visitors an opportunity to sponsor thier own monkey - something the wonderful Stephen Fry has done! There is a short film explain his involvement as well as the sad story behind his adopted monkey Joey.
Underneath the monkey house, deep in the cellar, is the home of a colony of horseshoe bats. They are an endangered species, only found in the southwest of England and parts of Wales, so it's great to see thier home being protected here in Cornwall. Obviously, it would upset and disturb them if visitors constantly poked around thier dark, home, so instead there is a bat room. In here are the controls for the the CCTV which we could use to move the cameras and watch the animals.
As we wondered around, it was great to see some workshop activities for the children. There are also lovely spots to sit and watch the monkeys - and I imagine the views would also be amazing in the sunshine!
The Zebra was also delighted to find the activity room. It is a bright, colourful rainforest themed building with lots to do. There were three big tables full of arts and craft projects with a wonderful array of materials and instructions. There was a cosy corner perfect for smaller ones and babies to play, as well as sensory smell & touch games.
We only had time for a quick play as the rain really started to come in, but the outside play area is fantastic! There is also a smaller frame for the younger ones, but the Zebra was adamant she wanted mummy to help her climb this one!
When we return, we can't wait to explore the grounds and trails around the sanctuary, hopefully getting to spot some butterflies, bugs and maybe animals...
Tickets into the sanctury allows for free re-entry for 12 months, and we will most certainly be returning soon - whatever the weather!
For more information, and to buy your tickets, please see their website or check out the Facebook page: