Two weekends ago we were undecided what to do with ourselves on the Saturday. We generally only plan something for Saturday as Sunday involves swimming followed by brunch and BattleKid’s nap. We didn’t want to stay indoors if it was dry out but couldn’t make our minds up. We had an early enough breakfast and afterwards we were upstairs, me starting to clear my office desk, BattleDad and BattleKid watching bike videos together on YouTube. BattleDad decided “that’s it, we’re going out” so I stopped mid-cleaning and we got ourselves dressed and headed for the Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary.
The Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary lies a few miles off the A465 from Glyn-neath and is exactly as it sounds; a sanctuary for apes and monkeys of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds.
We arrived within 30 minutes of leaving the house and BattleDad went to pay in the office as I sat in the car with a snoozing BattleKid. BattleDad came back with our receipt, parking ticket, a book about the monkeys at the sanctuary and a small monkey teddy for BattleKid. He woke up after and we asked if he wanted a surprise, not that he knows what one is.
We started off with the left hand enclosures from the car park and saw a variety of monkeys including Gibbon, Baboons, Spider Monkeys and Lemurs.
On one enclosure we saw one monkey race over to another and give it a hug. I even caught it on video. It was very sweet. BattleKid was mesmerised, as he loves monkeys from his obsession with Curious George! We didn’t bring BattleKid’s buggy and instead let him walk around at his own pace. He enjoyed it and all we could hear was “oh monkey, wow, monkey”.
On the right hand side of the car park was an area of enclosures which housed two wolves and the chimpanzees, separately of course. The chimps were hilarious. One in particular was blowing raspberries as we got around to him and he then proceeded to mimic the actions another visitor was doing. No wonder they are considered our closest relatives in the animal world. When we passed him for a second time he’d wrapped himself in a purple blanket!
We only spent about an hour to an hour and a half there but BattleKid thoroughly enjoyed it. I can see us visiting many more times in the future as BattleKid gets older.
The Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary is open throughout the year from 10.30 to dusk and costs £6.50 per adult, £3.95 for 3-14 year old while under 3’s are free. You can get yearly passes too. There is a charity shop on site, you can sponsor an animal for a year from £30 and you can even be a keeper for a day for £100. For this you get to accompany regular keepers as they feed, clean and look after the animals. I’ll definitely let BattleKid do this when he’s older if he wants. I might even join him!
The Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary is not very big but there does seem to be signs of expansion plans in place. There’s a good variety of monkeys to see and it’s really nice knowing they’ve been saved from an uncertain fate due to various circumstances like zoo closures or sold as pets in the Far East. Many of these animals may have been put to sleep or used as laboratory subjects if Jan and Graham Garen hadn’t rescued them and brought them to South Wales.
So if you are based in or are visiting South Wales, especially with animal mad little ones, why not check out the Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary for a family day out.
*I was not asked to write this post.