Published: 20:17, 02 April 2021
| Updated: 10:18, 06 April 2021
Two popular wild animal parks are set to welcome guests back when lockdown restrictions are eased later this month.
A strictly limited number of day tickets will be available and guests must reserve a slot in advance. Port Lympne's safari experience will not be running and catering outlets will be operating on a takeaway only or alfresco dining basis.
Accommodation at Port Lympne will also be available, with bookings covered by a Covid guarantee.
Between the parks there are 900 animals to meet.
Howletts is home to the UK’s largest herd of African elephants, including three adorable babies named Nusu, Oku and Nguvu. Visitors can also meet the UK’s only honey badger, Kent’s only giant anteaters and - of course - visitor favorite Arina the tigress.
Port Lympne and Howletts’ managing director, Tony Kelly commented: “After three long months of winter lockdown, we are excited to welcome guests back to Port Lympne and Howletts. Our wildlife parks are the largest in Kent, offering huge amounts of outdoor space to explore and enjoy.
"We are closely monitoring government guidelines and hope to extend our remaining services as and when we are allowed.”
While Port Lympne was in lockdown, three lion cubs were born there, the first in more than 10 years.
Lioness Oudrika went into labour, watched by 22,000 people who logged on to watch a live feed through the park's cameras.
Sadly, only one survives after one died in the night and another of the cubs wandered outside during freezing temperatures and 'succumbed to the elements very quickly'.
Speaking ahead of the park's reopening, a Port Lympne spokesman said: "The team have been hard at work preparing all 600 acres of Port Lympne to ensure that you can enjoy a fun day out in the stunning Kent countryside.
"Our beautiful reserve is the largest in Kent, offering huge amounts of outdoor space to explore and enjoy.
"We take the safety of our guests, animals and staff very seriously and have taken extensive measures following the latest government advice regarding Covid-19, to ensure that your visit is safe and enjoyable."
Bosses at the reserve and its sister site at Howletts in Canterbury had previously appealed for volunteers to help get the parks ready in time for the reopening.
To book tickets, click here.