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  • Tracy Tristram

Fun days out with kids: Hopefield Animal Sanctuary in Essex

Hopefield Animal Sanctuary

We love a day out with the kids in all pockets of London town, but one of our faves happens to be not too far from London for Kidz HQ on the London/Essex border: Hopefield Animal Sanctuary. Cows, horses, pigs... you name it and you'll probably find it amongst the 100 species of animals you'll meet on this udderly lovely activity near London.

About Hopefield Animal Sanctuary

Hopefield Animal Sanctuary was founded in 1983 by the fabulous Paula and Ernie Clark after a ridiculously cold winter brought them news of ponies and cobs being abandoned by their owners on Rainham marshes. That was enough for them to take action and start helping animals that needed them, and now, nearly 40 years later, there are over 500 animals being cared for and nursed back to health over countryside covering 53 acres in Essex. Sadly, Paula lost her battle with cancer in September 2009 and Ernie passed away in September 2011, but their legacy is an amazing sanctuary that is not only giving animals in need the safety and help they need, but is also the most charming of places for families to visit and support.

What animals can we see at Hopefield Animal Sanctuary?

Hopefield Animal Sanctuary
Chewie and the rest of the Alpacas are not to be missed. Photography: London for Kidz

As soon as you pass through the gates into Hopefield Animal Sanctuary you'll be greeted by literally all creatures great and small. From Jack the Bull to Rocket the Tanuki, Chewie the Alpaca to Brian the Turtle, all the residents at Hopefield come with their own story - often a sad one - and it's just so overwhelmingly wonderful to see them thriving in their open spaces and cosy homes. Our fave? It's hard to pick but we do have a big soft spot for Lenny, Digby and Doris the Donkeys, Darwin the Rhea and May the Cat. There are so many furries, scalies and featheries to meet that you'll need a good couple of hours to get around and meet everyone! You'll find new friends including:

  • Reindeer

  • Raccoons

  • Alpacas

  • Palm Civet Cats

  • Rabbits

  • Guinea Pigs

  • Pigs

  • Sheep

  • Goats

  • Foxes

  • All kinds of birds

  • Reptiles

  • Horses

  • Ponies

  • Cows

  • Mongoose

  • Ferrets

  • Chinchillas

And many more (a large number of which you can sponsor!). Keep an eye out for the keepers too: they're without fail always happy to chat and tell you more about the animals they care for, and have some brilliant inside stories to tell you about the cheeky characters who live at Hopefield!

Is there somewhere to get food and drink at Hopefield?

Hopefield Animal Sanctuary
Treat yo'self to a delish slice (or two) of cake at Max's Cafe! Photography: Hopefield Animal Sanctuary

Max's Cafe is named after Max the Bull, saved from the diary industry where he was going to be killed for being a boy, so makes the perfect mascot for the plant-based café. It's takeaway only at the mo, but there are plenty of outdoor seating areas as well as a marquee to bring your food (and picnics) to. Our kids love sitting on the hay bales in the field for their snacks, and there's plenty for room for a game of football in that area too.

All the deets

Hopefield Animal Sanctuary
Smiles all round when you visit Hopefield! Photography: London for Kidz

Where: Sawyers Hall Lane, Brentwood, Essex CM15 9BZ

When: Its reopening on 28th March 2022.

Tickets: Pre-booking online is not essential but recommended (and will get you a discount). Ticket prices: Adult - £7.00 (£6.50 online), Child (2-15) - £6.00 (£5.50 online), Concession - £6.00 (£5.50 online), Family Ticket - £22.00 (£20.00 online). All entrance fees go directly to the sanctuary and are used towards the continuous care and support of the animals. Well behaved dogs on leads also welcome!

Top image: London for Kidz

Like this story? Here are some more you might find useful:

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Don't forget to also follow us for more adventures and things to do in London with kids over on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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