Stacey loves monkeys, so I (Joel) booked her a surprise visit to Trentham Monkey Forest. It’s a pretty unique place because it’s the only place in the UK where you can walk among the monkeys. The monkeys in question are Barbary macaques, which I’ve come into contact with previously in Gibraltar. Thankfully, these are far more relaxed and much less mischievous, on the whole!
Trentham Monkey Forest is a wildlife park located near Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire and is home to over 140 Barbary macaques, also known as the Barbary apes, which are native to the pine forests of the Atlas and Rif Mountains between Morocco and Algeria in north Africa. The monkeys roam freely in a beautiful 60-acre forested park, allowing you to experience an up-close and personal encounter with these fascinating primates.
In this post, we’ll explore the park’s history, the Barbary macaques that call it home, and what you can expect from a day there, so read on to discover everything you need to know about Trentham Monkey Forest and what makes it such a unique destination.
Trentham Monkey Forest
Trentham Monkey Forest is located within the Trentham Estate, which offers a few other attractions besides the Monkey Forest. It’s a vast, 725-acre site with loads on offer, including Trentham Gardens, Trentham Shopping Village, and Trentham Treetop Adventures. So, if you want to make more of a day of it than just visiting Trentham Monkey Forest, there are loads of other things to keep you occupied, whether that’s a bit of shopping or something a bit more adrenaline-fuelled like the Treetop Adventure.
But Trentham Monkey Forest is interesting enough to keep you occupied for a few hours because it’s a unique and unforgettable experience for anyone of any age, especially if you love animals. Observing the Barbary macaques in a relatively natural setting is pretty cool, given you won’t get to do this anywhere else unless you want to fly to Gibraltar, of course! There are educational talks and activities to provide a deeper understanding of the park and its conservation efforts, too.
History of Trentham Monkey Forest
So, how did it all begin? Trentham Monkey Forest was established in 2005 by Jimmie Chipperfield, a renowned animal trainer and circus performer. The park was designed to be a natural environment where the Barbary macaques could live as close to their natural habitat as possible. Although the climates are somewhat different between the UK and north Africa, the macaques are used to harsh winters and hot summers, so their environment at Trentham is okay for them. Today, the park is owned and managed by the Trentham Estate.
The Barbary Macaques of Trentham
Now on to the star attraction of Trentham Monkey Forest, the Barbary macaques! Around 140 of the little monkeys are knocking around the enclosure, with up to six generations. Looking closely at the picture below, you might even spot what we think is a tattoo. We wonder if they tattoo them to keep track of which is which.
Anyway, once you step inside the forest enclosure, you can walk along the paths and watch the monkeys playing, lazing and scoffing their faces. The monkeys are accustomed to humans and are often curious about us, but it’s worth noting you are not allowed to feed or touch the monkeys or even get too close to them. There are monkey police on patrol to make sure you keep your distance. Sadly, the monkey police aren’t monkeys in high-vis jackets with batons, but that would be something, wouldn’t it?
The monkey police are the friendly and helpful staff; you’ll be glad to know. But don’t let this put you off. You can get plenty close enough to enjoy them and watch their interesting and funny behaviour. The younger ones are exceptionally playful, curious, fun and entertaining to watch. In fact, they are like human kids used to be before the iPad ruined human interaction.
The monkeys are fed every hour from 11:15 at one of the feeding stations, which presents an excellent opportunity to listen to the staff and learn about macaque monkeys in the park and a few facts and figures about them in the wild. Trentham Monkey Forest also offers a range of educational talks and activities for you to get involved in. These include discussions on the history of the park and the biology of the macaques, as well as guided walks through the forest. There are also interactive exhibits where you can learn more about the monkeys and their habitat, and there are one or two kiosks where staff tell you more bits and pieces about the monkeys.
The Natural Environment of Trentham Monkey Forest
The park is designed to replicate the natural environment of the Barbary macaques. The forest is dense with trees and vegetation, and the macaques can roam as they please. You can stroll along the forest paths and observe the monkeys from various viewpoints.
And Trentham Monkey Forest is more than just a fun day out; it’s also committed to conservation efforts to protect the Barbary macaque population, which is endangered. The park works closely with the Barbary Macaque Awareness and Conservation charity to support conservation efforts in North Africa. You can learn more about the conservation efforts at the park and how they can contribute to the cause.
Cafes & Picnic Areas
You’ll be glad to know Trentham Monkey Forest has a cafe where you can get your fill of scran or caffeine fix. The food is relatively expensive for what it is, but if you’d prefer to bring your own food to save a few pennies (or pounds, these days), there are plenty of picnic benches around the place.
Opening Times & Prices
The Monkley Forest isn’t open all year, and the opening times are among the most complex we’ve ever seen. It closes down during the winter months between November and February. Once it re-opens, it’s only open on weekends until the end of March. Then the closing times change, month dependant. Look at the official website for the latest opening times and prices.
There is also a range of prices, including advance online, pay on the day and one-year membership. It’s cheaper to buy online in every case, and it’s worth noting carers and children under two are free.
Helpful Tips When Visiting Trentham Monkey Forest
To make the most of your visit to Trentham Monkey Forest, here are some helpful tips:
- Wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking on uneven terrain.
- Bring a camera to capture the incredible sights and experiences.
- Follow the park’s guidelines for interacting with the macaques and other wildlife.
- Arrive early to avoid crowds and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.
- Take advantage of the educational talks and activities to learn more about the park and the macaques.
How to Get There
Trentham Monkey Forest is easily accessible by car and public transport. The park is just off the A34, and ample parking is available, which is also free. Driving is the easiest option. The nearest train station is Stoke-on-Trent, with regular buses from the station to the park. It’ll take 40-50 minutes to get from the train station by bus, with a change at Trentham Estate.
💷 Paid entry
Trentham Monkey Forest is a must-visit destination if you’re an animal lover. The park offers a fascinating insight into the world of the Barbary macaques and the conservation efforts, all in a peaceful and beautiful setting for you to enjoy. Whether you’re a family looking for a fun day out or a solo traveller seeking a unique experience, Trentham Monkey Forest and its inhabitants will delight you and no doubt the monkeys’ playful antics will bring a smile to your face.
Barbary Macaque Facts
- Barbary Macaque monkeys, also known as Barbary apes, are the only species native to Europe. They are found in the wild only in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and Algeria.
- Gibraltar is home to the only wild Barbary Macaque monkeys in Europe.
- Barbary Macaque monkeys are among the most social monkey species, living in large groups, including over 100 individuals. Within these groups, they have complex social hierarchies and engage in various behaviours, such as grooming and playing.
- These monkeys are known for their distinctive appearance, with their dark fur and pale faces. They also have a distinct tail, which is shorter than their body and not prehensile.
- Barbary Macaque monkeys are omnivores and eat various foods, including fruits, insects, and small animals. In some areas, they have become habituated to human presence and have been known to scavenge for food in towns and cities.
- Barbary Macaque monkeys are considered endangered, with only a few thousand individuals left in the wild. One of the biggest threats to their survival is habitat loss, as their natural forest habitat is being destroyed for agriculture and development. Conservation efforts are crucial to ensure the survival of this unique species.
Is Trentham Monkey Forest worth visiting?
100% yes! It’s a great experience and a very unique one in the UK, and certainly worth the ticket price. You’ll enjoy the peaceful surrounding and the mischievous macaques, learn a lot, and contribute to the conservation efforts of Trentham Monkey Forest.
Are the macaques dangerous?
While the macaques are wild animals, they are generally safe if you follow the park’s guidelines for interacting with them.
Can I feed the macaques?
No, you are not allowed to feed the macaques as it can disrupt their natural behaviour and harm their health.
How long does a visit to the park usually take?
Typically, it’ll take you two to three hours to explore the park and observe the macaques.
Can I bring my dog to the park?
Dogs are not allowed in the park as they can disrupt the macaques and other wildlife.
Is there a gift shop at the park?
Yes, there is a gift shop where you can purchase souvenirs and gifts related to the Barbary macaques and the park.
Is there a cafe at Trentham Monkey Forest?
Yes, there is a cafe at the park where you can enjoy refreshments and snacks. The cafe offers a range of options.
Where can I see monkeys in the UK?
Trentham Monkey Forest is the only place in the UK you can walk amongst monkeys.
Trentham Monkey Forest
- Trentham Monkey Forest
- History of Trentham Monkey Forest
- The Barbary Macaques of Trentham
- The Natural Environment of Trentham Monkey Forest
- Cafes & Picnic Areas
- Opening Times & Prices
- Helpful Tips When Visiting Trentham Monkey Forest
- How to Get There
- Barbary Macaque Facts
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