The Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens near Burford in Oxfordshire, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and continues to inspire future generations.
The Park was the brainchild of one man, John Heyworth, who wanted to rescue the decaying Manor House and parkland he grew up in. With the help of gardeners and keepers he turned a bramble-strewn wilderness into a beautiful zoological collection. Over the past five decades, millions of visitors have enjoyed the beauty of nature at the park.
What makes the Cotswold Wildlife Park stand out is its glorious gardens, which were recently featured on BBC’s Gardeners’ World. Presenter Adam Frost praised the gardens and found out about surprising planting schemes designed with animals in mind.
Another fan is renowned gardener Roy Lancaster who has visited the park on numerous occasions and has donated to the ever-growing collection of unusual and exotic specimens at the park.
“The variety of plants in the Park is extraordinary…the combination of exotic animals and flora has achieved a near perfect balance”.
Gardener Roy Lancaster, CBE
The gardens make a beautiful backdrop to the 260 different species of animals to see, from leaf-cutter ants in the Insect House to the White Rhinos in their huge enclosure in front of the Victorian gothic Manor House. The parkland’s trees and imaginative plantings blur the boundaries between the enclosures and the paths, giving a natural feel to the wildlife park, without large fences to obstruct your views.
In the summer months the Old Walled Garden is a particular highlight for visitors, including the arid beds around the Meerkat enclosure filled with succulents and numerous huge cacti, which echo their natural desert habitat.
The Tropical House is a riot of exotic planting with free-flying tropical birds, sleepy sloths, potoroos and bats.
This beautiful landscape is not only filled with animals for all ages to enjoy, whatever the season, but also a level wheelchair friendly site with excellent paths and benches dotted throughout, from which to enjoy the vistas and relax with nature.