A Day at Monkey World Dorset

For 2019 we’ve created a list of 100 things to do this year. The idea is that we’d spend more time as a family together and also get us all away from screens. The list involved things to do and one of them was to Visit Monkey World Dorset. This is a place we’ve wanted to visit for a long time so we set the wheels in motion.

Over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend, the girl’s school had an inset day on Friday so we travelled down to Dorset on Thursday afternoon. A little Premier Inn hotel was booked for a few nights and a weekend break was scheduled.

We stayed nearby to Monkey World in a place called Hole’s Bay which is about 15 minutes from Wareham where Monkey World is located.

We headed off to Monkey World after breakfast on Friday and as we arrived in the car park just before the opening time of 10 am there were just a few cars there. This was exactly the reason why we made the effort of going on a school inset day. Without having to queue we paid our entrance fee which for a family of 4 was £42 and that seemed like a good price these days for entry to anywhere.

We felt like we had the whole place to ourselves and it allowed us to spend as much time as we wanted to explore and to watch the various monkeys.

My wife watched the TV show Monkey Business back in the early 2000s which focused on the work they do at the centre and also around the World. There were a few names that jumped out at her from the show and it was lovely to see they were still doing well.

As mentioned the park was pretty much empty while we walked around and as it was a dry sunny day all the monkeys were enjoying the fresh air. A couple of them were relaxing or eating inside their homes but nearly all of them were outside and came up to the protective glass.

Going to zoos and animal parks are something of a tricky subject, for some, it’s a no-no and animals shouldn’t be kept locked up. I completely get that and we’ve been to a few zoos where the enclosures are small and the animals don’t look happy.

For us, the difference is that Monkey World is a Primate Ape Rescue Centre and they make it very clear they’re not a zoo. They work in conjunction with foreign governments from all over the world to stop the illegal smuggling of apes out of Africa and Asia.

This was a full-on family day out but it was also a great opportunity to get some photos but it’s often not the easiest thing to achieve. You’ve got people to watch out for, either fences or glass to shoot through and various lighting changes to deal with. Plus tripods aren’t allowed so it’s hand-held all the way.

I’ll give my tips on this which may help next time for you.

I had two lenses with me, a 24-85mm and a 70 - 200mm and I swapped them during the course of the day. I could have probably used the 70 - 200 for most of the day but there were a few chances to get a bit closer. When you have to deal with the glass get as close as you possibly can, this cuts the reflections down and a clearer shot.

For me the background is the most off-putting thing about animal photos, I have found that cropping right in can help this out. That way things like the keepers, crowds and just mess doesn’t take away from the photo. Also as always try and shoot at a low ISO and if the animals are moving you’ll need a quicker shutter speed so keep that in mind.

It really was a wonderful day out, the gift shop was well stocked and not overly expensive, the cafe that we ate in had a good choice of hot and cold food. To break up the day there was also a few play parks, a woodland walk and other activities to fill the day.

To end this I’ll share some other photos from Monkey World that don’t just feature the gorgeous monkeys.