By Caroline Saunders

Wild animals loose near Ashurst, Hampshire.
But don't worry we were visiting the New Forest Wildlife Park (NFWP), home to the European wolf, bison and the endangered giant otter from South America. There were also 12 species of owl, beautifully coloured tropical butterflies and even a lynx.
“The four month old albino wallaby is particularly rare and we have one here,” says one of the dedicated and informative keepers, during the trip with baby daughter Harriett and my parents.
We were also lucky enough to see a joey showing his head from his mother’s pouch. “Breeding and rehabilitation are our specialities,” she added. “Sometimes injured or orphaned birds such as Tawny owls that have fallen from their nests, are brought in by the general public. They are nurtured and then released into the wild.”
Did you know an owl is capable of killing a fox? I didn’t until my visit. A wallaby provides two different types of milk for her young depending on their age.  Newts eat tadpoles. A fox emits a foul smelling odour when marking their territory. In fact my family and I came away with a whole fact file, great for wowing guests at a dinner party. 
The park is a manageable size for a family with woody tracks, allowing visitors to explore for the whole day at a relaxing pace. We meandered through the heated butterfly house, wildlife pools and past the wallaby wood to the deer meadow and owlery. The freely roaming animals must be very happy in this natural environment in the heart of the New Forest.
Rhododendrons provided a wall of purple cutting through the tall pine trees. There was a woody scent and birdsong from the wild birds. Baby Harriett enjoyed being greeted by the tame deer. They were so friendly and enjoyed a good tickle between the ears.
Guaranteed to amuse you for hours there is a brilliant Go Wild adventure army style playground designed for adults and children aged six and above. My 76-year-old dad had a great time on the novel rope roundabout. There was also a climbing bridge and a death slide but he didn’t venture that far.
Birthday parties for little ones are no longer a problem either because it is possible to book a Wildlife Birthday party, which includes a special guided tour.
It is even possible to adopt an animal.
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