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Marwell Zoo – Making learning fun

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In this blog, Zoologist and Winchester ambassador, Sophie Whitemore shares how Marwell makes learning fun.

Okay, I might be a bit biased, having practically grown up at Marwell – from school trips to family adventures and now working in our conservation team. But trust me, Marwell isn’t just a place for kids; it’s a haven for the young-at-heart of all ages.

Let’s rewind to those early school trips, back when I was knee-high, possibly just in Year R. Marwell Zoo wasn’t just a day out; it was THE day out. Imagine the thrill of sprinting in and being greeted by penguins in their fancy dinner jackets, twirling and diving through the water. A leisurely stroll past the pink flamingos straight out of a ‘Barbie’ set, and up the hill to the regal giraffes, towering above us.giraffe

Even now, it’s a bit surreal having lunch with tigers prowling nearby or hearing our snow leopard’s calls as I step in and out of my car. But my personal favourite? A visit to the giraffe house, where I’m unfailingly inspected by our sassiest giraffe, Christa, who gives me the once-over before disdainfully strutting away.

Where else can you snag experiences like these? Marwell isn’t just a zoo; it’s a VIP pass to encounter animals that are genuine privileges to see. Take the Partula snail, for example – extinct in the wild and found only at Marwell. The story behind this snail is one of my favourites, and any team member can spin you the captivating yarn. Then there’s Swamper, our Utilla Spiny-Tailed Iguana, one of a mere 70 in captivity, with his wild species numbering only around 200 – and you can spot him right here in Winchester!

penguin feedingTrips to Marwell laid the groundwork for my passion for the natural world. Today, what we offer kids far surpasses my experiences from 20-odd years ago. Our dedicated team of educators makes learning a thrilling adventure for all ages, from 2 to 18. The brilliant guest experience team and our dedicated band of volunteers are always around to answer your questions – the stranger, the better. And what’s more we showcase our daily animal feeds where you can learn titbits from our keepers directly.

Every chat with someone on the team reveals something new, and here’s a little secret: even though I work at Marwell, I still learn something fresh every time I speak to a fellow team member. So, I dare you – come experience Marwell, and try to leave without adding a nugget of newfound knowledge to your treasure trove.

Marwell isn’t just a zoo; it’s a journey into wonder, inviting out the child in each one of us.


The Winchester Ambassadors are a group of volunteers who enjoy sharing their passion for their city. They were assembled to provide visitors with a local’s view of the city and its attractions. Their thoughts, insights and tips are independent and are not paid for. The Winchester Ambassadors are not affiliated with any of the brands or businesses mentioned in their posts or endorsed by Winchester City Council.