Monkey world in Dorset


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The rolling hills and lush woodlands of Dorset are home to many wild animals. Deer, hare, rabbits and... chimpanzees! Yes, along with 19 other primate species, some 59 chimpanzees call Dorset - or to be more precise, Monkey World – Ape Rescue Centre – home.

More than 250 primates are currently resident at the rescue centre, set amid 65 acres of verdant natural woodland.


Monkey World was started by Jim Cronin in 1987 to give abused chimpanzees in Spain a safe, stable and permanent home where they would be looked after and treated with dignity and respect.


Sadly, Jim died in 2007, but his vision and his valuable work has been continued by his wife, Dr Alison Cronin. 

Alison now runs Monkey World with a dedicated team of conservation professionals. They work tirelessly to meet the financial requirements needed to ensure they can rescue more and more primates and provide a sanctuary for them. Monkey World works with foreign governments to halt the illegal smuggling of apes out of Africa and Asia.


The centre offers a truly immersive, fun and educational day out for visitors of all ages. The team have rescued primates from 23 different countries around the world, including Greece, Austria, Holland, Mexico, Taiwan, Israel, Cyprus and Dubai where, sadly, they were either laboratory testing animals, exotic pets, or often abused for the entertainment industry. 


But today, visitors to the park are able to see them happy and thriving under the ceaseless care of Monkey World’s experienced staff.


The park is home to three groups of orang-utans, including two species -  Bornean and a Sumatran orang-utans. Monkey World also holds Europe’s only official orang-utan Crèche, and is currently working as part of the European Endangered Species Programme, breeding Bornean orang-utans, woolly monkeys and golden-cheeked gibbons.


There are twelve different species of monkeys and prosimians at the centre, from ring-tailed lemurs, to ruffed lemurs, squirrel monkeys, capuchin monkeys, woolly monkeys, common marmosets, a Geoffroy’s marmoset, stump-tailed macaques, patas monkeys, spider monkeys, cotton-top tamarin and a white faced saki monkey. They live alongside five species of gibbon and, of course, the orang-utans and chimpanzees!


Unsurprisingly, with a family as large as this to look after, the costs of providing quality, lasting care are high. The park operates an adoption scheme that helps to raise some of the necessary funds. The scheme includes
free admission to the park for a year. But for Monkey World and its growing number of inhabitants to survive, the continued assistance from supporters and visitors alike is invaluable.


Initiatives like Adopt a Primate and the Shoebox Appeal (where visitors can fill a shoebox with treats for the primates) are
great ways to get involved and help make a difference. For donation ideas, visit


So why not head for Wareham and pay a visit to some of our closest animal relatives? It’s a great day out and always keeps visitors coming back for more!


Open every day, except Christmas Day 10am to 5pm. Open 10am to 6pm during July & August. Last entry is one hour before closing.

Tel No: +44 (0) 1929 462537