We visited Trentham Monkey Forest as our 2 hours stop to our staycation in the Lake District. Nestled within an ancient Staffordshire forest, Trentham Monkey Forest serves as a sanctuary for 140 free-roaming Barbary macaques. These Barbary macaques, classified as endangered by the IUCN Red List due to habitat loss and illegal pet trade, find refuge here. The Monkey Forest strives to provide a distinctive, informative, and educational experience for visitors while raising awareness about the conservation of these endangered species. The blend of fun and education makes it an exceptional family day out.
Upon arrival, we collected a map from the reception and embarked on our exploration. The initial section of the attraction is monkey-free, offering a spacious outdoor picnic area, a welcoming café, and a central playground. A hidden trail and an engaging play area lie to the left, and an open building screens a film about the monkeys, their natural habitat, and life in the wild.
It is only when you enter the forest that monkeys cross your path. Yes, you heard that right. When you enter the forest, the monkeys are free to move around as they choose. It is actually so nice to see them in a natural surrounding instead of in cages like other zoos and animal parks. For me, though, the biggest question was, are they friendly?
Having encountered some mischievous monkeys in the past, I was a bit apprehensive about being around them again if I am totally honest. Memories of the car wipers being nibbled on and stealing food from our hands were vivid. However, the monkeys at Trentham turned out to be quite the opposite. They’re obviously regularly fed so they were not approaching visitors for food. In fact Food is not allowed inside and it is strictly forbidden to feed them. Even though the monkeys were free roaming, they actually maintained a comfortable distance away from us and if they did happen to cross paths, their behaviour was entirely non-aggressive. Moreover, there were numerous staff members ready to warn you that they are about to cross the path, ensuring that you don’t get too close. Perfect!
Observing them in their natural habitat was truly captivating. We marveled at a mere four-week-old infant playfully perched atop its mother, showcasing the tender parent-offspring bond. The staff proved exceptionally friendly and knowledgeable, willingly sharing insights. They informed us that nine baby monkeys had been born this year. Babies are born in the spring and early summer with DARKER fur than the adults. They start to lose their dark fur after 1.5 months which is gradually replaced by brown fur. It takes them up to 10 days to start walking/climbing. Within their first 2 years of life they are still socially dependent on their mother and she will provide protection, warmth and comfort.
Among the bustling troop, we noticed another young monkey, cautiously testing its climbing and swinging abilities. From bravely conquering a fallen log to confidently maneuvering a low-hanging branch, the progression was evident. Hierarchy dynamics were also apparent, with instances of monkeys jostling for position or being driven away by more senior counterparts. A knowledgeable staff member pointed out the enclosure’s highest-ranked monkey and highlighted how the female with a newborn strategically navigated around him, protected due to her maternal status.
The pinnacle of the experience arrived when a lively troop of younger monkeys burst onto the scene, engaging in an exhilarating game of chase. They effortlessly swung through the trees, gracefully leaping down from the top (to the gasps of all watchers), and indulged in spirited play fights. The spectacle was utterly captivating.
Feeding zones with clearly marked feeding times are situated within the park. Staff members come on specific times to provide a diverse diet, including apples, melons, and, of course, bananas. The feeding talks lasted about 10-15 minutes and were really informative. The monkeys also forage in the vegetation and snack on insects they find around the park, a natural behavior observed throughout the park. You will see some monkeys just casually relaxing, others grooming each other, many others high up on the trees.
There were also boards all around the forest with further information about these monkeys and their behaviour, and other ones with multichoice answer questions where you lift up a flap to find the answer. Did you know that the monkeys live in the open all year around as they originate from the mountains of Morocco and Algeria where winters are cold? Barbary Macaques sleep sitting upright perched in high trees where they are safe from predators! Yup, we did learn a fair bit during our visit.
The amount of time you’ll spend here depends on your engagement in other activities during your visit. Covering a distance of under a mile, the forest is in a valley with a slightly steep hill, but overall the entire route offers a relatively undemanding stroll and is buggy accessible. There are wooden benches dotted all around the walk to rest and take a break. The primary loop itself is likely to take about 30-45 minutes to complete, but throw in additional time for observing the feeding sessions and participating in the engaging discovery workshops. You can walk around as many times as you want during your visit.
Trentham Monkey Forest offers a unique experience which I highly recommend if you are in the area. As you wander along forest paths and marvel at these marvellous creatures, their playful antics will both warm your heart and enhance your knowledge. It’s an opportunity to learn, appreciate, and connect with nature and these remarkable creatures.
You can combine it with a visit to the TRENTHAM ESTATE. We could not explore more due to time constraints but it looked interesting enough. The estate visit has to be booked separately; Visitors to Trentham Monkey Forest receive 10% off Trentham Gardens tickets. There is also Treetop Adventure course right next door if you have the time.
🗺 Address: Trentham Estate, Stone Rd, Tittensor, Stoke-on-Trent ST12 9HR
🎟 Entrance FEE applies: If you pay at the gate then adult tickets are £11.50 and kids are £9.50 (Children under 2 – free). Please see updated prices HERE
🚘 FREE parking
🍕 Banana cafe on site- Menu and more information HERE
🚻 Toilets and baby facilities
🧺 Picnic allowed. Please note, that food is strictly prohibited in the monkey enclosure but there are many picnic benches outside.
🦽 Buggy accessible. Please read full accessibility information HERE
🐕 Dogs are not permitted
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