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If you have animal lovers in the family, there are plenty of farms in Suffolk and the surrounding areas that are open for family visits. However, one that is unlike any other, with rare breeds and several child-friendly additions, is Jimmy's Farm and Wildlife Park. From meeting dinosaurs to hanging out with crocodiles or capybara, there's something for reptile lovers and fluffy fans alike. Originally opening as a rare-breed pig farm by Jimmy Doherty and his company The Essex Pig Company, the process was documented by the BBC in the series 'Jimmy's Farm' in 2004. The farm is now home to a whole host of new exotic farm animals, as well as a Butterfly House, WonderWood play area and you can even get a chance to cuddle the animals!
With over 80 different species of animal to meet on site, including rare breeds, Jimmy's Farm Ipswich is a fantastic day out to help kids learn about wildlife and animals in a hands-on way. From the three reindeer on site: Dolph, Rowan and Mistletoe, to smelly striped skunks and Alice and Arthur the Bactrian camels, this is a farm day out with a touch of the exotic. You'll also have a chance to meet rare sheep, such as Somali Black-Headed sheep and fluffy Cameroon sheep, that look nothing like the species we are used to in the UK. Teddy, the tapir, is also a popular fixture, and you can meet him and learn all about the special exotic animals at the farm at the daily keeper talks.
In the Outback Safari area, you'll also be able to meet some of our Aussie pals, from wallabies to emus, who like to wander the large open enclosure. And, to meet some animal pals close up, there are lots of farm animals such as ducks, goats, chickens, ponies, guinea pigs and more, who kids can feed and even cuddle! Animal petting is available every weekend and during school holidays, where kids can meet and pet their favourite animals. And, for a special visit to remember, the farm also offers Close Encounters experiences, in which you can join an experienced park keeper inside the animal enclosures, and learn how to feed, train and care for them. This is a great idea for birthday gifts, or for an educational experience for kids who are passionate about animal care.
Since the farm is owned by Jimmy's own Essex Pig Company, the rare pig breeds aren't to be missed on your trip. From the Large Black pigs, which are the only all-black species of pig in the UK, to the beautiful ginger Tamworth pigs, you'll be able to meet many different species who call the farm home. Plus, keep an eye out for the Mangalitsa Pig, which is the only type of pig to have curly fluffy hair!
For something different, head to the Reptile House where you can meet tegus, tortoises and snakes. And, for the fearless among you, meet the Morelet's Crocodile that calls Jimmy's Farm home. There is also an aviary attached to the Reptile House, where you can see lots of different birds flying above. For fans of birds and wildlife, the Butterfly House is also a great option. Here, you can explore as butterflies fly around you, from large owl butterflies to beautiful swallowtails. Plus, you might even spot some insects, such as African land snails and giant train millipedes.
As well as having lots of different animals for kids to meet and keeper talks at various times through the day, days out at Jimmy's Farm also include lots of extra family-friendly activities on offer. You can learn to fish with expert fisherman Dolly, who will guide kids to catch their very own fish in the pond. Young explorers will have a fantastic time exploring the WonderWood adventure area, a trail in the woodland area, that's filled with local wildlife. Check out the fearsome Time Walk, where you can meet the dinosaurs and other animals from prehistoric times. The woodland is also home to Muntjac deer, badgers, foxes and dormice, so keep an eye out for these fascinating creatures. And finally, families are welcome to construct their own forest dens from materials they gather. For younger kids, some fantastic play areas are perfect for getting rid of that excess energy. From climbing pyramids to bouncy animals and even a Hobbit House, there's no shortage of places for kids of all ages to explore.
For something to eat or drink on your visit, you'll find Hair of the Hog as you take the Woodland Walk, and is a great place to grab a coffee or even a beer. You can also find some great takeaway snacks at the Snack Shack kiosk, or on sunny days, keep an eye out for the mobile ice cream kiosk. For a sit-down meal and a drink, head to the Field Kitchen at the old cattle yard, where you can enjoy burgers, hot meals, coffee and more. There are also some great veggie and vegan options to pick from. Another tasty option is Jimmy’s Restaurant and Tea Room, which is set in an old converted barn and has lots of great options for lunch, or even afternoon tea. There are also picnic tables on site if you'd prefer to bring your own lunch. And, if you can't get enough of the food here, you can actually order a Jimmy's Farm turkey at Christmas, to make your festive period that extra bit special.
If you and the kids had a brilliant day out at this fantastic farm, why not continue the Ipswich adventure with a trip to the idyllic Needham Lake and Nature Reserve? Or, for a taste of local history, head a little further out to Sudbury to experience the stately home Kentwell Hall.
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