It's also a wonderful place to visit with gorgeous open and authentically natural habitats housing some very happy and content looking creatures.
So on Friday night after a hard week of work I made the short jaunt up the M27 to the Sunset Party in the Park - Starting at 6.30pm the park laid on a fun evening of activities and entertainment to the backdrop of wonderful glorious weather, the advancing twilight and of course the wonderful wonderful animals.
The evening kicked off with entertainment even while queuing to enter the park courtesy of the excellent Top Bananas stilt band.
In the park I was happy to meet up with some great friends including Emma Collins and her fabulous family and I can vouch that the evening was a roaring success with us all! The girls especially had a whale of a time meeting some wonderful costumed performers - my favourite being The Penguins!
The Collins' crew loved them too as evident from Emma's hilarious Penguin-Selfies!
A couple more fun characters were Mr and Mrs Pigeon - I'm a sucker for a cute birds and these cute couple left little 'treats' behind as the comically pecked around the park - thankfully the treats were of the sweetie kind!
The Sunset Parties coincide with the Marwell 'Rise of the Dinosaurs' event which runs through to the 2nd September and features an incredible array of moving and growling, life-size dino sculptures that the kids lapped up. They were certainly a spectacle, but I'm a real-live animal gal so after a quick Aberdeen Angus burger (that any T-Rex would be proud to munch down) I continued on my merry way around the park toting some essential gear!
The decision as to what gear to take to any given event plagues me for days before a function - I knew it would be a trade off between enough length to get some great frame filling shots and enough aperture to chuck enough light into the mix. I settled on a pair of set-ups. First up was my Canon 7D paired with a Sigma 150-500mm - perfect for getting up close and personal and a Canon 60D with short Tamron 28-75mm for close up goodies. The Tamron's f2.8 aperture is great for letting in lots of light - this proved essential in the rapidly diminishing light and if I'm honest I could have done with a faster long lens as the light levels forced me to shoot on a way higher ISO than I usually care to... but a girl can only dream for faster glass!
So back to the animals! New additions since my last visit were the Walkthrough Aviary at the very top of the park housing a wonderful mixture of birds from around the world. My favourite was the Waldrapp Ibis.
Also new to me was a new area for the Meercats. Surely no one can resist these cuties!
Another favourite is the Amur Leopard - just stunning!
Talking of big cats - I just about had enough light to grab some quick frames of the Snow Leopards - the second half of my trip was a little dark for my liking so I think I need to pop back and concentrate on this side of the park again - even so these guys were gorgeous even if they are looking a little grainy for my taste.
Last but not least - a few more birds (my own personal weakness) - Humboldt Penguins - always adorable and the first place you NEED to stop off when you arrive at Marwell
The seeming trend of the season on the high street - Flamingos (or Mingos as the Collins girls love to call them.
An ostrich - snapped as the sun was going down.
And my absolute favourite - the Marabou Stock - gotta love him!
If you'd like to see all the pictures from my visit to the Sunset Party in the Park at Marwell Wildlife then pop on over to my Flickr album - and if you're inspired there is another chance to attend this great event on the 5th July - click here for all the info.