Marwell Wildlife, formerly known as Marwell Zoological Park, is a 140-acre zoo and registered charity situated at Owslebury near Winchester, in the English county of Hampshire. It is home to over 1,200 animals of 235 different species.
The zoo was founded by John Knowles, opening in 1972. It was one of the earliest zoos in Europe to place an emphasis on animal conservation. Within a few years of its establishment, it became an important breeding centre for several species, some (e.g. the Mongolian Wild Horse) already extinct in the wild, others (e.g. the Snow Leopard and Siberian Tiger) close to extinction.
The park is situated in the estate of Marwell Hall, a Grade I listed building originally built in 1320 by Walter Woodlock and largely rebuilt in 1816 by William Long. In the 1500s, the Hall belonged to the Seymour family, and there is a local tradition that Henry VIII married Jane Seymour there. Between September 1941 and March 1944, Cunliffe-Owen Aircraft used the area (part of the Managing Director’s personal estate) as an airfield to support the manufacture of military aircraft at its nearby factory in Eastleigh. After the end of World War II, the area was returned to agricultural use until the establishment of the zoo. In 2007, the park was voted in an online poll of Hampshire residents as the place they were most proud of.
The zoo’s exhibits include:
- 449 mammals of 81 species, including kangaroos, lemurs, tamarins, meerkats, leopards, tigers, cheetahs, snow leopards, zebras and giraffes.
- 309 birds of 42 species; including penguins, ostriches, Rheas, ibis and flamingoes
- 61 reptiles of 24 species; tortoises, chameleons and a West African Dwarf Crocodile
- 31 amphibians of seven species; including salamanders and Poison Dart Frogs
- 18 fish of seven species; including catfish and Red-bellied piranha
- 839 invertebrates of 27 species; including Partula Snails, Black Widow Spiders and Leafcutter Ants