Last Updated on June 4, 2023 by Suzy
Now my son is old enough I plan on booking him on as many animal experiences as possible. His second experience was at Harewood House near Leeds in West Yorkshire. There are a few animal experiences that you can book on which I will also cover below. I booked him on the Junior Farm Animal Experience. He loved it so much that I’ve promised him we will return next year.
Harewood House Animal Keeper Experience Review
Their Junior Animal Keeper Experience is for children aged 7 and over. It is advertised as the chance to get up close and personal with their four-legged friends at Harewood House. Experiences last 1.5 hours but we did actually overrun. They start at 12:30 pm and are available to book at weekends, bank holidays and during the school holidays.
The booking fee of £50 also includes day entry to the House, Grounds and Gardens for the participant. For myself and my Mum, we just paid the regular entry fee and we were allowed to ‘tag along’. Their website states that an adult must accompany the child but they didn’t mind two of us joining in and helping out. Harewood does not require an accompanying adult to pay for the Keeper Experience. There is a reduction on this for members.
The experience started by meeting Francesca, one of the keepers, at reception. She has a son about my boy’s age so she immediately knew how to make him feel welcome and involved. He really took to her and she was full of information about the animals she looks after, all of whom she clearly loves dearly. All of their animals have a name and we were given a rundown of most of their personalities. Plus lots of general information about them.
Francesca had lots of buckets of food and the main objective was to help her feed all their animals. We started with the pigs and my son’s task was to throw the pig’s food in lots of different places for them to find. We didn’t go in the pig’s enclosure but we did go in with all the other animals. We were, however, in an area where normal visitors couldn’t stand. My Mum and I were soon helping throw the food in.
Next, it was the turn of the goats. This was probably the main reason we overran as they were so adorable and my son was clearly in goat heaven. They are one of his favourite animals and these ones didn’t disappoint.
Nearly all of them were keen for human interactions and when they weren’t eating they stood themselves next to us ready for strokes and scratching. They ate all the food so delicately and it was a real pleasure to spend so much time so close to them.
Francesca didn’t want the goats eating out of the bucket so between the four of us we hand-fed them all their food. Banana skins were definitely their favourite.
Once we managed to tear ourselves away from the goats we headed for the Rhea who was in an enclosure with two male alpacas. I was a bit nervous about going in an enclosure with a Rhea as they don’t have the best reputation in our family.
The Rhea, as it turned out, didn’t care much for us at all and once it had eaten it didn’t come anywhere near us. My Mum had the task of feeding the Rhea which was certainly entertaining as it ate in such a funny manner that most of its food went out the bowl onto the ground, rather than in its beak.
The alpacas were quite timid and one of them just wouldn’t eat out of our hands. You could tell it wanted to but apparently, it just wasn’t its ‘place’ to. It was fun trying though and the other alpaca was certainly keen. You can see from the photo below just how close they’d come for food.
By now we didn’t have much time left so we had a quick visit to the guinea pigs. Here we didn’t help give them food, instead, my son got a cuddle with each of their three guinea pigs.
The second to last visit was to the rabbits. Here my son climbed into their hutches and helped feed them. As soon as he heard that one of them was blind he got himself right down low on the ground and was cuddling the bunny and chatting to it. My heart melted!
Our final visit, even though we’d completely overrun on time by now was back to see one of the pigs and give it a bit of a back scratch. If you want an experience that puts a feel-good smile on your face then this is for you and your family.
About Harewood House
As mentioned above entry to their house, grounds and gardens are also included. Harewood House was built in the late 18th Century and has some beautiful grounds to explore including a walled garden, a large lake and a Himalayan garden. There is a large wooden adventure playground. You can also explore the impressive house with over 12 staterooms.
Below are a few more photos from the rest of our day spent at Harewood House.
Harewood House FAQ & Further Information
Address: Sandy Gate, Harewood, Leeds LS17 9LE, West Yorkshire
Category – Animal Experience – Outdoors – Suitable from 7 years of age
What are the ticket prices?
The Junior Animal Keeper Experience costs £50 per child. Accompanying adults need to purchase an entrance ticket to Harewood House.
What are the main facilities and things to do?
Spend an hour and a half helping feed and stroke their animals including goats, pigs, alpacas, rabbits and guinea pigs. There are toilets and places to purchase food and drinks.
When are they open?
The Junior Keeper Experiences run most weekends, bank holidays and during most school holidays.
Is there food available?
There are two cafes serving hot and cold food and drinks. Plus a couple of kiosks outdoors that are open in the warmer months. You are welcome to bring a picnic.
Is there parking?
There is a free on-site car park.
Are they dog friendly?
Assistance dogs are permitted.
Are they accessible?
This experience is not wheelchair accessible.