Amazing Animal Encounters - The original 'Amazing Animals' based in Kent Est. 2011

As featured in KENT LIFE magazine May 2016 

The only animal handling activity provider accredited by the Children's Activities Association

Member of The Pet Services Association

Group sessions, animal assisted interventions for therapy, one:one, educational settings. Animals for film, tv and photography, static displays for events, bespoke sessions

Thank you for taking a look at Amazing Animal Encounters. My name is Maria Cooper Harle and I am the owner and head handler. 

Born and raised in rural Kent, I fell in love with wildlife and animals at an early age. Nature was respected and encouraged on my parent's smallholding and the gorgeous overgrown wildlife haven that was the farm they both worked on. Now a parent myself, living in a shepherds cottage on our smallholding, between Maidstone and Royal Tunbridge Wells,  I've been teaching my own children, and countless others to love and respect animals and wildlife since 2005, when we started accepting unwanted animals into our home. Amazing Animal Encounters was born from trying to support pets in need and was so popular, I left my job as a support youth worker at Kent County Council and we went full time in 2011.

I live and work here with my two young children and husband Ian, who was raised in Yorkshire on a small holding where they kept goats, sheep and horses before emigrating to New Zealand. Ian experienced countless exotic species in New Zealand and on his travels around the world. This helped broaden our knowledge and understanding of natural habitats. Ian's fondest amazing animal encounter is snorkeling among the whale sharks of The Philippines. 
1:1 at HQ

  Arthur the ram in the bluebell dell at Amazing Animal Encounters HQ. We are lucky to be able to have many animals free ranging and provide many different habitats for wildlife including meadow and woodland areas. The sheep, pig and pony have access to 5 acres of grazing. 

Amazing Animal Encounters provides hands on, educational, interactive animal handling sessions, animal wrangling services for film and tv and animals for photography. We cover the majority of Kent and some of Surrey, East Sussex, Essex and South East London. 

Because of our strict travel welfare policy, we will not travel further than one hour from our location in Kent.

Daffodil amongst her namesake 

Not all animal encounters providers are the same. We are in consultation with like minded encounter professionals, zoo keepers and other exotic animal experts, as well as DEFRA. Some of these companies can be found on Our Friends and Links page - do check them out. 

First and foremost, we are a provider of educational services and a safe and loving home to animals in need of a professional experienced place to live. 

We don't travel long distances, entertain large numbers, perform an outlandish show or give out sweets, party bags or provide 'extras'. We concentrate purely on providing an educational experience with the animals and the perfect environment for them to live in 

There's no kissing crocodiles, snakes around necks or creatures on head - their welfare and your well being come first

 My animals live as part of the family

People often ask "do you get funny looks when you walk the fox?" the answer is "we don't see another single human soul on our walks" This is the view from the back of our orchard and where the fox, dog and tanuki all go for their walks. We have our own amazing animal encounters with wild foxes, badgers , buzzards and barn owls. It really is a beautiful part of the world 

As well as my background in pre-school music teaching and youth work, we have a qualified teacher advising us on the educational elements of our sessions, our very own animal welfare and enrichment consultant and we are an accredited member of the Children's Activities Association which gives parents a bench mark for children's activities by establishing and improving consistent standards & accreditation. 

A re-enactment event where we provided a static display about the Womens Land Army, Rural Life and Home Front Pets 

We are extremely proud of the work we do delivering Animal Assisted Therapy, for provision in residential homes, ACP, SEN groups, schools, social services, hospitals and youth clubs. I must say, these really are the best jobs! Current regular contracts include weekly sessions for: Palace Wood primary school and Tonbridge Grammar School. Previous weekly contracts have included Loose primary school and Kent and Essex County Council's Social Services 


 Caitlin with Clementine the dragon

We follow the Animal-Assisted Interventions: Code of Practice for the UK, the Animal Welfare Act 2006, the RSPCA's 5 Freedoms and implement the 5 categories of enrichment. 
We are happy to provide paperwork in advance. 
Just ask if you need our PLI, Risk Assessment, Performing Animals Licence, Equal Opportunities Policy, Safeguarding Policy or DBS certificates 

We recommend when looking to book an animal encounter, members of the public ensure the company they are booking:

  • Are registered under the Performing Animals Act - ask to see a copy of their certificate
  • Has a valid, up to date Public Liability Insurance
  • Has handlers suitably qualified or experienced, with animal management qualifications or provable experience in the sector

and that customers should:

  • Ask to see a copy of risk assessment or handling procedures documents
  • Check reviews on Facebook and social media to see if there are any noted issues with the company chosen

 A little visitor to HQ playing in the orchard