As featured on BBC Radio Kent August 2017 & 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, therapeutic animal assisted interventions, one:one, educational settings, 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 early on. 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, Tonbridge 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 to support pets in need and was so popular, I left my job as a support youth worker at Kent County Council and went full time in 2011.
I live and work here with my two children and husband Ian, a rural boy living on a Yorkshire smallholding before he emigrated to New Zealand. Ian experienced countless exotic species in New Zealand and on his future 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.
Because of our strict travel welfare policy, we will not travel further than one hour from our location in Kent.
Not all animal encounters providers are the same. We were honored to be part of a small DEFRA working group consulting on animal encounters alongside a handful of other encounter businesses earlier this year and have been busy contributing to exciting new moves forward for our sector.
We are a provider of educational services and a safe and loving home to the animals that are rehomed here
We don't travel long distances, entertain large numbers, perform an outlandish show or give out sweets, party bags or provide 'extras'. We concentrate 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. Everything we do is age appropriate. We conduct our sessions with dignity and respect
My animals live as part of the family
People ask "do you get funny looks when you walk the fox?" 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 educational elements 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 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.
Our PLI, Risk
Assessment, Performing Animals Licence, Equal Opportunities Policy, Safeguarding Policy, Method Statement and DBS certificates have been checked by an independent body
We recommend members of the public ensure the company they are booking:
- Are registered under the
Performing Animals Act with a 'Performing Animals Licence' certificate.
- Have valid, up to
date Public Liability Insurance and Employees/volunteer Liability Insurance
- Have handlers suitably qualified
or experienced, with animal management qualifications or provable
and that customers should:
- Ask to see a copy of risk
assessment or handling procedure/method statement documents
- Check reviews on social media
- Ensure the company has permission to operate from their premises and keep the animals in a way that satisfies you - there is nothing wrong with asking for photos