As featured in KENT LIFE magazine May 2016
The only animal handling activity provider accredited by the Children's Activities Association
Group sessions, animal assisted therapy, one:one, residential homes, youth clubs, educational settings. Animals for film, tv and photography, static displays for events
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 all around the world. This has helped broaden our knowledge and understanding of natural habitats of exotic species that we care for. Ian's fondest amazing animal encounter is snorkeling among the whale sharks of The Philippines. Usually taking a back seat in regards to our public presence, he's our bespoke enclosure builder and plans to become a fully qualified live capture operative.
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.
Prices are kept low to be affordable for everyone, regardless of your background or situation
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 constant consultation with a network of like minded encounter professionals as a member of The UK Animal Encounters Professionals Group, as well as zoo keepers and other exotic animal experts, sharing ideas, concepts and striving to be as regulated as possible. 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
All the handlers have training and qualifications in animal disciplines. I expect my young handlers to progress to be more knowledgeable than me! They must all be on or have attended, full time college or university courses on animal management. We are a registered work experience provider for Hadlow College
There's no kissing crocodiles, snakes around necks, creatures on heads or feeding snakes - their welfare and your well being come first
My animals live as part of the family, in an environment that can only be compared with Dr Doolittle.
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 a member of the Children's Activities Association which gives parents a bench mark for children's activities by establishing and improving consistent standards & accreditation.
Maria, Jay and Caitlin. Jay is now at university studying his Zoo degree and is a part time zoo keeper. All of us miss him very much, but he keeps his hand in, with a consultant role.
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: Kent County Council social services, Essex County Council Social Services and Tonbridge Grammar School.
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
Just ask if you need our PLI, Risk
Assessment, Performing Animals Licence, Equal Opportunities Policy or
The UK Animal Encounters Professional
Group advises members of the public to ensure they hire an encounter company
- Is registered under the
Performing Animals Act - ask to see a copy of their certificate
- The company has 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
WE WILL BEAT ANY GENUINE LIKE FOR LIKE QUOTE!!!