Edward and Carolyn Dorrell – dairy farmers from Telford and one of the pioneers of dairy ice cream moved to Hoo Farm in 1988 after their previous home was taken over by Telford Development Corporation for re-development.
The farm had been uninhabited for several years and had been used by the local council for growing Christmas trees. It was with these Christmas trees that Hoo Farm first opened its gates to the public, under the guise of Hoo Farm Country Park, it was the first place to offer ‘Cut and Dig Your Own Trees’ in the West Midlands.
A number of animals such as Horses, Cows, Pigs, Sheep and Goats took up residence and it wasn’t long before customers started asking to see the animals. With this high demand and popularity to see the animals, in 1991 Hoo Farm renamed and became Hoo Farm Animal Kingdom, with the gates opening for good.
The park itself has changed hugely since its early days, in 1991, 92 and 93 Ostrich, Llama and Deer arrived. Shortly after Foxes and Owls took residence alongside Raccoons and a limited number of reptiles. The Sheep Steeplechase (another first) was also hugely popular.
It was after 2001 when Hoo Farm took its biggest step, whilst Hoo Farm was lucky enough not to catch Foot and Mouth in the horrific outbreak that year, it did mean that the farm had to stay closed until late May – nearly bankrupting the family and it was Carolyn’s idea that Hoo Farm bring in some more exotic animals that wouldn’t be as vulnerable if another epidemic was to strike.
So, in 2004 Meerkats and Alpacas arrived, along with more activities such as pedal Go Carts, Pony Rides and the Galloping Goat Race. In 2008 Hoo Farm became fully Zoo Licensed, making them Shropshire’s first zoo.
The most recent step has been with the next generation of the Dorrell family and Wills Wild Animal Encounters. Beginning in 2010, Wills Wild Animal Encounters – run by Will Dorrell – has brought another attraction to Hoo Farm with highly acclaimed Animal Experiences. With the rise of this side of the business, more exotic animals have arrived such as Lemurs, Coati, Otters, Servals, Caracal, Warthog, Wallabies, Capybara, Skunks and even Crocodiles.
With a new exciting future for Hoo Farm just on the horizon, it is important we don’t forget our roots. Looking through our trip advisor page the comments that appear most often are ‘Lovely, Friendly and Happy Animals’.