History of Beale Wildlife Park

The History of Beale Wildlife Park

How Beale Wildlife Park was formed

In 1956, Beale Wildlife Park was formed by Gilbert Beale who decided to give this beautiful, 350 acre, Thames-side park land to ‘the people’ by converting it from private farmland into a non-profit making, charitable trust. In those days it was little more than a track and a couple of ponds.


Gilbert with his favourite Peahen called Laura

Gilbert adored Indian peacocks and by his death, aged 99, in 1967, there were over 300 on site. His favourite, a peahen called Laura, followed him everywhere and even rode around the estate in his Rolls Royce!


Richard Howard

Gilbert’s great nephew, Richard Howard, together with a team of staff, continued to make additions to the Park by creating new gardens and including captive breeding of rare birds and organic farming.  They also added in new play areas, the paddling pool and sand pit.

Richard passed away in 2017.

2020 onwards

In 2019, the Trustees recruited Stephen McKeown as the Director.  Stephen has a wealth of experience and knowledge having worked in zoos all over the world.

Both Stephen and the Trustees believe that all species have an equal right to life and, therefore, to conservation. Beale Wildlife Park is very fortunate to have a truly dedicated team of professionals to care for the animals and the land in its tenure.

Since the Trust was formed the bird collection, in particular, has advanced from a few peacocks to one of the foremost collections in Europe. The main source of funding for these important projects is from ticket receipts at the gate, so Beale Wildlife Park relies on its visitors more than ever before.

Visitors are helping conserve both rare and endangered birds and mammals just by coming to see the collection and enjoying a day out.

Beale Wildlife Park is now open on a 'first come, first served' basis.  Please read our Covid Briefing before setting out.