About Us

Gauntlet Birds of Prey – Eagle and Vulture Park is situated in Knutsford, Cheshire.

Established in 1996, the park is home to over 180 birds from 50 different species – it’s the largest collection in the North West of England. It is also one of only a handful of birds of prey parks in the UK to be a member of BIAZA (The British & Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums).

Our main goal is to raise awareness of birds of prey, how they live, hunt and feed. At Gauntlet you will meet a wide range of birds from Eagles, Hawks and Falcons, to Vultures, Kites and Owls. The park is also home to more unusual species like Caracaras, Seriemas, Storks and Pelicans. We inform visitors of the plight of some of the species here at the park through our Flying Demonstrations (where you get to see and hear all about the birds), the ‘Vulture Restaurant Talk’ and ‘Meet and Greet’ sessions. We also run a range of fun and educational events and experiences. Events & Workshops like our Young Falconer’s Club or Owls by Moonlight and Birds of Prey Experiences, where you can get up close to our birds and fly anything from a Little Owl on a Taster Experience to a huge White-tailed Sea Eagle on an Ultimate Eagle Encounter.

Conservation and education is extremely important to us, it’s why we started the park in the first place. Since we opened our doors we have educated 1000’s of children on the importance of these birds, their habitats and how to conserve them. We do this through educational presentations to schools visiting the park and also through the work of our educational team. The team visit schools, youth groups, etc. across Cheshire and Manchester, taking some of Gauntlet’s residents with them. Throughout the year Gauntlet also works hard to raise funds for its charity partner ‘Gauntlet Conservation Trust’ which actively supports conservation projects in both the UK and internationally.

Meet The Team

Graham Bessant

Owner, Founder, Bird Handler and Presenter

Graham’s driving passion for birds of prey has seen him steer Gauntlet from a fledgling centre with 13 birds, to the largest collection of birds of prey in the North West.

Daisy Bessant

Bird Handler and Presenter

Daisy is working on her Chartered Business Management Apprenticeship while working at Gauntlet.

Jake Bessant

Bird Handler and Presenter

Jake is following in his father’s footsteps working at the park while studying for his Level 3 Apprenticeship in Animal Care.

Laura Jones

Bird Handler and Presenter

Laura joined us as a volunteer after completing her studies at Liverpool John Moores University, where she achieved a BSc in Zoology. She is now a full-time member of the team.

Shannen-Leigh McAleer

Bird Handler and Presenter

Shannen joined Gauntlet for a five week work experience placement while studying for her BSc in Animal Behaviour at the University of Chester. After her placement finished she took a summer job with us and conducted her dissertation research at the park about, ‘Footedness and laterality in captive reared bird of prey species’. She has now completed her studies and is a full-time member of the team.

Shell Mckee


Shell worked at Gauntlet as a volunteer while studying for her BSc Degree in Animal Management. After graduating in May 2011, she joined us as a full-time member of the team.

Christine Bruton

Finance Manager

Malcolm Twist


COVID-19 safety measures at Gauntlet Birds of Prey

We are welcoming visitors back and we want to make everyone feel safe and comfortable and enjoy our lovely park. We have implemented some important changes to keep our visitors and staff safe during this time. Please see below. If you have any questions please click here to contact us.

Before you visit please check our website and Facebook page for the most up-to-date information.

Please do not enter the park if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, however mild. Stay at home and only visit the park when it is safe to do so. Please follow NHS guidelines.


For the protection of all visitors and our staff we have put the following measures in place to welcome you back safely, please read:

  • We have installed protective screens in the entrance.
  • Enhanced cleaning measures have been introduced across the park. These will be carried out frequently throughout each day and after the park is closed each evening.
  • Our staff will be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) – face masks and disposable gloves. If you speak to member of staff please remember to stand at least 2 metres away from them.
  • There is a one-way system in place, to help you walk around safely. Please follow the navigation signs laid out in the park.
  • There is a queuing system in place for all toilet facilities and social distancing will be monitored. We ask that you are patient when cleaning is in progress in these areas to allow us to maintain a high level of hygiene.
  • During your visit please wash your hands and use hand sanitiser frequently. If you cough or sneeze, please do so in a tissue and then dispose of it appropriately. Hand wash facilities and hand sanitiser stations are available throughout the park.
  • In line with government guidance our café is now open. You can also purchase food and drink and enjoy them outside in our picnic areas. You are also welcome to bring your own food and drink, please dispose of your litter responsibly.
  • Picnic benches are situated in a number of areas of the park, there is a 2 metre distance between each one.
  • Our live shows and talks run throughout the day, please note we have put strict social distancing measures in place to allow spectators to sit and watch safely.
  • In line with government guidance the children’s play area is now open.

During your visit please remember to observe social distancing rules at all times. Thank you for your cooperation.

Here are some FAQs that may help answer a question you have at this time, due to COVID-19.

Question: What days and times are you open?
Answer: We are open Wednesday to Sunday from March to October, 11am to 5pm (last entry to the park 3pm). And weekends only from November to February, 11am to 4.30pm (last entry to the park 3pm). During school holidays we are open 7 days a week, 11am to 5pm (last entry to the park 3pm).

Question: Do I need to book to come to the park?
Answer: You will NO longer be able to purchase tickets on arrival at the park. All tickets must be purchased online using our new booking system, click here to book.

Question: I purchased a Birds of Prey Experience – will you extend the validation?
Answer: Please email us at info@gauntlet.info with your name and order number and we will be able to tell you what your extended date is.

Question: I have a Birds of Prey Experience voucher, when can I book a date?
Answer: Please email us at info@gauntlet.info with your name and order number so we can get you booked in.

Question: I purchased a Young Falconer’s Club event ticket / An Evening with Owls and Friends event ticket, but the event was cancelled due to lockdown restrictions. Can you help?
Answer: We have notified many of the people who purchased a cancelled event ticket. If you haven’t heard from us yet please email us at info@gauntlet.info with your name and order number and we will look into it.