From mongoose to marmoset monkeys, tortoises to tiny turkey poults, a cute and curious collection of creatures have their home near Chippenham.

About 900 people got to discover and some to handle them at Lackham Animal Centre and Gardens’ open day at the weekend.

Wiltshire College opened up its grounds on Sunday, to showcase the work of its students in horticulture, equine management, floristry and animal science and management.

Families watched the dog agility display and explored the walled gardens, greenhouses and zoological garden at the 1,700-acre campus.

Staff talked to visitors about their area of expertise, from bats to bees, falconry or flowers.

Kim Hunt, 54, who lives near Sherston, said: “You don’t often get the opportunity to see all the animals here. It’s nice to see the falcons flying and the peacock looking out for the peachicks. There’s a good variety of things to do for all ages.”

Megan Hughes, five, of Yatton Keynell, visiting with her grandmother, said: “I liked the dogs with the waggly tails. And the wallaby.”

It was a hands-on experience for many, who felt the feathery smooth skin of a boa, petted a pony or stroked a fluffy baby guinea pig.

Some chose to take part in the national owl pellet survey, looking at them through microscopes to see the bones of regurgitated shrews.

Others watched a woodturning demonstration on a lathe, showing how a piece of timber becomes an egg cup.

Venetia Summers, the curriculum manager of animal care and equine, said: “It was very much managed and organised by the students. It is the second year we’ve done it and it was lovely to see how confident the students were.”

The entry fees, face painting, dog bathing and sitting, Leekes-sponsored dog shows and guess the weight of the rabbit competitions raised just short of £3,000, which will be put towards maintaining the animal enclosures.

The continental giant rabbit weighed in at 5.8 kilos, which was guessed by Maxine Wilshire.