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You can see the map of our walk-through areas at the Park below…
This fantastic experience will enable you to meet, feed and generally care for our three Indian rhinos. Travel to the Indian Rhino House and help with morning routines and training sessions. You will also go out on patrol with the Keepers and be able to see other animals on the Asiatic section.
Speak to our Experiences Team regarding what dates and times are available.
Phone 01299 406461 or Email email@example.com
£175.00 per person (aged 16+ years).
Please note that timings are subject to change.
8.40am – Arrive at WMSP main drive and pull over on the left-hand side. Please remain in your vehicle and you will be greeted by your Safari Guide. You will park in the main car park and then embark in our special Safari vehicle.
9.00am – First stop is the Indian Rhino House. This is the time of day that the rhinos are still in their house so you will be able to meet the rhinos and help with morning routines, feeds, and training sessions.
9.30am – A photo opportunity with the rhinos will take place. You will be able to get up very close and feed some bananas to the rhinos.
10.00am – Time for the rhinos to go into their reserve. You will help prepare the paddocks, put out the feed and release the rhinos, all under the guidance of the Keepers.
10.30am – Now it is time to clean out the Rhino House, remove the muck, and turn the bark – so we hope you are prepared for hard work!
12.00pm – You will go out on patrol with the Keepers and be able to see the other animals on the Asiatic section, and there will be time to collect some browse for the rhinos too.
1.30pm – Lunch in Dino Diner. One of the Keepers will join you for lunch and will be able to tell you about the other animals at the Park too. The Keeper will also give you a guidebook.
2.30pm – The rest of the day is yours to explore as you wish at your leisure in the Safari Drive-through, Discovery Trail and African Village. You can use your ride wristband for unlimited rides in the Adventure Theme Park or take a tour around the Safari in your own car.
Don’t forget to call in at Reception to pick up your memory stick and Free Return Ticket.
Update: 5th January 2021
Due to the Government’s latest announcement, our gates are once again temporarily closed until further notice. Guests with pre-booked tickets will be contacted in the coming days.
All Annual Pass holders will automatically receive an extension for the period of time we are closed.
Read more: Click Here.
Our brand-new, incredible elephant lodges offer an overnight stay like nowhere else in Europe. They are the only place where you can wake up to an amazing view of African elephants, making the experience truly unique.
The six luxurious, authentically-themed lodges have thatched roofs and can accommodate up to five people.
Each lodge has a large, open-plan living area with a lounge and dining area. A bathroom with WC and a large balcony, incorporating an outside seating area, complete the downstairs living space of each lodge.
Stairs lead to an upstairs bedroom which overlooks the elephants’ brand-new habitat, providing fantastic views as the sun sets. There is also the opportunity to add a cot for small children.
Your evening meal and breakfast are included, cooked onsite by our team of experienced chefs and served in our Cellarz restaurant.
You’ll receive an exclusive tour behind the scenes of our state-of-the-art African Lion House while meeting and feeding our pride of lions, including our youngest additions!
Speak to our Experiences Team regarding what dates and times are available.
Phone 01299 406461 or Email firstname.lastname@example.org
£175.00 per person (aged 6+ years. Children aged 6-15 years must be accompanied by a full paying adult).
Please note that timings are subject to change. Timings may be earlier during the school holidays.
9.20am – Arrive at WMSP and pull over on the left-hand side of the main drive. Please remain in your vehicle and your Safari Guide will greet you. They will escort you to the main car park and then embark on our special Safari vehicle.
9.50am – Arrive at our African Lion House. Your VIP guide will give you a tour behind the scenes. You will see the lions in their outdoor compound and have an opportunity to feed them. Afterwards, some of the other pride members will be released into the reserves.
10.30am – Time for a refreshment in Dino Diner.
11.00am – You are now free to spend the rest of the day at your leisure in the Safari Drive-through, Discovery Trail, and African Village.
This fantastic experience will get you to get up close with our Humboldt penguins and Californian sea lions. Spend your day with our Discovery Trail Keepers helping them with feeds, shows and enrichment.
£155.00 per person (aged 16+ years).
Please note that timings are subject to change. Timings on certain dates will run an hour earlier.
9.30am – Arrive at WMSP main drive and pull over on the left-hand side. Please remain in your vehicle and your Safari Guide will meet you. They will then direct you to park in the main car park and then embark on our special Safari vehicle.
9.35am – First stop will be at our Penguin Exhibit where you will meet the penguins, help to rake the sand in their exhibit, clean the glass and put out the enrichment for the penguins.
11.00am – Time for a quick break for a well-deserved cup of tea!
11.15am – Assist with preparation for the penguin feed.
11.30am – Clean out the penguin house and pools.
12.30pm – Now it’s time to help the keeper present the Penguin Feed.
1.00pm – Get ready for the Sea Lion Show and watch a training session.
1.30pm – Sea Lion Show time! You will be introduced to the audience as a VIP keeper.
2.00pm – Lunch in Dino Diner with one of our keepers. They will be able to answer any of your questions and tell you about the other animals at the Park too.
2.30pm – The rest of the day is yours to explore as you wish. You can use your VIP wristband for unlimited rides in the Adventure Theme Park, explore the rest of the Discovery Trail or take a tour around the Safari in your own car.
This fantastic experience will enable you to meet, feed and generally care for our starts in the African Village, an unforgettable close encounter with these friendly little creatures.
8.40am – Arrive at WMSP. If you are arriving in a vehicle, pull over on the left-hand side of the driveway. Please remain in your vehicle; your Safari Guide will come and greet you. They will then escort you to the main car park before embarking in our VIP Safari Jeep. If you are arriving on foot, please make your way to main Reception instead.
9.00am – First stop will be at our Meerkat House. At this time of day, the meerkats are still inside so you will be able to meet them and help with morning routines.
10.00am – Time to meet the lemurs. You will get to give them their breakfast and let them out into their fantastic woodland exhibit.
10.30am – Now it is time to clean out the Lemur House. This means removing the muck and replacing all the bedding. We hope you are prepared for some hard work!
11.30am – You will go out into the Lemur Woods and help to clean the area. This will give you chance to watch the lemurs going about their daily activities. You will also help to feed the goats and sheep in African Village.
1.00pm – Last task before lunch! Time for the Lemur Talk. You will join the keeper to help present the talk by giving the lemurs a snack for their lunch. This will be a photo opportunity too.
1.30pm – Lunch in Dino Diner. One of the keepers will join you; this will give you opportunity to ask any final questions. Our keeper will be happy to tell you about the other animals at the Park too.
2.30pm – The rest of the day is yours to spend as you wish. You can use your VIP Wristband for unlimited rides in the Adventure Theme Park, wander through the Discovery Trail or take a tour around the Safari Drive-through. Don’t forget the other talks and shows throughout the day: timings can be found on your map.
Young keepers will get to meet our Asian rhinos, lorikeets, meerkats and lemurs as well as tours around the Reptile House and Safari Drive-through. They’ll spend the morning experiencing the life of a Keeper and the duties this entails!
This is suitable for children between the ages of 12-15 years.
£155.00 per person (aged between 12-15 years).
Our VIP Tours are a unique treat for anyone who is an animal lover and would like to see a little of what goes on behind the scenes at the Safari Park!
You will get the chance to travel through the Safari Drive-through in an authentic safari vehicle before we open to the general public. Your guide will give you fascinating facts and insight into everyday life for the keepers and animals. You will be able to get up close and personal to our rhinos, giraffes, sea lions and even some of our new arrivals.
£185.00 per person (6+ years).
Book exclusive use of the whole jeep for only £925.00 (seats up to six people).
This experience gives you the chance to experience a feeding encounter with our lions in a specially-designed cage. Step into your cage and be driven into the lion enclosure where our big cats will be waiting! Your 30-minute encounter includes the opportunity to meet with our highly experienced Carnivore Keepers who will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
£260.00 per person (aged 16+ years.)
8.45am – Arrive at WMSP main drive and pull over on the left-hand side. Please remain in your vehicle and your Safari Guide will meet you. They will then direct you to park in the main car park and then embark on our special Safari vehicle.
9.00am – Enter the Safari with your Safari Guide, where you will be met by our experienced carnivore keepers. You will embark into our specially designed lion-feeding cage for the experience of a lifetime. You will be driven into the midst of our Lion Reserve, now comes the opportunity to feed the lions! Your Safari Guide will take photographs, which we will put on a memory stick for you to take home.
10.00am – Your guide will take you Dino Diner for a hot drink and a snack.
10.30am – You are now free to spend the rest of the day at your leisure in the Safari Drive-through, Discovery Trail, and African Village.
This experience gives you the chance to meet and participate in the feeding of our tigers before the Park is open to the general public. You will be driven in a Safari vehicle to the tigers where your 30-minute encounter will begin. You will then have the opportunity to meet with our highly experienced Carnivore Keepers who will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
£130.00 per person (aged 6+ years. Children aged 6-15 years must be accompanied by a full paying adult).
9.15am – Arrive at WMSP and pull over on the left-hand side of the main drive. Please remain in your vehicle and your Safari Guide will greet you. They will then direct you to park in the main car park where you will transfer vehicles and receive the safety briefing.
9.25am – Arrive at Tiger Ridge. You will meet the tigers and will have the opportunity to feed one. Your Safari Guide will take photos.
10.00am – Your guide will take you to Dino Diner for a hot drink and a snack.
10.30am – You are now free to spend the rest of the day at your leisure.
This experience provides access to Penguin Cove and a chance to get up close to our Humboldt penguins. During this 20-minute encounter, you will get to learn all about the penguins whilst offering enrichment and feeding them fishy treats.
£65.00 per person (aged 6+ years.)
Admission and ride wristbands are NOT included in the Penguin Feed Experience.
Arrive at WMSP in good time before your experience. Please be aware that during the holidays and summer months, it can take longer to get through the front gates. You will need to proceed through the admission kiosks and park your vehicle.
10.55am – Make your way down to the Experiences Kiosk, located at the front of the Lost City Plaza, where you will be greeted by your Safari Guide.
11.00am – Arrive at Penguin Cove where you will be met by our experienced Penguin Keepers. You will get to go up onto the beach to meet the penguins and learn lots of interesting facts about them as well as feeding them some fishy treats. Your Safari Guide will take photographs throughout the experience, which we will put on a memory stick for you to take home.
11.30am – Your Safari Guide will take you to the Dino Diner for a snack and drink. After this, you are now free to spend the rest of the day at your leisure in the Safari Drive-through, Discovery Trail, and African Village. Don’t forget to watch the Sea Lion Shows at 1.30pm or 3.30pm.
Come face-to-face with our herd of giraffe and participate in their morning feed before the Park is open to the general public. Throughout your 30-minute encounter, you will be accompanied by a personal Safari Guide who will teach you fascinating facts about the giraffes and answer any questions you may have.
£100.00 per person (aged 6+ years.).
Please note that timings are subject to change. Timings will be earlier during the main school holidays.
9.15am – Arrive at WMSP main drive and pull over on the left-hand side. Please remain in your vehicle and your Safari Guide will meet you. They will then direct you to park in the main car park and then embark on our special Safari vehicle.
9.25am – Arrive at the Giraffe House, where you will be met by one of our experienced Hoof Stock Keepers. You will meet the giraffes and help to feed them. Your Safari Guide will take photographs, which we will put on a memory stick for you to take home.
This experience gives you the chance to meet and participate in the feeding of our cheetahs before the Park is open to the general public. You will be driven in a Safari vehicle to the Cheetah Plains where your 30-minute encounter will begin. You will then have the opportunity to meet with our highly experienced Carnivore Keepers who will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
£100.00 per person (aged 6+ years. Children aged 6-15 years must be accompanied by a full paying adult).
9.15am – Arrive at WMSP main drive and pull over on the left-hand side. Please remain in your vehicle and you will be greeted by your Safari Guide. They will escort you to the main car park to park your vehicle before heading off into the Safari Drive-through.
9.25am – Arrive at Cheetah Plains. You will meet the cheetahs and help to feed them. Photos will be taken during this time.
10.00am – Your guide will take you to Dino Diner for your refreshment break.
10.30am – You are now free to spend the rest of the day at your leisure in the Safari Drive-through, Discovery Trail, and African Village. You could also purchase a ride wristband and enjoy our Adventure Theme Park!
Our two exquisite, five-star cheetah lodges offer an exclusive and immersive stay, which cannot be experienced anywhere else in the UK.
The authentically-themed, detached lodges offer a large living space for up to six people, with dining area, bathroom and WC.
Panoramic views of the cheetahs’ new habitat can be witnessed through the large windows that span one side of the lodge.
In the separate bedroom, guests will find a king-size bed with twin single bunkbeds above, perfect for young adults or children.
The bedroom also includes a floor-to-ceiling window, offering a stunning view of the cheetahs – you could be waking up with one at the foot of your bed!
Additionally, there is a veranda, offering comfortable seating and spectacular views.
Breakfast and evening meal are included, cooked onsite by our experienced chef and served in our onsite restaurant, Cellarz.
West Midland Safari Park has been celebrating the spookiest of seasons, with some pumpkin treats for their latest arrival, Indian rhino calf, Inesh.
Following his birth seven weeks ago, Inesh is the first Indian rhino to be born on site and is one of four Indian rhinos residing at the Park. Keepers got into the Halloween spirit over half term, adding two surprise pumpkins into the Indian rhino’s large grassy paddock, which Inesh has been venturing out to for the first time this week, as he starts to explore more of the Safari alongside his mother.
Although carrots and apples are usually the first choice for treats, the Park is currently abundant with pumpkins – part of the theming for the annual Spooky Spectacular event, which is running until Sunday 1st November. With over 1,100 pumpkins used as part of this year’s Spook-tastic event, and to save them going to waste, keepers often swap to pumpkins for a range of animals at the Park, encouraging some interactive enrichment and good old-fashioned fun for everyone.
Senior Ungulate Keeper, Sarah Cartwright said, “The rhinos love investigating new things so as we only have pumpkins over Halloween, it means they really enjoy them. Inesh had never seen one before so he was very interested in what it was. Once mum Seto had given the ‘all clear’ and squashed it slightly by standing on it, the pumpkin was suddenly an even better treat. The rhinos like to stand on them as it squishes them into bite-sized pieces.
“Inesh and Seto are doing really well together. She is a fantastic first-time mum, and he sticks very close by her. In the evenings, he will lay under a hay rack whilst she eats so he can have a snooze with her watching over him.
“Guests seem to be really enjoying having a rhino calf bouncing around the place and he creates quite a crowd when he’s zooming around the paddocks! Although Inesh will never fully understand how important he is to the future of their species, we really hope that our guests get to understand just know just how special he is, and we can continue to build even more awareness of rhino conservation.”
Since his birth, Inesh has made quite the impact on the Park and visitors have been keen to come and see him out on Safari where he can be spotted close to his mum as they venture around the reserve. Now weighing approx. 95 kilograms, Inesh has been growing well and is alternating between his two paddocks, where he enjoys a run around under the watchful eye of mum, Seto.
To celebrate the spookiest of seasons, the Park will be themed with plenty of pumpkins and 55 illuminated scarecrows, which guests will be able to see in all their glory when they are illuminated after dark during the Park’s extended opening hours during half term. Brave guests will also be able to experience the Adventure Theme Park and Land of the Living Dinosaurs in the dark!
The Park is also running a competition throughout the event, where visitors have the chance to win an Annual Family Pass. Participants must simply take their picture at one of the Park’s spooky locations and upload to Instagram or the Park’s Facebook page, tagging #WMSP. Guests are also encouraged to attend in Halloween fancy dress to join in with the frightful fun.
After a very exciting fortnight, following the birth of their FIRST Indian rhino calf, West Midland Safari Park is thrilled to reveal that new-mum Seto has, herself, officially chosen the calf’s name – Inesh!
At the time of his birth, the Park confirmed that the calf’s name would begin with the letter ‘I’, mirroring the naming of all other animals born on-site in 2020. After much deliberation, Keepers narrowed it down to two suggestions that would then be shared with Seto for her final decision.
For Seto to choose, two identical, brightly patterned boxes, each marked with a name, were placed into her paddock. Some tasty treats were positioned in equal amounts inside each box to coax Seto over whilst Keepers waited to see which name she would choose. After a quick investigation of both boxes, Seto made it clear with a hearty nudge of her nose that the box marked ‘Inesh’ was her winner.
Deputy Head Keeper of Ungulates, Shelley Tudor, said “We are so happy that Seto was able to choose the name for her calf. The keepers created a shortlist of their favourite names and we felt it was a brilliant opportunity to mix giving some enrichment to Seto to assist us in making the final decision.”
Born on Tuesday 8 September to eleven-year-old female Seto, and twelve-year-old male Rap, Inesh has been venturing out with his mother into the Park’s Rhino House paddock, where guests have been able to spot him trotting around and even doing a spot of sunbathing in the last of the summer sunshine.
He will eventually join his mum, roaming the plains together in the Wild Asia section of the reserve here at the Park where guests will be able to watch him grow and settle into his new home.
The Park is home to two types of rhinos – six southern white rhinos and three Indian rhinos. Both species face threats in the wild such as poaching and habitat loss and are classed as ‘near threatened’ (white rhino) and ‘vulnerable’ (Indian rhino), by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
West Midland Safari Park is getting ready for a pumpkin-packed celebration this Halloween season with its annual Spooky Spectacular event, and there is a mystery a-foot!
Beginning on 10 October, the three-week long event includes ‘Mystery of the Pumpkin Thief’, a brand-new interactive trail where children must help Grenith the Witch and her family members find out which critters are stealing their prized pumpkins from the Park’s new Pumpkin Patch.
Children will be given a scratchcard upon entering the park as part of the ‘COVID-friendly’ activity; and with Grenith’s magical enchantment, it will lead them all around the Discovery Trail in their quest to track down all the pumpkin thieves. Once completed the card, they will receive a magical sweet treat for their efforts.
As well as encountering some mysterious creatures along the way, witches and wizards from Grenith’s family are also joining the search and can be spotted around the trail interacting with guests tracking down the thieves.
Head of Marketing Vikki Green said, “We are super excited for this year’s Spooky Spectacular! Not only can guests see our incredible animals out on Safari enjoying the Halloween season including our new Indian rhino calf, they can also meet our favourite family of witches and wizards, The Grimleys, who have taken over the Discovery Trail.
“2020 also sees the addition of the Park’s very first pumpkin patch installation, which will likely become an iconic photo point this Halloween for guests. The Discovery Stage has also been transformed so visitors can take a socially distanced selfie with the Park’s witches and wizards.”
To celebrate the spookiest of seasons, the Park will be themed with over 1100 pumpkins and 55 illuminated scarecrows, which guests will be able to see in all their glory when they are illuminated after dark during the Park’s extended opening hours on weekends and half term. Brave guests will also be able to experience the Adventure Theme Park and Land of the Living Dinosaurs in the dark!
The Park is also running a competition throughout the event, where visitors have the chance to win a family Annual Pass. Participants must simply take their picture at one of the Park’s spooky locations and upload the post to Instagram or Facebook, tagging #WMSP. Guests are also encouraged to attend in Halloween fancy dress to join in with the frightful fun.
West Midland Safari Park are thrilled to announce the birth of their first Indian rhinoceros calf. Arriving on Tuesday 8th September at 2:29pm, the male calf. is the first Indian rhino to be born on site in the Park’s forty-seven-year history.
Deputy Head Keeper of Ungulates, Shelley Tudor, said “We are absolutely delighted and have been waiting a long time for this moment. After holding this species of rhino for over ten years, this is our first calf to be born at the Park.”
“We acquired Seto and Rap as youngsters and have been able to watch them grow and mature over time; which makes it even more momentous to see them produce their own calf. He is a very special addition to the Asian rhino House, and we look forward to watching him develop, and maybe go on to produce his own little rhinos in the future!”
The rhino calf’s parents, eleven-year-old Seto and twelve-year-old Rap, can often be spotted by guests at the Asiatic section of the drive-through Safari, near to the state-of-the-art Indian rhino House built at the Park in 2009. Both Seto and her calf are bonding well together in a private area where keepers can observe them at a safe distance as they settle in.
Also known as the Greater One Horned rhinoceros, Indian rhinos are placid animals who are often recognised for their armoured and prehistoric appearance. The new arrival is not currently available for viewing, but he will eventually join his family at the Wild Asia section of the reserve where guests will be able to spot him roaming the plains and having lots of fun, likely covered in mud!
The Park is home to two types of rhinos – six Southern White rhinos and three Asian rhinos. Both species face threats in the wild such as poaching and habitat loss and are classed as ‘near threatened’ (white rhino) and ‘vulnerable’ (Asian rhino), by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
The calf is currently un-named, but the Park can reveal it will begin with the letter ‘I’ mirroring the naming of all other animals born on-site in 2020. It’s clear to see already that he will have a lasting impact on West Midland Safari Park, in supporting their efforts in raising awareness of the vital preservation of this fantastic species.
Staff at West Midland Safari Park have thrown a big, ‘king-of-the-jungle-sized’ birthday party for their seven lion cubs, who are all celebrating their first birthday this year.
The youngsters, born on 27 August and 17 September 2019, have been a popular sight at the Worcestershire attraction over the last year and although are still referred to as ‘cubs’ by their team of keepers, they are more like adventurous teens.
To celebrate the occasion, keepers created a range of giant eye-catching, animal themed gift boxes, which were filled with tasty treats and placed inside the lion reserve. As soon as the cubs left their sleeping quarters, they were instantly drawn to the mysterious parcels and spent the morning feasting, playing and having a ‘roar-some’ time together. Even the adult lions couldn’t resist joining in the fun, rolling around with the cubs and showing age is just a number!
Kate Atkinson, Senior Carnivore Keeper, said, “All of the cubs have grown in confidence over the past year and it’s been great to observe them as they mature and develop. The cubs love to have fun destroying things, and all types enrichment – boxes, paper bags or even trees in the reserve – are regularly chewed and ripped apart as part of their play.
“The cubs all interact really well together, and we have been able to see their range of different personalities come out, which has been brilliant. For example, Hercules and Hunter are both very placid boys who really enjoy exploring and seeing what the keepers are up to, but then on the other hand we have Havoc, a playful soul that likes nothing more than fooling around with his older relatives and even trying to push the buttons of his Grandmother, Kayli. Our females are also flourishing, with Hira bringing the ‘sass’ to the pack and Natty showing her maternal side with her mother Scar.”
The two litters of cubs were born to ten-year-old female Scar (mother to Hunter, Hercules, and Hernatty) and seven-year-old female Amber (mother to Harabi, Hodge, Havoc and Hira), within three weeks of each other and are all half brothers and sisters.
The seven cubs, made up of five boys and two girls, were first introduced to visitors back in February and have had endless fun settling into their new home throughout the year. The male cubs can expect their distinctive manes to start to grow in when they reach the age of two, making them very easy for guests to recognise.
Over the coming year, guests will be able to see the cubs on Safari as they continue to grow and thrive as part of the park’s ‘fearsome’ African lion pride.
African Big Apple Coaster
Flying Lion Kings
Wild River Rafting
Dr. Umboto’s Catacombs
Jungle Cat Dodgems
Rescue Fire Rangers
Slippery Snake Slide
Zambezi Water Splash
Monkey Mayhem (if accompanied)
African Big Apple Coaster (if accompanied)
Jumbo Parade (if accompanied)
Pirate Ship (if accompanied)
Rhino Rollercoaster (if accompanied)
Shark Island (if accompanied)
Wild River Rafting (if accompanied by an adult)
Congo Carousel (if accompanied)
Hurtling Hippos (if accompanied)
Jungle Cat Dodgems (if accompanied)
Slippery Snake Slide (if accompanied)
Zambezi Water Splash (if accompanied by an adult)
Venom Tower Drop
Jungle Cat Dodgems
Slippery Snake Slide
To get your unique discount code, visit the relevant website and enter your details.
Blue Light Card: Click Here.
If you are not already a Blue Light Card or Defence Discount Service member, you can also sign up from these pages.
Please note, this offer is only available to those with Blue Light Card or Defence Discount Service membership and not just NHS/MOD cardholders.
A guided tour of the four-mile Safari by minibus is a great experience for the whole family. You will learn more about the animals and for the whole family to enjoy the experience. Our knowledgeable minibus drivers have special tales to tell and provide great entertainment for adults and children alike!
PLEASE NOTE: Children of all ages must have a ticket booked to ride the minibus. Face coverings will need to be worn throughout the duration of the Safari Tour. Our Safari Tours are undertaken in our Safari Minibuses and you may be seated next to other guests outside of your family group for the duration of the Tour.
Book seats online in advance when booking admission tickets:
Speak to our Experiences Team. Phone 01299 406461 or Email email@example.com
£7.00 per person (all ages)
Admission and ride wristbands are NOT included with the Minibus Tours and will need to be purchased separately.
Staff at West Midland Safari Park have been busy behind the scenes, to make an impact on the conservation of rhinos, including an important research paper, fundraising and saying goodbye to one of the herd.
Whilst the attraction has been closed, the Park’s wildlife team have continued to work hard, ensuring all of their residents are well cared for, as well as some additional tasks involving the important white rhino breeding programme.
The Park is home to a ‘crash’ of southern white rhinos, which are part of an EEP (European Endangered Species Programme). This is a collaboration between hundreds of European zoos to ensure the long-term survival of endangered species.
In March 2016, the Park celebrated their first white rhino birth for ten years. The male calf, Ekozu, has since enjoyed four years at the Midlands attraction, but on Wednesday 15 July, staff said an emotional farewell to the cheeky youngster as he left the Park for a new life at a safari park in Germany.
Lisa Watkins, Head Keeper of Ungulates, said “Ekozu was our first rhino born since his Dad, ten years previously, so he is particularly special to the team. We will miss his cheeky ways and his morning greetings for a fuss, but we are really pleased he is going to Serengeti Park, where we are sure he will feel right at home.
“Ekozu will be greatly missed by the team who have watched him grow and taken exceptional care of him since he was born. His departure comes after a great deal of planning and a collaboration between European zoos, working towards the same goal of conserving these amazing animals. We hope that Ekozu will be a hit with the female rhinos and will eventually sire his own family.”
The birth and move of Ekozu have been particularly important for Sarah Smith, the Park’s Veterinary Nurse, who has taken part in some key research and co-authored an important paper on the parturition (the act of giving birth) of rhinos in zoological settings.
The paper’s author, Dr Robert Hermes, is a veterinarian researcher at the Leibniz-Institute of Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin, Germany and has worked closely with the Park with several of their species, as an internationally recognised expert of wildlife reproduction.
Sarah explained, “Breeding overall is exceptionally important for the future of the rhino as a species, not only to increase numbers, but to also protect the breeding females alongside recognising and understanding any difficulties they may face during the whole process of pregnancy and parturition.
“This research has helped us identify different situations that arise in varying cases and given us an insight into how best to deal with them. We are extremely lucky to have a successful breeding programme and are grateful to be able to work closely with Robert Hermes and his team to be part of the research and future of the species.”
Another important collaboration West Midland Safari Park has been involved in, is a partnership with Save the Rhino International (SRI), alongside other zoos, to raise a phenomenal £179,968 to support rhino conservation efforts across Africa and Asia.
Last year, the Park held various fundraising activities for a particular project to support the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, which is home to the only viable captive population of Sumatran rhinos in the world.
Crucial funds raised by SRI, the Park and other partners, helped build extra enclosures and improve facilities, doubling the space available to breed this ‘Critically Endangered’ species (fewer than 80 individuals remain), and ensuring the highest standards of care, to help grow the population of an animal that without action, could become extinct.
The full report from SRI can be found here: https://www.savetherhino.org/impact/working-together-to-save-rhinos/
Now West Midland Safari Park is once again open to guests, staff hope to continue their work with rhino conservation and guests can help by making a donation to any of the donation pots around site.
Following the government announcement on 23 June, staff at West Midland Safari Park are thrilled to be able to open the attraction fully, including the Adventure Theme Park, from Saturday 4 July.
Since 15 June the Park has only been partially open, allowing guests to visit the four-mile safari drive-through. The announcement on Tuesday means the Park can now also reopen its walk-through attractions, rides, restaurants and shops.
Staff are continuing to work hard, ensuring that various safety measures are in place, such as regular disinfecting of public areas, additional hand sanitiser stations, limiting the number of people allowed to enter shops and restaurants and kitting out the theme park ride seats with stickers, to ensure social distancing is adhered to.
Additionally, the Park have invested in a highly effective product called ‘Zoono’, a revolutionary antimicrobial protection spray, which once applied lasts for 30 days, significantly reducing the spread of harmful bacteria and viruses, including Covid-19. This will be applied to all customer contact surfaces, including the rides.
Managing Director of the Park, Chris Kelly, said “We welcome the news that we can now open the rest of the Park, including the Adventure Theme Park. Our teams have been working incredibly hard to prepare all areas of the Park, ensuring our guests have a safe and enjoyable visit.
“Some of the new safety measures include leaving empty seats and rows on the rides, social distancing measures for the queues, kiosks and restaurants and limiting our daily admission numbers. We will be encouraging guests to continue to book online, so we can adhere to government guidance and safely manage how many people we admit to our Park. We look forward to welcoming more guests back soon and hope they have a great day with us.”
Summer is usually a very busy time for the Midlands attraction, but the Park is limiting visitor numbers, meaning that all guests will have to in advance, via the Park’s website: www.wmsp.co.uk, where they can also find information on the new safety measures.
Guests can also expect the number of tables in the restaurants to be reduced but takeaway options will be available from several other eateries.
West Midland Safari Park will be fully open from Saturday 4 July, with attractions including Land of the Living Dinosaurs, Ice Age exhibit, Discovery Trail and Boj’s Giggly Park playground.
Work has started at West Midland Safari Park for the first phase of their exciting, brand-new development, which includes onsite accommodation and upgraded animal facilities.
Eight exclusive, luxury ‘Safari Lodges’ will be integrated into the newly-updated animal habitats, overlooking African elephants and cheetahs, designed to give guests an up-close and personal, overnight wildlife experience like no other.
Nestled into their own secluded area, but fully immersed within the wildlife reserves, there will be six lodges offering the only overnight accommodation experience with elephants in the UK. Two more lodges will offer incredible views of the Park’s cheetahs – also the only experience of its kind in the UK.
To oversee and drive the development forward, Chris Kelly has joined the Park’s management team, as Accommodation and Venues Director. Chris is no stranger to this industry, sustaining a record of success at Port Lympne Hotel and Reserve, part of the Aspinall Foundation, where he held the title of Short Breaks Director for seven years.
Chris said, “I am delighted to be joining the team at West Midland Safari Park, at such an exciting time. I grew up in the Midlands and the Park has always been a favourite place to visit, since I was a youngster. To be operationally delivering the new wildlife development project and lodges, is such a fantastic opportunity for me and something I am already very passionate about.”
He continued, “This amazing project will grow into something spectacular over the next four to five years, but to start with we are focussing on the elephants and cheetahs. Not only will the new lodges offer guests the opportunity to stay onsite overnight for the first time, they also allow us to create upgraded, stimulating and enriching environments for the animals.
“Conservation is at the forefront of our minds when designing and building the lodges, so as part of this project, our net biodiversity gain will increase by 30%, creating more habitats such as woodlands and wildflower meadows, encouraging native wildlife. Revenue from the lodges will support improving the facilities for more of the Park’s amazing animals, as we work towards the next phases of development.”
The elephant lodges will be authentically themed with thatched roofs, accommodating up to six people. They will have large, open-plan living areas with lounge and dining area, plus a downstairs bedroom, as well as a large balcony with outdoor seating.
Upstairs will be a bedroom, offering spectacular views across the brand-new elephant habitats. Breakfast and evening meals are included, and guests are encouraged to make use of the outdoor terrace to enjoy their meals, whilst watching the elephants approach the pool in front of the lodges.
The two single-story, detached cheetah lodges will also sleep up to six people. The living space will have a large window, spanning one side of the building, offering panoramic views of the cheetahs in their new habitat. A floor-to-ceiling window offers similar, incredible views in the bedrooms.
Safari Lodges short breaks will include meals prepared by the head chef, exclusive views of the animals and admission to the Safari Park and its attractions. Wristbands for the rides for the Adventure Theme Park will also be included for those staying during the Park’s summer season. Each lodge will offer free Wi-Fi, TV, coffee machine and mini bar, filled with local produce.
Guests can sign-up for news, development updates and booking information, by visiting www.safari-lodges.co.uk.
The development is part of a long-term investment strategy from the Park’s owners, the Looping Group, which focusses on upgrading the animal facilities alongside improving the overall guest experience. The first phase of the development has ambitions for completion this summer.
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Seven African lion cubs at West Midland Safari Park have had a busy month, exploring their new home and meeting their father for the first time.
The two sets of cubs, now at around five months old, recently had their first day out on the safari, in preparation for meeting the guests for the first time on 15 February.
Although a bit hesitant at first, within no time, they were chasing each other around, playing with anything they could get their paws on and attempting to climb ‘lion rock’, the large, sculpted vantage point in the centre of their habitat.
Once used to their new surroundings, keepers introduced the youngsters to the rest of the pride, including dad, five-year-old Tsavo and his brothers, uncles Jilani and Jengo.
Head Keeper of Carnivores, Chris Hodgkins, said, “When we introduced the cubs to the rest of the pride, they were very inquisitive and not scared at all. If anything, the adults were more wary of the cubs, purely because they didn’t want to get a ‘telling off’ from the mothers, Amber and Scar, for getting too close! The youngsters are proving to be very mischievous and playful, plus they have so much confidence. We’ve watched them chase some of the adults around the safari, pounce on them whilst they’re sleeping, and tug their tails, so they are proving to be a bit of a handful!”
He continued, “First, introductions were made to the adults who have encountered cubs before, followed by the rest of the pride and finally to the three big males. The cubs showed no fear at all and ran straight over to Tsavo and his brothers where they were soon seen biting their ears and tails and tugging on their manes. The boys withstand this behaviour for a while, but when they’ve had enough, they let them know with a growl or a forceful pat on the head!”
Now the cubs have been introduced to the rest of the pride, they stay together as a group overnight and keepers often find the cubs snuggled up to a different ‘auntie’ or ‘uncle’ in the mornings.
The next steps for the cubs are to get them used to a few extra vehicles in the safari, ready for their debut with the public this half term and to celebrate, the Park will be hosting a few extra lion-themed activities.
Guests will be able to have a go on the Park’s new ‘Roar-o-Meter’, where they can see if they can roar as loud as a lion. Those who post their attempts on the Park’s Facebook page, will be in with the chance of winning a Family Annual Pass to the Safari Park.
Additionally, guests will be able to learn some fun facts about lions and see which members of the pride they have spotted out on the safari, by studying a new ID chart. The seven cubs, named Hunter, Hercules, Hernatty, Harabi, Hodge, Havoc and Hira, bring the total number of African lions at the Safari Park to 18.
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General information about West Midland Safari Park along with an assortment of logos can be found in our Press Pack.
Click on the link to download the Summer Press Pack (information valid until 6th November 2020).
The cat’s out of the bag at West Midland Safari Park as keepers announce the exciting arrival of two litters of incredibly cute African lion cubs.
After a gestation period of around four months, ten-year-old Scar gave birth to three cubs on 27 August 2019, with the second litter of four cubs following three weeks later on 17 September 2019, for seven-year-old Amber. Now with both sets of cubs around four months old, they are almost ready to meet the public.
Keepers suspected that the two females might be expecting after witnessing mating behaviour with dominant male, five-year-old Tsavo, who arrived at the Park with his two brothers in 2016. Tsavo is dad to both sets of cubs, making the seven adorable youngsters half-siblings.
As with all animals born at the Park in 2019, keepers have chosen names for the cubs beginning with the letter ‘H’. Scar’s cubs have been called Hunter, Hercules and Hernatty (two males and a female), whilst Amber’s are named Harabi, Hodge, Havoc and Hira (three males and a female).
Head Keeper of Carnivores, Chris Hodgkins, said, “We are so excited to share our news about our latest arrivals. As both Scar and Amber are first-time mums, we wanted to disturb them as little as possible, so this has meant keeping them away from the rest of the pride in a special area of our lion house. Now both sets of cubs have had all their vaccinations and have been introduced to each other, as well as some of the pride, they are almost ready to meet the public, from February half term.”
He continued, “Both mums gave birth to their litters with no struggles and have proven to be excellent mothers. We left them alone for the first few days, checking on them occasionally from a distance to make sure they were moving around and feeding well. Once the cubs became a bit more active, we started to introduce them to the different areas of the lion house, whilst the rest of the pride were out on the Safari. This gets them used to the different textures, sights and smells and it was great fun watching them tentatively take their first steps in the new areas.
“Once both sets of cubs had their vaccinations and health checks at eight weeks and twelve weeks old, we mixed the mothers and cubs together. The cubs instantly started playing together, chasing each other around and jumping all over both mums. They have been inseparable ever since and we often find them all cosied up together or playing.”
Over the next few weeks, keepers will start to introduce the cubs to the rest of the pride, including dad, Tsavo and uncles Jilani and Jengo. From February half term (15 February 2020), guests will be able to get their first glimpses of the fearsome felines, on the drive-through safari.
West Midland Safari Park has announced it will host a special recruitment event in January 2020, to source potential employees for the new summer season.
The annual recruitment event will take place on Tuesday 14 January, starting at 4:00pm and will be held in Treetops Pavilion, one of the many unique venues onsite.
A total of 140 roles are available across a range of departments including: Food and Beverages, Facilities, Retail and Admissions and the Theme Park. Start dates for the jobs will be from 1 February, ready for when the Park opens daily for its summer season on 15 February 2020.
The event consists of two parts, with the first part of the session including an informal discussion, to explore candidates’ skill sets, previous experience and qualifications. The Park’s team will then help to match these qualities to the role that suits each candidate and an interview with the relevant department will take place in the second half of the event.
HR Manager, Charlotte Stokes, said, “Our recruitment days have been very successful in the past, as it allows candidates to explore a range of different roles and meet existing members of staff to help find their perfect fit. The day is set and delivered in a relaxed tone and gives a great insight into working at the Park.
“Our potential employees will be able to find out about the variety of duties each role offers, along with flexible working hours in a fun and unique setting. For example, as a Facilities Assistant, at this time of year, you could be helping park cars one day, then decorating the Park’s Christmas trees the next! Many roles also come with opportunities to develop skills and progress to a supervisor level. We hope to see lots of potential future employees at our recruitment day!”
If successful, candidates will benefit from complimentary tickets to the Park, discounted tickets to events and 35% discount in selected outlets around the site. Employees are also part of a rewards and recognition scheme, which includes great family days out at UK attractions and great savings on big brands, travel, eating out and much more.
To register for this event, prospective employees need to do so on the Park’s website, where they can also find out more information about the day: www.wmsp.co.uk/careers.
Further information is available from the Park’s website www.wmsp.co.uk or by telephone 01299 402114. Find out more on the Safari Park’s official Facebook page: www.facebook.com/WestMidSafari.
Keepers at West Midland Safari Park have been getting into the Christmas spirit this week by treating their mob of mischievous meerkats to their very own Christmas tree.
As people up and down the country put up their decorations and hang baubles on their own Christmas trees, keepers have been busy ensuring that their Christmas decorations serve a greater purpose – to double as enrichment for the animals in their care.
The Park is currently celebrating the festive season with its annual Santa Safari event, in which over 350 trees have been ordered to help transform the Park’s Discovery Trail into a winter wonderland. Any surplus trees are donated to the animals.
For the meerkats, who are naturally inquisitive, smaller Christmas trees were planted in their enclosures and adorned with baubles full of one of their favourite treats – mealworms.
Deputy Head Keeper, Lisa Watkins, said, “The keepers at West Midland Safari Park work hard to provide our animals with lots of varied enrichment, which is a way of encouraging natural behaviours. As Christmas is fast approaching, we wanted to offer the meerkats a festive treat, so the spare Christmas trees were a perfect choice and stopped them from going to waste too.
“The trees provided our meerkats with lots of new textures and smells, plus also acted as an exciting new climbing frame to carry out sentry duty (when they climb somewhere high to look out for danger). We drilled small holes into the baubles and filled them with mealworms, which encouraged the meerkats to be physically and mentally active during the cold weather. They had to work at teasing the worms out of the holes, just like they would do in the wild and also enjoyed digging at the base of the tree, to try to topple it over!’
The meerkats weren’t the only animals benefitting from some seasonal enrichment, as the Park’s pair of Sumatran tigers, Hujan and Nakal, also enjoyed discovering the new smells and textures of their Christmas trees, with the added bonus of finding meat amongst the branches.
Guests visiting during Santa Safari, which is running on selected dates throughout December, might be lucky enough to spot other forms of festive enrichment around the Park, such as shiny baubles for the penguins, bamboo decorations for the lorikeets and cardboard box presents for the lions.
Additionally, during the event, families will be magically transported to the North Pole, where they will be able to pay a visit to Santa in his grotto. Children will get a memento of their day by having a picture of themselves with Santa to take home and they’ll be able to choose their very own present in the elves’ workshop.
Also included in the package is a visit to Mrs Claus’ Kitchen, where children can receive a drink and cookie, whereas adults are treated to a mulled wine and mince pie.
The meerkats and tigers can be seen as part of admission to Santa Safari.
Santa has been spotted meeting the residents of West Midland Safari Park, ahead of their Christmas event, which starts this weekend.
On selected dates from 16 November, the Park will be hosting its annual Santa Safari event, where guests can meet the big man himself and his jolly elf helpers.
To get settled in, Santa has been busy meeting his new neighbours, paying extra special attention to the baby animals who will be celebrating their first Christmas at the Park this year, including five-month-old penguin chicks, Hickory, Hotdog and Hummus.
Hickory is one of 22 Humboldt penguins who live in the Park’s Discovery Trail, which experiences a complete make-over during the Christmas period as it’s transformed into a magical winter wonderland.
Head of the Discovery Trail, Amy Sewell, said, “This Christmas is very exciting for our colony of Humboldt penguins at WMSP, as it will be three of our penguins’ first ever Christmas. Hotdog, Hickory and Hummus have already been treated with a special visit from Santa and it looks like all three girls will be on his ‘nice’ list, as they are very important animals. Humboldt penguins are ‘endangered’ in the wild so keepers at WMSP were over the moon when the three chicks hatched.”
She continued, “These three penguins are very playful, so as well as some tasty fish, Santa has left the keepers with some early Christmas presents, in the form of enrichment for the penguins to play with. Our guests might be lucky enough to see them playing in their pool on their way to Santa’s grotto.”
Whilst Santa becomes familiar with the Park’s residents, his elves have been very busy, setting up the magical grotto, planting over 350 Christmas trees and transforming the Discovery Trail with lights, baubles and layers of fluffy ‘snow’.
During the event, families will be magically transported to the North Pole, where they will be able to pay a visit to Santa in his grotto. Children will get a memento of their day by having a picture of themselves with Santa to take home and they’ll be able to choose their very own present in the elves’ workshop.
Also included in the package is a visit to Mrs Claus’ Kitchen, where children will receive a drink and cookie, whereas adults are treated to a mulled wine and mince pie.
The penguins can be seen in Penguin Cove, which along with the four-mile safari, walk-through attractions and Boj’s Giggly Park playground, is included in admission to Santa Safari.
West Midland Safari Park has been celebrating the spookiest of seasons by treating their hippos to a game of ‘pumpkin bobbing’!
The Park is home to a pod of six common hippopotamus – the largest pod in Europe, which spend most of their time wallowing on the mud bank next to their lake. They are most active when food is involved and normally enter the water at the daily hippo encounters.
At the encounters, the hippos are usually fed large chunks of cabbage, however, at this time of year, the Park is abundant with pumpkins – part of the theming for the Park’s Spooky Spectacular event, which runs until 3 November.
Therefore, to save the pumpkins going to waste, the keepers often swap the cabbage for the spooky squashes, which also forms part of the hippos’ daily enrichment programme, aiming to encourage natural behaviours.
Although a hippo would never come across a pumpkin in the wild, it is important that the hippos’ skin is always kept moist, so being inquisitive animals, the floating pumpkins help entice the animals into the water, even on colder days.
Ian Nock, Deputy Head Keeper of Ungulates, said, “It is an important part of a keeper’s job to try and provide enrichment in different ways for the animals in our care. The six hippos we have here at the Safari Park get cabbage daily at our hippo encounters, which guests can throw into the water for them. However, at this time of year the Park has been themed with over 600 pumpkins, so the keepers often swap these with the animals’ normal vegetables.”
He continued, “Being herbivores, a hippo’s diet consists of plants, grass and vegetables, so having pumpkins is a perfect seasonal treat for them. Plus, there is the added attraction that the pumpkins float, so this means that they get to play with them first, which provides extra exercise before getting to eat this tasty treat!”
As well as the pumpkins, during Spooky Spectacular, the Park is themed with 100 scarecrows, which guests will be able to see in all of their glory when they are illuminated after dark, during the Park’s extended opening hours on weekends and half-term. Brave guests will also be able to experience the Adventure Theme Park and Land of the Living Dinosaurs in the dark!
Additionally, guests can take part in a competition to win a family Annual Pass Plus by taking their picture with a spooky character and uploading it to the Park’s Facebook page. Guests are also encouraged to attend in Halloween fancy dress to join in with the frightful fun.
Guests can book online in advance for Spooky Spectacular for savings of up to 30%. During the event they can see the hippos and take part in their daily feeds.
A keeper at West Midland Safari Park is celebrating with her colleagues, after becoming ‘top student’ on a national course for training zoo keepers.
Kate Atkinson, 27, a carnivore keeper at the Safari Park, beat a hundred other animal keepers to gain a national award for her performance on the DMZAA (Diploma in the Management of Zoo and Aquarium Animals) course, which is run by Sparsholt College in Hampshire.
The two-year course, developed between the college and BIAZA (the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums), is recognised internationally and is considered to be the most relevant qualification for animal keepers to gain, whilst working within a zoo, aquarium or safari park.
Penny Hounsome, Curriculum Leader of Zoo Animal Studies at Sparsholt College, said, “Winning the annual BIAZA award for ‘Best Performance on the DMZAA Course’, represents the culmination of two years of dedicated study for Kate. To sustain such high grades for this length of time, over 18 modules of study as well as still working full time, is really something to be proud of. Everyone involved in supporting Kate during the programme are delighted to recognise her for this achievement.
“Kate has also beaten strong competition to come out as the top student in her year group, since the DMZAA course (run for BIAZA through The National Zoo Academy at Sparsholt College) qualifies up to a hundred animal keepers and aquarists each year! The course continues to develop in partnership with BIAZA, and still sets the ‘gold standard’ for keeper education in zoos across the UK and Ireland. I fully expect to see and hear more of Kate in the industry, as her career continues to shine!”
Kate started her zookeeping career as an intern at Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in 2012. She then completed an internship at West Midland Safari Park in 2013, where she progressed to be employed as an animal keeper, working on the hoofstock and carnivore sections.
Kate said, “The award was always an achievement that people spoke about, but I never imagined getting. So, to win this award after a hard two years of balancing my job and the course, I am absolutely thrilled, especially as many colleagues from the Park supported and encouraged me along the way. With the course qualification and the award, I was able to apply for a senior keeper position after graduation – another target I never thought I’d be able to achieve!”
On Friday 18 October, Penny, along with the Regional Course Coordinator, Dr David Beeston, came to the Safari Park to present Kate with her award and certificate, in front of an audience of Kate’s colleagues, family and senior management. She also received a special “congratulations” from Dr Madelon Willemsen, the CEO of BIAZA, via a Skype call.
Kate is a Senior Carnivore Keeper at the Safari Park and spends her days caring for the Park’s pride of African lions. This involves feeding them, cleaning the lion house, target training the three male lions, patrolling the reserves and creating enrichment for the lions to interact with.
West Midland Safari Park is getting ready to charm guests this Halloween season with its annual Spooky Spectacular event and this year, there’s magic in the air!
Beginning on 19 October, the two-week long festival includes ‘Potion Quest’, a brand-new interactive trail where children must help Wilbert the Wizard with a spell to reunite his family.
By navigating their way around the Park’s Discovery Trail, guests will encounter a number of mischievous witches and wizards, who are each guarding a different ingredient to Wilbert’s potion. Once they have collected all of the ingredients in their potion bottles, they will receive a magical sweet treat for their efforts.
Head of Marketing, Rochelle Zare, said, “We’re so excited for this year’s Spooky Spectacular. Not only will guests be able to see our incredible animals enjoying the Halloween season on safari, but they’ll also be able to interact with our resident family of witches and wizards, ‘The Grimleys’!
“As dusk falls across the Safari Park, we hope lots of families are able to join in the Halloween fun and help head wizard, Wilbert, in his quest to find all the hidden ingredients across the Park’s Discovery Trail. Guests can check the Park’s website to find out when they’ll catch our witches and wizards, as well as finding out what other spooky happenings are taking place at West Midland Safari Park!”
To celebrate the spookiest of seasons, the Park will be themed with over 600 pumpkins and 100 scarecrows, which guests will be able to see in all of their glory when they are illuminated after dark, during the Park’s extended opening hours on weekends and half-term. Brave guests will also be able to experience the Adventure Theme Park and Land of the Living Dinosaurs in the dark!
Spooky Spectacular runs from 19 October to 3 November and is included in the standard admission charge.
West Midland Safari Park is pleased to announce that planning has been granted for the first phase of development at the popular visitor attraction.
Since the Looping Group’s requisition of the Park in December 2018, the in-house Development Team has been working on a long-term investment strategy, which focusses on upgrading the animal facilities, as well as improving the overall guest experience.
Now that plans have been approved by the Wyre Forest District Council, work will commence in October 2019, starting with brand-new, state-of-the-art housing and outdoor spaces for the Park’s African elephants and cheetahs, as well as a new ungulate house and muck clamp.
Head of Wildlife, Angela Potter, said, “The Wildlife Team is delighted that planning has been granted for the new development for our much-loved animals. We have been working very closely with the Development Team to ensure that the new facilities provide stimulating and enriching environments for the animals, as well as an amazing immersive experience for our guests.
“The new facilities for our African elephants have been designed to include outdoor pools, enrichment areas such as mud wallows, dust baths and multiple feeding areas, plus it gives them the opportunity for 24-hour roaming. The development means we will have the space to increase the numbers in our herd and will subsequently enable us to continue our important work within the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme.”
Similarly to the elephants, the cheetahs’ new habitat has been designed to be as close to their natural environment as possible and includes a large outdoor space, with pools, high vantage points, enrichment feeders and natural shelters.
In addition to the new animal facilities, integrated into the new exhibits will be eight exclusive, luxury lodges, introducing the opportunity for guests to stay overnight, giving them an up-close and personal wildlife experience like no other.
The first phase of the new development has ambitions for completion in the summer of 2020.
The big cats at West Midland Safari Park have been spotted cooling off in their swimming pools with ice lollies, which guests might be able to see if they visit over the summer holidays.
To coincide with the current heatwave and the Park’s extended opening hours for their Summer Nights event, carnivore keepers at the visitor attraction have been looking for ways to keep the lions and tigers nice and cool throughout the day, as well as provide enrichment for both the animals and guests to enjoy.
One simple, but very effective way of doing this, is by providing ‘bath toys’, which are placed in the pools around the carnivore reserves. These tempt the lions and tigers to then play in the pools, which is quite a spectacle for onlooking guests.
Another tactic is making ice lollies, suitable for a carnivore’s palette, so instead of being made of fruit, juice and water, are made of meat frozen in a mix of water and blood!
Head Keeper of Carnivores, Chris Hodgkins, said, “A huge part of our roles as keepers is providing the animals in our care with varied enrichment. This is very important, as it helps enhance the quality of their environment and care, as well as satisfying their behavioural and physiological needs. Different forms of enrichment involve food, sensory, social, cognitive and physical.
“Food is always very successful and can be used to encourage natural behaviours such as hunting. We do this by hiding meat or giving it to them in a challenging way by hanging the meat high or giving them frozen blood blocks. The pools are a form of physical enrichment and provide them with a place to bathe, drink and cool down. You will often see them cooling off or having a splash, especially over the summer in the warm weather.”
He continued, “During our extended hours of opening for Summer Nights, we provide daily enrichment that helps stimulate the cats for longer. Guests will be able to spot this whilst driving around the safari throughout the day and into the evenings.”
Summer Nights runs from 1 August – 1 September and guests will have more time to discover all the Park has to offer, including the four-mile, drive-through safari, walk-through attractions, Adventure Theme Park and animal encounters.
During Summer Nights, the Park will be open from 9:30am – 7:30pm. The lions and tigers can be seen the four-mile drive-through safari.
Keepers are celebrating at West Midland Safari Park, following the appearance of a ‘critically endangered’ teeny-tiny pancake tortoise.
The miniscule youngster who hatched from its egg on the afternoon of 10 July, is about the size of a bottle-top, which is what is currently being reused as a water bowl for the tiny hatchling.
Although the gender of the adorable new arrival is yet to be discovered, it has been named ‘Hartley’ by its keepers. Hartley is the second success of the Park’s breeding programme for pancake tortoises, following the hatching of older half-brother ‘Finn’, who became an internet sensation in 2017, due to his minute size.
Now, exactly two years on, although Hartley’s birth is great news for the Safari Park, the news for wild pancake tortoises isn’t as positive.
Deputy Head Keeper of the Discovery Trail, Steve Slater, explained, “When Finn, our first baby pancake tortoise, hatched in 2017, the conservation status of his species was classed as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Since then, the IUCN have reviewed the status and have found that the population of the species is drastically declining, so now list the species as ‘critically endangered’.”
He continued, “The wild population has decreased by 80% in 30 years, mainly due to habitat destruction and over-exploitation for the pet trade. Our tortoises are part of a European Breeding Programme, for which we work with other European zoos in a vow to support tortoise conservation in a regulated and ethical environment. Although the new hatchling is teeny-tiny, Hartley is already a big part of saving his species.”
Hartley’s appearance has been eagerly anticipated by keepers at the Park, as pancake tortoises have a very slow reproductive rate and then the eggs have a very lengthy incubation period – Hartley’s egg was laid in January and took 178 days to develop and hatch!
Pancake tortoises are so-called because of their flat shells. Unlike other tortoises, their shells are flexible, making them lighter and speedier too. Hartley brings the number of pancake tortoises at the Park to five.
Baby animals of Hartley’s size have to be monitored by keepers, so will not be on show until he’s a lot bigger. The adult pancake tortoises can be seen the Reptile House, located in the Discovery Trail.
Keepers at West Midland Safari Park are celebrating the birth of three tiny, cute and incredibly fluffy chinchilla babies!
The long-tailed chinchilla youngsters, known as ‘kits’ were born to first-time parents, Gladys and Julian, who can normally be seen in the Park’s Friendly Animal Encounters and Safari Academy classroom sessions.
Keepers suspected that Gladys may have been pregnant as she was putting on a lot of weight, as discovered in her weekly health checks. After they had alerted the Park’s veterinary team to their suspicions, the vet confirmed Gladys was pregnant and promptly put her on ‘maternity leave’.
During their afternoon rounds on 1 June, keepers were excited to find the three tiny balls of fluff, no bigger than a ping pong ball, cuddled up with their mum.
Head Keeper of the Discovery Trail, Amy Sewell, said, “At present we have two adult long-tailed chinchillas by the names of Gladys and Julian and we are over the moon that they have become first-time parents to three incredibly cute kits. Gladys is doing a great job of looking after all three, which is a hard task, as the kits are already exploring their surroundings!”
She continued, “Unlike a lot of mammal species, the kits are born almost as tiny replicas of their parents, with their eyes open, a full coat of fur and are very mobile. Although they rely on mum’s milk for the first few days, ours are already on solids! Their birth is great news for us as their wild counterparts in South America, are currently classed as ‘endangered’, with the population declining by 90% in the last 15 years.
“Gladys is currently on maternity leave, but Jullian can still be seen at the new purpose-built animal encounter stage, which provides a great opportunity to educate our guests about these incredible animals during our daily talks.”
All babies born at the Park during 2019 have to have names beginning with the letter ‘H’, so the two baby boys have been named Hodor and Hercules and the girl has been called Helena.
The chinchilla kits are another addition to the Park’s recent baby boom, with the appearance of three dhole pups in March, two penguin chicks in May and a Persian fallow deer fawn in June.
Long-tailed chinchillas are classed as ‘endangered’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). They have been threatened for years by human activities such as poaching, hunting, the pet trade and their habitats being used for mining and grazing by domestic cattle and goats.
Staff at West Midland Safari Park are celebrating after winning two prestigious, national awards, recognising excellence in photography and service to group travel.
Both prizes have been awarded by national organisations, who are very significant to the Park, the first being BIAZA (British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums), who host the National Zoo & Aquarium Photo Awards annually.
Sponsored by Wildlife Vets International, the annual competition welcomes an array of striking photography submissions, highlighting just some of the 2,000 plus species that are cared for in British and Irish zoos and aquariums, as well as the global conservation work they support.
Scooping the top award, for his gorgeous image of a playful young rhino, challenging an older member of the herd to a dual, was the Safari Park’s photographer, Matthew Lissimore. Matthew said, “It’s a real privilege being able to observe and photograph animals as part of my job at West Midland Safari Park. Spending time with these animals and getting to know their habits, allows me to witness intimate moments in their lives. I hope that through my photography and creative work I can help to raise awareness for the conservation of threatened species in the wild.”
The second award was for “Best Animal or Sea Life Attraction for Groups”, presented to the Park by Michaela Strachan at the 2019 Group Travel Awards in London.
Sue Day, the Group Visit Co-ordinator at the Park said, “We welcome many group and coach parties to our attraction throughout the year, for both standard day visits and a variety of special events like Santa Safari. We really are so proud to be the recipients of this award and to be recognised for continuing to deliver a fantastic day out to our guests. To be singled out as the ‘best’ by these visitors is praise indeed!”
This is the sixth time since 2011 that the Park has won the award and is highly coveted, as is voted for by visitors and recognises the best suppliers to the group travel industry.
Take the main Hagley Road to the Quinton Expressway A456 through Hagley and Blakedown following Safari Park signs through Kidderminster to Bewdley.
Take the A449 to Kidderminster. Take the A456 to Bewdley. From the North: Take the M6 South, leave on exit 8 and join the M5. Take the M5 to exit 3 and follow the A456 through Kidderminster to Bewdley.
Take the M5 North, leave on exit 6 and follow the A449 to Kidderminster. Take the A456 to Bewdley
Meet a sea lion up close and personal as you teach them some tricks and receive a kiss on the hand as a thank you! You will watch one of our daily Sea Lion Shows and be invited up on their stage!
£30.00 per person (5+ years).
Admission and ride wristbands are NOT included in the Sea Lion Show Experience.
Since the Looping Group’s requisition of West Midland Safari Park in December 2018, the Park’s in-house Development Team has been working on a long-term investment strategy for future development at the site, of which plans were submitted to the Wyre Forest District Council last week.
The Park’s planning submission details the first phase of development, which, if granted, is due to commence in October 2019, with ambitions for completion in June 2020. The plans focus on upgrading the Park’s animal facilities, as well as improving the overall guest experience, by introducing the option for guests to stay onsite overnight in unique accommodation.
Managing Director of the Park, Darren Chorley, said, “This exciting new development will see new facilities being built for our African elephants and cheetahs, creating habitats that are as close to the species’ natural environment as possible. Working closely with our Wildlife Team, we have ensured that these environments are stimulating and enriching, giving shelter and 24-hour access to both indoor and outdoor spaces.
“Integrated into the new exhibits will be luxury, exclusive lodges, designed to give the occupants an up-close and personal overnight wildlife experience like no other. Guests will be able to extend their stay by booking overnight accommodation at one of eight lodges which will sit on the boundaries of the reserves, with views overlooking the elephant and cheetah areas. We hope this represents the start of an exciting new future at West Midland Safari Park.”
West Midland Safari Park’s keepers are getting in a flap about some cute new arrivals in the Park’s Penguin Cove.
Two fluffy, grey Humboldt penguin chicks have started to emerge from their nests and are beginning to explore their new home, under the watchful eyes of their parents – pairs Elm and Elder and Ash and Juniper.
At just five and seven weeks old, the chicks’ protective parents allowed keepers to weigh the chicks and give them a quick health check, confirming that both pairs of parents are doing a great job at rearing the youngsters.
All babies born at the Park during 2019 have to have names beginning with the letter ‘H’ and the penguin keepers take the naming strategy one step further, by using a theme too. This year keepers have gone for a food theme and have lovingly named the chicks ‘Hotdog’ and ‘Haggis’.
Head Keeper of the Discovery Trail, Amy Sewell, said, “We have a colony of 19 adult Humboldt penguins at West Midland Safari Park, which are involved in a European Breeding Programme. These penguins are ‘vulnerable’ in the wild, with numbers as low as 12,000 – just 4,000 breeding pairs.
“With these numbers in mind, we were very excited that on 1 May first time parents, Elder and Elm, successfully had their first chick. Both parents are doing really well and share care of little Hotdog. Hotdog is already starting to leave the nest, so guests might be lucky enough to see him/her when they visit Penguin Cove.”
She continued, “Two weeks later, on 12 May, we were thrilled to find that another couple, Juniper and Ash, had become parents to a chick we have named ‘Haggis’. Haggis is remaining in the nest for now, but both chicks are doing really well and this breeding effort will go towards safeguarding the future survival of the Humboldt penguin.”
In the wild, Humboldt penguins inhabit the coasts of Peru and Chile and dig burrows into the sand or find small caves and crevices in which to lay their eggs. They also use their droppings to make their nests, which is more commonly known as ‘guano’.
Unfortunately, wild Humboldt penguin numbers are declining, due to overfishing of the penguins’ prey, risk of being caught in fishing nets, severe weather and climate change, plus historical decline from humans harvesting guano and their eggs.
The penguins first arrived at the Park in 2012, from zoos in the UK and Germany. The two chicks bring the number of Humboldt penguins at the Park to 21.
Keepers at West Midland Safari Park are celebrating the arrival of three incredibly cute, endangered dhole (Asiatic wild dog) pups.
The three boisterous youngsters were born on 9 March, but keepers have only recently met the pups face-to-face, as for the first ten weeks of their lives, they were kept hidden away in their den by seven-year-old mum, Berri.
Luckily, staff were alerted to the pups’ appearance when they noticed some tiny, wriggling fluff-balls, being carefully washed by their dad, Douglas, on the dhole house CCTV.
Like a domestic puppy, the dhole pups had their first veterinary check, microchips and vaccinations at ten weeks old. This also gave staff the chance to see what gender the pups were too – two boys and a girl.
This was fantastic news for Head Keeper, Lawrence Bates, who had already decided to name the pups after three of his team – Huw, Harry and Holly. This also fits with the Park’s naming practice that every animal born in 2019, must start with the letter ‘H’.
Senior Carnivore Keeper, Huw Owen-Jones said, “It is an honour to lend our names to such brilliant animals. Dholes are classed as ‘endangered’ in the wild, so it’s great news for the species that we have such a successful breeding programme at the Park.
“The three pups are already developing individual personalities – Huw and Harry have already started squabbling, whilst Holly is a bit more reserved and sits back and takes it all in. Mum Berri has done a great job and is a really relaxed parent, taking it all in her stride. Douglas (the pups’ dad) on the other hand is very overprotective and seems to keep watch over them more than mum. The pups had their first day out on the Safari this week and Douglas was always nearby. He’s great at taking them food and ensures they are always looked after.”
The dholes at the Safari Park are part of a European Breeding Programme, which marks a second success, following the birth of the first litter of pups in 2015. They bring the total number of dholes at the Park to 11.
Packs of dholes are very social and work together to care for all members. The pups are lucky enough to have lots of ‘aunties and uncles’ who bring them food, play with them and look after them. One member of the pack, Bella, even spent a lot of time in the den when they were first born, helping to keep the pups warm.
Dholes are classed as ‘endangered’ by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), due to threats such as habitat loss, depletion of prey and persecution, stemming from retaliatory killings due to livestock predation.
Families from around the county enjoyed a special day out at West Midland Safari Park thanks to an initiative launched by the Worcestershire Ambassadors.
In a first for the group, families from across Worcestershire revelled in the delights of the local attraction at the weekend. The Worcestershire Ambassadors teamed up with West Midland Safari Park to host the event, who kindly gifted over 400 tickets, enabling the families to enjoy a special day out.
Having raised over £500k for local charities over nearly two decades, this year the Worcestershire Ambassadors are focussing on mental health organisations in the county, namely St Paul’s Hostel and Worcester Community Trust. Amongst the charities invited to enjoy the day out were Mentorlink, Where Next, WPCC, New College Worcester and New Hope, Worcester.
Managing Director of the Park, Darren Chorley, said: “It was a great pleasure to support the Worcestershire Ambassadors for their family fun day. They do such brilliant work within our community, so we were honoured to host families from the charities they support and provide them with a great day out. We hope everyone had a fantastic day with us and we look forward to working with them again in the future.”
Jean Wilson MBE, founder of New Hope, Worcester said, “Our families really enjoyed their day out at the safari park on Sunday 2nd June. Following on from their visit they will taking part in activities at New Hope related to the animals they saw during their visit, the children especially enjoyed interacting with the parrots! Thank you to Worcestershire Ambassadors for enabling our families to access the Safari Park for the day we are all very grateful.”
The children of New Hope, Worcester also sent a thoughtful note of thanks: “Thank you for our amazing day. Love from the children at Newhope xx” making the event extra special.
The Worcestershire Ambassadors are a group of individuals who share a common passion for Worcestershire and an enthusiasm to create a county to be proud of. In promoting Worcestershire, they work in partnership with various other groups in the County including The Chamber of Commerce, The Local Enterprise Partnership, University of Worcester and Worcestershire County Council.
Further information about Worcestershire’s number one tourist attraction can be found on the Safari Park’s website www.wmsp.co.uk or official Facebook page: www.facebook.com/WestMidSafari. For details about the Worcestershire Ambassadors go to: https://www.worcestershireambassadors.com/.
West Midland Safari Park will be hosting a special fundraising week during May half term, dedicated to the conservation of endangered rhinos.
Rhino Week will run from 25 May to 2 June and guests will be able to take part in a whole host of fun activities, whilst learning some interesting rhino facts and helping to raise funds for Save the Rhino International (SRI).
There will also be the chance to meet the Park’s Indian (also known as greater one-horned) rhinos, during an exclusive Rhino Conservation Evening on 30 May. Michaela Butorova and Jack Bedford, SRI’s Partnerships Manager and Fundraising Officer, will be giving a fascinating talk about the plight of rhinos and the important work the charity does to save these endangered animals.
Following the talk, guests will be taken to the Indian Rhino House to meet and feed the Park’s three charismatic Indian rhinos, Rap, Seto and Sunanda.
Research and Conservation Officer, Katie McDonald, said, “Rhino conservation is more important than ever at the moment. Levels of poaching of rhino for their horns are at high levels and the amount of habitat available to rhinos is shrinking. Dedicated conservation organisations, such as Save the Rhino International, are working to prevent the worldwide population of rhinos from decreasing overall.
She continued, “Many different measures combined – employing anti-poaching rangers, running breeding sanctuaries, protecting habitat and educating people to stop them purchasing rhino horn – are making a positive difference. However, it really is make or break time. Two of the five species of rhino – Javan and Sumatran rhino, have wild populations with fewer than 80 individuals. Once numbers are down this low a single disease outbreak could result in extinction.
“769 rhinos were killed by poachers in South Africa alone last year. Everyone who cares about wildlife wants to stop the cruelty to animals and the threats to the species. This is why we are asking our guests to help to support two important rhino conservation projects, through fundraising for Save the Rhino International, during Rhino Week.”
During the week-long event, guests will be able to visit a Rhino Information Station where they can see some rhino artefacts, find out what the Park’s rhinos eat, learn about the eleven rhinos at the Park and enter a competition to win a cuddly toy rhino.
There will also be a photo competition where guests can compare their height with white rhinos Ailsa and Granville, then post it on the Park’s Facebook page for a chance to win a Safari Park Family Annual Pass.
Additionally, people can even get involved with the fundraising from the comfort of their own sofa by visiting www.wmsp.co.uk/rhinofund. Everyone who donates £5 or more to the Park’s JustGiving page, will be entered into a draw to win a ‘Money can’t buy VIP Rhino Experience’.
Tickets for the Rhino Conservation Evening are £40 for the talk and to meet the Indian Rhinos, or attend just the talk for £5. Visit http://www.wmsp.co.uk/wmsp-events/rhino-week and follow the link for the ‘Save the Rhino Evening’. Profits from ticket sales, donations, competitions and all the funds raised during Rhino Week will go directly to Save the Rhino International.
Keepers at West Midland Safari Park have thrown a birthday party for their youngest elephant and invited some very special guests along to help him celebrate.
Children from the reception class at Bewdley Primary School have spent the week making preparations for African elephant, Sutton’s, fifth birthday party, including wrapping presents, decorating a big balloon and making party hats.
As the children are all aged five themselves, they knew exactly what a young elephant turning the same age would like and suggested that no party is complete without a cake. Keepers agreed and prepared a huge triple-tiered, elephant-friendly cake, which the children then decorated.
The children and keepers then watched as Sutton excitedly opened his presents and shared his cake and birthday treats with his mum, 27-year-old Five.
Head of Elephants, Andy Plumb, said, “All three of our elephants are very special to us, but we especially like to celebrate Sutton’s birthday as he was born at the Park, so we’ve literally watched him grow from day one. We wanted to do something special for his fifth birthday, as the number five is very significant to Sutton in particular – not only is his mum called ‘Five’, he was also born on the fifth day of the fifth month (5th May) at 5:30pm!
“We always like to include the local community with what’s happening at the Park, so we thought what better party guests for Sutton’s birthday than a bunch of local five-year-olds! The children had clearly worked very hard to come up with ideas for the birthday party and we loved seeing them in their elephant party hats, having just as much fun decorating the cake as Sutton did eating it.”
Sutton is the first and only baby elephant to be born at the Park in its 46-year history and was eagerly awaited, following a lengthy 22-month pregnancy. He was born under extraordinary circumstances, as was the second elephant calf in the world born following artificial insemination, using frozen semen from a wild bull elephant.
Sutton was named after inspirational teenager Stephen Sutton, following a Facebook competition where over 4,000 people chose the name as a tribute. Stephen had visited the Park and had his picture taken with Five in January 2014, before Sutton was born, as part of his bucket list to “Hug an animal that is bigger than me”.
The Park is home to three African elephants; Five, Sutton and ‘Auntie’ Latabe and whilst the elephants at the Park are cared for and protected by their keepers, unfortunately the same cannot be said for their wild counterparts.
African elephants are classed as ‘vulnerable’ by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), due to threats such as poaching, habitat loss, illegal hunting and human-elephant conflict. The Park supports elephant charities and projects such as ‘Tusk’ and the ‘Mali Elephant Project’ by fundraising for them during conservation weeks and talks.
This experience gives you the chance to meet and participate in the feeding of our lemurs in one of the largest Lemur Woods in the UK. This is a truly unique experience which gets you up close to our friendly lemurs.
£40.00 per person (aged over 12 years. Children aged 12-15 years must be accompanied by an adult to watch from the path.)
Admission and ride wristbands are NOT included in the Lemur Feed Experience.
This experience provides you with the opportunity to pop the question in a way you and your partner will never forget. Meet and feed our troop of lemurs, then, when the time is right, it will be over to you for the big moment. We will provide a bouquet of flowers and champagne to celebrate.
£175.00 for two people
This experience provides you with the opportunity to pop the question in a way you and your partner will never forget. Meet and feed our lions in the state-of-the-art Lion House then. when the time is right, it will be over to you for the big moment. We will provide a bouquet of flowers and champagne to celebrate.
£350.00 for two people
This experience offers a thrilling morning spent in the company of some of our most popular cats. Meet and feed our tigers, cheetahs and lions here at the Park during this 90-minute experience. You will also have a private tour of the state-of-the-art Lion House.
£400.00 per person or £700.00 for two people (aged 16+ years).
8.30am – Arrive at WMSP main drive and pull over on the left-hand side. Please remain in your vehicle and your Safari Guide will greet you. They will then direct you to park in the main car park and then embark on our special Safari vehicle.
8.40am – Arrive with your Safari Guide at our African Lion House, where you will be met by our experienced Carnivore Keepers and tour the lion facility. You will help the Keepers let the lions out into the Lion Reserve. You will then embark into our specially-designed lion-feeding cage for the experience of a lifetime. You will drive into the midst of our Lion Reserve and will get the opportunity to feed them.
9.45am – Your Safari guide will take you next to Cheetah Plains where you will meet the Cheetah Keepers and feed some of our cheetahs.
10.15am – Next stop is Tiger Ridge where our Tiger Keepers will meet you and will explain our tiger enrichment and training regimes. You will also get the opportunity to feed one of our tigers. Your Safari Guide will take photographs of all your encounters, which we will put on a memory stick for you to take home.
10.45am – Your Guide will take you to Dino Diner for a hot drink and a snack.
11.15am – You are now free to spend the rest of the day at your leisure in the Safari Drive-through, Discovery Trail, and African Village.
Students attending West Midland Safari Park’s Animal Courses have had a great start to the year, with some excellent exam results and exceeding the national pass rate.
The Park’s Education team currently run three accredited courses, from levels one to three, in their Safari Academy – a state-of-the-art, purpose-built education centre, which opened in May 2017. The courses are run in conjunction with Kidderminster College, part of Birmingham Metropolitan College (BMET).
Students managed to exceed the national level for a ‘pass’, achieving a high number of merits and distinctions for; Level 2 Technical Certificate in Animal Care, Level 3 Advanced Technical in Animal Management and Level 3 Advanced Technical Extended Diploma in Animal Management.
Education Manager, Nicola Anslow, said, “We are delighted with the excellent results achieved by all of our Animal Care and Animal Management students this year. It is a testament to the dedication of the Park’s Education team and the hard work put in by our students.
“To have results that are above the national average for both year groups in level 3, and to have obtained our best ever results for level 2 in the same year, is fantastic. We are very proud that we are able to go some way to inspiring the next level of conservationists.”
The courses are planned annually by Course Co-ordinator Ali Burton. She said, “We are so proud of the young adults that our students are becoming. We hope that many of them will go on to make valuable contributions in the industry or pursue their goals of moving on to university.”
Following the results, the students will now decide to either continue their education at the Safari Park and advance to the next level, or leave the Safari Academy to go to university or find a work alternative.
Students study at the Park from one to four years dependent upon the course. The courses are run in partnership with Kidderminster College and BMET who complete the programme of study with extra English, maths, digital skills and pastoral care.
For those interested in studying an animal related course from Level 1 upwards, they can contact the Safari Park Education Team on 01299 404888 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
West Midland Safari Park is kick-starting its new season with Explorers Week, a fun-filled half term event, centred around the Ice Age.
From 16 February, the Park is once again open daily and to celebrate the start of the summer season, guests are invited to come and explore the Park’s many attractions, including the Ice Age exhibit, newly opened last year.
During the event, guests will be encouraged to help onsite palaeontologist, Dr. Nock, find some missing Ice Age animals. They will have to search and explore the Park’s Ice Age exhibit, collecting facts about the amazing animals they encounter. Once they have completed this challenge, they will be able to collect a prize.
There will also be the option to do some fun arts and crafts in the Craft Club and be in with the chance of winning a Safari Park Annual Pass, by taking a selfie with the Park’s woolly mammoths.
Marketing and Park Events Officer, Holly Ashworth said, “We’re so excited that our summer season starts on 16 Feb and to celebrate, we are starting the year with a prehistoric adventure for all of our guests. During the schools’ half term, our new Ice Age-themed Explorers Week offers lots of fun for children and adults alike. We hope families will bring along their little explorers and will enjoy searching for the missing animals, whilst learning some fun facts along the way.”
Additional to all of the Explorers Week activities, the Adventure Theme Park will be open again, where guests can enjoy a number of rides; from plummeting 30ft to the ground on Venom Tower Drop, to a leisurely ride on the Congo Carousel.
There is also the four-mile self-drive safari, where guests can spot the latest babies – Grace and Gamba the Grévy’s zebra foals, Gerald the baby Rothschild’s giraffe and southern white rhino calf, Granville.
Love is in the air this Valentine’s Day at West Midland Safari Park, as their troop of ring-tailed lemurs celebrate with some romantic enrichment.
The Park is home to a troop of 13 ring-tailed lemurs, who can be found foraging, playing and relaxing as a family in the Lemur Woods, usually under the watchful eye of their keepers.
As a special treat for the most romantic day of the year, the keepers included some red roses in their daily enrichment, hiding the flowers around the woods, and concealing some of the lemurs’ favourite treats amongst the petals.
Deputy Head Keeper, Shelley Tudor, said, “Our troop of ring-tailed lemurs are incredibly charismatic – every single one has its own individual personality and after spending a bit of time with them, it’s not hard to see why the keepers and guests love them!”
She continued, “The troop is one big happy family, led by the dominant female Hery and male Irish. It was great to see the lemurs excitedly finding the roses, passing them to each other and investigating the new smells, textures and tastes. Although we don’t think we will be adding roses to their daily menu, as most enjoyed using the flowers as new play-things rather than a snack!”
This is not the first time the lemurs have been involved with a bit of romance. As a special VIP Experience, animal-lovers can surprise their significant other during a lemur feed proposal experience, popping the question in a way the happy couple will never forget, surrounded by the loveable primates.
Although the Park’s lemurs are well-loved by their keepers, for their wild counterparts, life isn’t as rosy. The heartbreaking reality is that lemurs are one of the most threatened mammal groups, with wild ring-tailed lemurs being listed as ‘endangered’ by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature).
Due to a variety of factors, including deforestation, hunting lemurs for food and the pet trade, over 90% of lemur species are at threat of extinction. The Safari Park, along with many other wildlife parks in the UK, support lemur conservation groups such as the LemurConservation Association (AEECL), by hosting lemur awareness weeks and fundraising activities.
West Midland Safari Park is open daily from this weekend, 16 February 2019. The ring-tailed lemurs can be seen in African Village, which is included in the standard admission charge of £24.00 for adults, £19.00 for children aged 3-15 and £22.00 for concessions. Admission includes a Free Return Ticket. Adventure Theme Park rides are charged extra. Information about VIP lemur experiences can be found on the VIP section of the website.
A brave member of staff from West Midland Safari Park is going above and beyond to fundraise for the conservation of threatened rhinos.
Senior Education Officer and Associate Lecturer, Cathy Dittrich, will be swapping the classroom in Bewdley, for the sights of London, as she partakes in the Vitality Big Half (London half-marathon) on 10 March, on behalf of Save the Rhino International (SRI).
To make this incredible challenge even more difficult, Cathy has only just started running again recently after a six-month hiatus, she has never run this distance before and she will be completing the whole 13 miles with a broken hand!
However, she insists that she could not turn down the opportunity to combine her hobby by helping the plight of one of her favourite animals.
Cathy said, “My passion for rhinos and running both started in 2010 – a life-changing year for me, as I was made redundant, quit smoking and enrolled on a level 3 Animal Care course. On a field trip to South Africa in 2011, I encountered wild rhinos on safari and met a baby rhino in a rehab centre. I was blown away by the majestic presence of these creatures and was shocked and saddened to learn that this very same year, a subspecies of the Javan rhino was declared extinct, in addition to the western black rhino.
“As I continued my studies with an Animal and Biological Sciences degree, I revisited South Africa and developed an aspiration to become a Zoo Education Officer. I wanted to share what I had learned and enthuse others about the amazing animals of this planet, in the hope that I could inspire people to care about and increase conservation efforts for animals in need.”
She continued, “Fast forward to the present and I’m now coming up to my fourth year at the Safari Park, but sadly the plight of the rhino continues. I’m hoping that this physical challenge will help fundraise for a very worthy charity, whilst raising awareness about these magnificent animals!”
Cathy and her colleagues are lucky enough to see rhinos almost every day, from their classroom windows, as the Park has a ‘crash’ of eight southern white rhinos and three Indian rhinos. This includes ‘Granville’ – the latest baby born in 2018 and a success for the Park in their contribution to the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme (EEP).
The EEP aims to safeguard the future of a species vulnerable to the continued threat of poaching and habitat loss. At the last count, just over 20,000 wild southern white rhinos remained in South Africa, with 769 killed in 2018. Furthermore, three out of the five species of rhino are classed as ‘Critically Endangered.’
Cathy has set up a fundraising page so people can easily make donations to support her challenge. To make a donation, please visit: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/cathy-dittrich-hwm-TBH-2019-16753.
All the funds raised from Cathy’s half-marathon run will go directly to SRI, which will support the fight against poaching and habitat loss across 25 field programmes in 12 countries. To find out more, visit www.savetherhino.org.
The rhinos can be seen in four-mile Safari Drive-through, which is included in the standard admission charge of £24.00 for adults, £19.00 for children aged 3-15 and £22.00 for concessions. Admission includes a Free Return Ticket. Adventure Theme Park rides are charged extra.
Mother’s Day will be a bit busier than expected for one animal at West Midland Safari Park, as a surprising new arrival has appeared in the Park’s Twilight Cave.
On the morning of 13 March, keepers were astonished to find that the Park’s pair of grey-handed douroucouli (also known as night monkeys or owl monkeys), had given birth to a teeny tiny baby.
The appearance of the minute monkey came as a complete surprise to keepers, as they had no idea that mum, eight-year-old Kyna, was pregnant. Baby douroucouli only weigh a miniscule 3oz at birth, so although the adults are weighed weekly, there was no indication that Kyna was carrying a small passenger!
Head Keeper of the Discovery Trail, Amy Sewell, said, “Finding the cute new baby was a huge surprise for our keepers! My colleague had entered the enclosure and knew that something was different when the male, Ilay, didn’t come down to say hello, as he’s usually very friendly! He then heard some tiny, unusual cries, followed by spotting a very small tail hanging down underneath Ilay’s back.
“Grey-handed night monkeys are listed as ‘vulnerable’ by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), so we are delighted that our two resident douroucouli have had a baby. At present, we don’t know the sex as dad is doing his job and being very protective. From day one, dad will do 90% of carrying the infant and mum will just do the feeding, which is a nice treat on Mother’s Day. We hope all of our guests have just as a relaxing time as Kyna, on Sunday!”
Even though the gender of the baby is yet to be discovered, all animals born at the Park during 2019 have to begin with ‘H’, so keepers are already thinking of names beginning with this letter.
Douroucouli are the world’s only nocturnal monkeys, so live in the Park’s Twilight Cave with their neighbours – free-flying Seba’s short-tailed bats and Rodrigues fruit bats.
They are monogamous (mate for life) and Ilay and Kyna arrived as a breeding pair from Switzerland in 2013. The adorable youngster is one of three baby douroucouli born at the Park, since its parents’ arrival.
The douroucouli can be seen in the Twilight Cave in the Discovery Trail, which is included in the group admission charge of £11.00 for adults, £10.00 for children aged 3-15 and £10.50 for concessions based on ten or more paying passengers arriving by coach or mini bus.. Children under the age of 3 are free. Adventure Theme Park rides are charged extra.
Staff at West Midland Safari Park have been treating their big cats to some seasonal gifts – their very own Easter eggs.
To coincide with the Park’s Easter Eggstravaganza, whilst guests can enjoy the spectacle of 50 giant eggs, dotted around the Park, keepers created some large papier-mâché eggs for the animals, complete with colourful animal print patterns.
The Easter treats were then used as enrichment for the Park’s cheetahs and Sumatran tigers. Keepers filled the eggs with bits of meat and placed them in the big cats’ enclosures, ready for their very own Easter egg hunt!
Carnivore Keeper, Kasha Carter, said, “Enrichment is really important for all of our carnivores and we have a varied enrichment programme, which we implement daily. This includes things like boomer balls, puzzle boxes, scent trails, hide and seek (with meat) and novelty items such as these papier-mâché eggs. Enrichment simulates natural behaviours and keeps them active, so it’s an important part of a keeper’s job and we enjoy coming up with new ideas.”
She continued, “We loved watching the big cats with their Easter treats and it was really interesting to see how the different species reacted to them. The cheetahs are quite naturally cautious, so Cody and Epezi approached the eggs warily, before nudging them aside to find the meat.
“By contrast, our female tiger, Hujan, ran excitedly straight to them and started playing with them, tossing them in the air and rolling them around, using her paws. She then carried them away to protect them from her companion Nakal and started tearing them apart to get to the meat hidden inside. We hope all of our guests have just as good a time eating their chocolate eggs, as our big cats!”
The Park is home to five different species of carnivore and there is an enrichment programme tailor made for each group’s different behaviours and interests. For example, the African wild dogs love anything they can destroy as a team, whereas just like a domestic cat, the lions cannot resist a cardboard box (albeit a very large one!).
Eagle-eyed visitors may be able to spot different forms of enrichment as they explore the Park this Easter. They will also be able to take part in an interactive Eggsplorer’s Trail, where they will have to find the missing eggs hidden around the Park, to be rewarded with a chocolate treat.
There will also be an exclusive competition, which involves guests taking a picture with the final egg on the trail and posting it to the Safari Park’s Facebook page, to be in with the chance of winning a Family Annual Pass.
Staff at West Midland Safari Park are busy putting together the finishing touches for their annual Easter Eggstravaganza event and the animals are getting involved too!
From 13-28 April, over 50 giant, brightly-coloured eggs will be popping up all over the Park’s walk-through areas, including the Sea Lion Theatre, home to three California sea lions – Callum, Jack and Bounty.
To get the trio ready for Easter, keepers incorporated one of the giant eggs into the sea lions’ daily enrichment, placing the egg on their ‘beach’ for them to discover and play with.
Head Keeper of the Discovery Trail, Amy Sewell, said, “Our sea lions are getting super eggcited for Easter. We introduce our sea lions to lots of different enrichment throughout the year, as sea lions require a lot of mental stimulation. This can range from a puzzle feeder, to training, to a giant egg. Each new thing is interesting to them in a different way.”
She continued, “We loved watching the boys eggsplore their new toy. The egg was very different from anything they have ever had before. They eggspecially enjoyed pushing it into the water, (the keepers did not, as it meant having to try and fish it out before it sank!).”
The giant eggs will form part of an interactive Eggsplorer’s Trail, where guests will be invited to help find the missing eggs hidden around the Park, to be rewarded with a chocolate treat.
Guests can learn more about the amazing sea lions in the daily shows, alongside other encounters such as penguin, hippo and meerkat feeds, friendly animal encounters, lemur talks and discover reptiles talks.
Families can enjoy all of the Easter fun included as part of the standard admission charge.
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Animal keepers at West Midland Safari Park have had a busy start to the year by undertaking the annual animal stock take.
Every creature has to be counted, from the crash of huge white rhinos, down to the colony of tiny leaf cutter ants.
There will be some extra heads to count this year too, following the success of animal births in 2018. These include Granville, the baby southern white rhino, Gerald the Rothschild’s giraffe and two Grévy’s zebra foals – Grace and Gamba.
Angela Potter, Head of Wildlife said, “As part of our zoo licensing requirements, from 1 January, we complete an audit and produce a report for our Local Authority, so keepers have been out and about counting all of our animals, from elephants down to ants!
“Our wildlife administrator, Rosie Wilkes, then carefully checks our animal record system to ensure the census adds up correctly. Some animal groups, such as our white rhino herd of eight animals, are much easier to count than our colony of Madagascar hissing cockroaches! Although the audit is undertaken once per year, the animal keepers keep track of the animals in their care on a daily basis.”
The total number of animals is yet to be confirmed, but as there are over 120 different species at the Park, the figure is likely to be over 800 animals. 32 species are found on the Park’s safari drive-through, whilst the remaining 88 species can be found in the African Village, Discovery Trail and Safari Academy.
West Midland Safari Park is currently open on weekends only for Wild Winter Safari until 10 Feb 2019. The Park opens daily from 16 Feb 2019. Admission is £20.00 for adults, £15.00 for children aged 3-15 years and £18.00 for concessions. Admission includes a free return ticket. The Adventure Theme Park is closed during the winter season.