For your child, the idea of keeping lions, giraffes and tigers in the back garden is just a dream. For the Marquess of Bath, it’s a reality. The safari park on his 9,000-acre Longleat Estate is home to over 500 creatures great and small, including a flock of rainbow lorikeets whose eye-catching plumage rivals the Marquess’s own outlandish waistcoats. You take in the attractions from the comfort of your own car – in this case the term “drive thru” doesn’t involve a cheeseburger, fries and regular coke, but rather pink-bottomed monkeys bounding onto your bonnet or lions lolling lazily in the grass. In most circumstances, crawling along in a queue of traffic would elicit groans of anguish from your brood. In this case, it’s a journey your children will wish would never stop.
Star attractions The newest animals include rhinos, wildebeest, zebra and an elegant lady elephant by the name of Anne. Watch the antics of those cheeky chaps in Monkey Mayhem (the clue’s in the name), ditch the wheels a while and walk with the meerkats in Jungle Kingdom, hand-feed giraffes at the Watering Hole, and take a Jungle Cruise around Gorilla Island.
Family X-Factor Contemplating all those playful antics is sure to have your child itching to practise some playful antics of her own. The Adventure Castle playground is amply appointed for such a purpose.
Not many people know this, but… What’s a gorilla’s favourite pastime? Watching television, apparently. Inside his hut on the park’s Gorilla Island, solitary male silverback Nico has his own television, with
Sky+ HD and surround sound.
Don’t forget to pack Binoculars so you can get a close up glimpse of the animals.
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Cost from £29 (adults), from£22 (children). Under-threes are free.
Longleat, Warminster, Wiltshire BA12 7NW.