Blair Drummond Safari Park
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|Date opened||1970 |
|Location||Blair Drummond, Stirling, Scotland|
|Land area||120 acres (49 ha) |
|No. of animals||300 |
Blair Drummond Safari Park is a safari park located near Stirling in Scotland. Opened to the public in 1970, it is spread over 120 acres (49 ha). The safari park features drive-through reserves, a boat safari, amusements, children's play areas and a petting zoo.
- 1 History
- 2 The reserves
- 3 The park
- 4 Other activities
- 5 Education
- 6 Conservation
- 7 Notes
- 8 External links
The original Blair Drummond House was built in 1715. Sir John Kay, a tea merchant from Glasgow, purchased the house and its surrounding land in 1916. Because he had no sons, Kay passed the property to his nephew Sir John Muir, the father of the park's present owner Jamie Muir. The house was a family home until it was sold to the Camphill Movement, a charity that cares for people with special needs, in 1977. The current Blair Drummond House was built in a new location in 1872 by James Campbell Walker, and again in 1923 by James Bow Dunn after a fire destroyed the previous house.
Blair Drummond Safari Park was opened in 1970, with the help of Jimmy Chipperfield, one of Britain's first safari parks (Longleat Safari Park being the first, in 1966) and one of the first to open outside Africa.
Like many safari parks, Blair Drummond features reserve areas that visitors drive through in their own cars or as passengers on the park's "Safari Bus" to view free-roaming animals.
The first reserve features non-carnivorous native African species, such as Grant's zebra, Ankole-Watusi cattle, Guineafowl, Lechwe, Kudu and the Southern white rhinoceros. The rhinos are part of a Europe-wide breeding programme which began in 2004 with the arrival of three young rhinos from Kruger National Park: Dorothy (Dot), Graham and Jane. Dorothy and Graham have gone on to have five calves: in 2007, 2009, 2012 and 2014. Dot and Graham can still be seen at the park today.
The second reserve is home solely to African lions. They are also part of a Europe-wide breeding programme, with two of the current females having been born in the park. There is currently one male, Zulu, introduced in February 2016 through an exchange with Wildlands Adventure Zoo Emmen to ensure genetic diversity is maintained.
Barbary macaque reserve
The optional third reserve, "Monkey Jungle", was opened to the public in 2015 and houses solely Barbary macaques. The monkeys were transferred to the park from Gibraltar in 2014 to reduce the problem they were beginning to cause to the island's residents, and to prevent having to cull them as had been carried out previously. The Barbary macaque is listed as endangered by the IUCN Red List and in 2016 the park began to raise money for Barbary macaques being exploited for use as photo props in Morocco.
The fourth and final reserve houses herbivorous species native to Asia, such as Père David's deer, Bactrian camels, Nilgai, Axis deer and Eld's deer. In April 2016 the park welcomed the birth of two Père David's deer, a species now extinct in the wild.
The following areas and attractions can be found in the park:
Lemur Land is reached by a bridge next to the Boat Safari, and is a place that has ring-tailed lemurs, brown lemurs, and black-and-white ruffed lemurs. Visitors walk through this area and the lemurs roam free, with tall bushy trees and a network of thick ropes for them to play on. Several feed tables around the walkway let visitors get close to the lemurs.
The Boat Safari next to Lemur Land takes visitors to view Chimp Island - an island home to six chimpanzees. Here the visitors are taken round the island on a boat by an experienced guide, as the chimps forage for food hidden in behavioural enrichment devices and in the undergrowth.
The park is currently home to one female African elephant called Mondula. She spends her day foraging around her enclosure and using the various pieces of enrichment provided for her by her keepers. On most days, if Mondula is willing, the keepers will engage the elephant in training sessions where she is rewarded with food when she demonstrates positive behaviours. If she is outside the visitors can get a closer look as Mondula presents her feet, mouth, ears and tail to the keepers for inspection and cleaning. The current elephant enclosure was opened by HRH The Princess Royal in 2013, and was commended in the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums' annual awards in the category "best new habitat".
Bird of prey displays
Multiple times a day the visitors can see some of the abilities of the birds of prey that reside at the park. Here, the birds are flown by the park's experienced bird trainers, who explain and demonstrate the birds' capabilities as they come into close quarters with the visitors. During some displays, the park's white-tailed sea-eagle can be seen snatching a lure from the loch or land on a fist. Birds here include Harris' hawks, eagle owls, vultures, falcons, kites and barn owls.
This area of the park homes domesticated species of animals such as pygmy goats, Shetland ponies, Clydesdale horses, donkeys, llamas, guinea pigs and kunekune pigs, as well as more exotic species such as slender-tailed meerkats, Humboldt penguins, Oriental small-clawed otters and common dwarf mongooses.
Viewing platforms are positioned throughout the park, which are wheelchair-friendly and allow visitors to view into some of the enclosures from an elevated position. They are located at the giraffe/ostrich enclosure, the lion reserve and the Amur tiger habitat.
Rides and amusements
The park has a large slide and playground, where visitors will find a pirate ship and adventure fort. One incident occurred in which a 12-year-old boy broke his leg, as he had caught his leg on a ladder as he fell down. They are all housed within a sand arena. Near the sea lion building is the large slide, and near the boat safari there are pedal boats and a flying fox. Other rides and attractions including dodgems, a kids' dragon rollercoaster, a bouncy castle, face painting and a carousel.
Eating at the park
Throughout the day, the education team make their way around six of the enclosures, giving talks on the elephant, giraffes, tigers, rhinos, penguins and meerkats. The talks include information about the natural environments, behaviours and biology of the animals, as well as specific information on the individuals at the park. Some of the talks include a feeding and so may provide a good opportunity to see the animals active if they are having a lazy day.
In addition, the zoo has both animal-and education related volunteer programs. Animal volunteers are largely college and university students who require industry experience for their qualification. These volunteers help with the daily tasks of the zookeepers, including the mucking out and cleaning of animal enclosures, feed preparation, and implementing enrichment for animals. Education volunteers help with daily education of visitors, including working at touch tables, talking with visitors, helping with education talks for schools, and helping organize and plan events and fundraising.
Blair Drummond Safari Park has been a member of British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) since 2004. Being a member of this organisation lets the park participate in coordinated breeding programmes with other zoos in the United Kingdom and Ireland for endangered animals. They also recognise all the research carried out at the park and the conservation work the park supports abroad.
Breeding successes at the park
Other animals that have successfully bred in the park include:
- Grant's zebra
- Pere David's deer
- Bactrian camels
- Southern white rhinos
- Fallow deer
Annual conservation campaigns
As a modern safari park, Blair Drummond accepts the importance of educating and raising the awareness of visitors to the plight of endangered species, and one way in which this is addressed is through conservation campaigns. In the past Blair Drummond has contributed to conservation campaigns run by European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), and in recent years have won awards for their involvement towards the cause. Blair Drummond has participated in the following EAZA campaigns:
- EAZA Tiger Campaign 2002/04
- EAZA Shellshock Campaign 2004/05
- EAZA Save the Rhino Campaign 2005/06
- EAZA Madagascar Campaign 2006/07
- EAZA European Carnivore Campaign 2008/09 
In 2008, the park hosted their own conservation campaign, SOS: Save Our Squirrels, to raise awareness of the plight of the red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) in Britain. The funds raised during this campaign were used help the red squirrel population living in the park.
In addition to contributing towards EAZA campaigns and fund-raising events, Blair Drummond donates money towards other conservation campaigns under the banner of "Link to the Wild", implemented in 2016. This campaign allows zookeepers to select in-situ projects supporting wild animals at risk. The animals the park are raising funds for in 2016 are:
- Rothschild's giraffe, with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF);
- White rhinoceroses, with Outraged South African Citizens Against Poaching (OSCAP);
- Mediterranean monk seals, with The Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal (MOm);
- Barbary macaques, with Barbary Macaque Awareness and Conservation (BMAC);
- Chimpanzees, with the Bulindi Chimpanzee and Community Project;
- Lemurs, with Feedback Madagascar's project Treemad;
- Vultures, with VulPro;
- Goshawks and White-tailed eagles, with the Scottish Raptor Study Group (SRSG).
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