Longleat Safari Park

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Longleat Safari Park
Longleat Safari Park is located in Wiltshire
Longleat Safari Park
Longleat Safari Park
Red pog.svg Longleat Safari Park shown within Wiltshire
Type Safari park
Location Wiltshire
Nearest city Warminster
OS grid ST818434
Coordinates 51°11′24″N 2°15′40″W / 51.19°N 2.261°W / 51.19; -2.261Coordinates: 51°11′24″N 2°15′40″W / 51.19°N 2.261°W / 51.19; -2.261
Area 9,000 acres (36.42 km2)
Created 1966
Camp sites Yes
Website www.longleat.co.uk
The Longleat home
Longleat Safari Lions, with a warning sign

Longleat Safari and Adventure Park, in Wiltshire, England, was opened in 1966 as the first drive-through safari park outside Africa.[1][2][3] The park is situated in the grounds of Longleat House, an English stately home which is open to the public and is the home of the 7th Marquess of Bath. Longleat Safari Park and the concept of safari parks were the brainchild of Jimmy Chipperfield (1912–1990), former co-director of Chipperfield's Circus.[4]

Today, Longleat is home to over 500 animals, and the estate occupies 9,000 acres (36.42 km2) of Wiltshire countryside.

The Safari Park's reserves[edit]


Longleat House and Grounds[edit]

See also Longleat

Opened to the public in 1949, the ancestral home of the Marquess of Bath remains a popular attraction with visitors. Visitors can join one of the many regular house tours or simply walk about at their leisure. They may also explore the gardens surrounding the house and visit a number of cafés within the grounds. A separate ticket is sold for visitors who only wish to visit the House and Gardens.

Jungle Express Railway[edit]

Longleat Railway no. 6 John Hayton in 2006

Established in 1965 as "Longleat Railway" and expanded in 1975, the 15 in (381 mm) gauge ridable miniature railway is among the busiest in the country. It has a length of one and a quarter miles (2 km) through scenic woodland and along the edge of Half Mile Lake. The line has taken several different courses across the years, but the route along the lake has remained consistent. After opening the railway was originally run by outside company Minirail on a ten year contract, which was not renewed due to disagreements between the two companies. Following this, Longleat took over running the railway in 1976. Many engines have run on the railway over the years, both steam and diesel; currently the railway owns two diesel locomotives with one running the passenger services and another in reserve. The railway also has 15 carriages, all built at Longleat between 1976 and 2013, along with several permanent way wagons. At the far end of the line is a halt platform which is only used for Santa Specials, with a purpose built grotto and a reindeer enclosure.[6][7]

Current Locomotives[edit]

Number Name Wheel Arrangement Builders Year Built Livery Carriage Rating Notes
5 Ceawlin 0-8-2DH Severn Lamb 1975 GWR Green 5
  • Named after Lord Bath's son.
  • Steam outline locomotive, rebuilt in 1989.
  • Formerly LR no. 2
  • Presently used as a reserve engine
7 Flynn 0-6-0DH Alan Keef 2007 Crimson 7
  • Named after Lord Bath's eldest grandson
  • Presently the railway's flagship locomotive

Former Locomotives[edit]

Number Name Wheel Arrangement Builders Year Built Livery Notes
1 Lenka 4+4wDH Severn Lamb 1973 Maroon
3 Dougal 0-6-2T Severn Lamb 1970 Crimson
4 Lenka 4+4wDH Longleat Railway 1984 BR Crimson & Cream
  • Only engine built by Longleat.
  • Railcar capable of carrying 12 passengers
  • Sold to private owner in 2017
6 John Hayton 0-6-2T Exmoor Steam Railway 2004 Crimson

Animal Areas[edit]

As well as the Safari Park, the Estate has a number of areas for small animal enclosures. Beginning with Pets Corner in the 1970s and the butterfly house in the 1980s, the number of animal exhibits expanded greatly during the 2010s.

Jungle Kingdom[edit]

Originally known as Pets Corner, the revamped Jungle Kingdom opened in 2011. The centrepiece of this area is a large walk-through meerkat enclosure, the first of its kind in the UK. Two crested porcupines share part of this enclosure with the meerkats, which have free reign of the area. Across from this is an enclosure containing two Oriental small-clawed otters and two male binturong. In the centre of Jungle Kingdom is a small enclosure for coati, which access their shelters via an overhead walkway. At the far end of the area is another shared enclosure containing Red-legged seriema, giant anteaters and Patagonian mara.

Monkey Temple[edit]

Opened in 2012,[8] the centrepiece of this attraction is a large themed ruin with long rope walkways running across the paths, which allows visitors to safely interact with a variety of marmosets and tamarins . These include:

Elsewhere in this area is an enclosure containing a family of Red pandas. The breeding pair, named Ajendra and Rufina, have given birth to three cubs since 2015.[9][10][11] The area also contains a walk-through aviary of rainbow lorikeet and a golden pheasant, where visitors can purchase pots of nectar to feed the birds.

Penguin Island and Stingray Bay[edit]

Branching off from Monkey Temple, this attraction opened in 2013. A 225,000-litre naturally-themed display which is home to a colony of captive-bred Humboldt penguins. Visitors can watch the penguins from above as well as below the water, through giant viewing windows, as they swim at speeds of up to 30 mph. At certain times of the year the penguins are allowed outside into a large walk-through area where visitors can get up close to the penguins. Adjacent to this is Stingray Bay, a large open-topped display housing a selection of marine stingray species including thornback stingrays and undulate rays. In September 2016 an outbreak of avian malaria killed a large number of the penguin colony.[12]

Animal Adventure[edit]

Animal Adventure rabbit

Containing many animals previously kept in Pets' Corner, this area opened in 2009 [13] and contains many exotic and familiar mammals, birds, reptiles and insects. There are small areas for goats, striped skunk, ferrets, chickens, guinea pigs, cockatoos,rabbits, Hermann's tortoises, Pancake tortoise, Spur-thighed tortoise, iguanas, armadillos, rock hyraxes, and a fennec fox. An undercover area houses a regular Parrot show, where keepers demonstrate the intelligence of the resident macaws. Next door is a walk-through butterfly house, home to a large variety of the species, which replaced an older butterfly house built in the 1980s. Inside the main building is the Animal Handling Hall, where visitors can get a chance to hold a variety of creatures such as a Chilean rose tarantula or a corn snake, or even get up close to a selection of reptiles. Donkeys, Jacob's sheep and Emus can be found in the paddock next to the hedge maze

Jungle Cruise[edit]

The Jungle Cruise (known as the Safari Boat until 2011) is a short trip around Half Mile Lake. The journey takes visitors past Gorilla Island, home of the elderly male Western lowland gorilla Nico, who is the oldest gorilla in Europe.[14] At the far end of the lake is the shallow Pelican Cove containing Eastern white pelicans and Gorilla Colony, an enclosure for three male western lowland gorillas. The lake is also home to two Common hippopotamus and a group of Californian sea lions and visitors may purchase food for the latter, which are commonly seen following the boats.

Bat Cave[edit]

This indoor attraction is home to a colony of male Egyptian fruit bats. It is housed in a stable block which contains several other attractions, and was once the site of a Doctor Who exhibition which ran from 1974 to 2003.

Other attractions[edit]

Longleat Hedge Maze - This attraction was opened in 1975. It is one of several mazes within Longleat, and with over 16,000 yew trees making it up it is among the largest of its kind in the UK.

Adventure Castle - A large adventure playground that opened in 1989. It is themed around a medieval castle, with slides, roundabouts, swings, rope climbs, an aerial walkway, a water-based "splash pad" and an indoor soft play area. In 2013 a section of it was fenced off to contain a new Deadly 60 themed interactive maze attraction, Deadly Challenge, which closed in 2016.

King Arthur's Mirror Maze - Built into the same stable block as the Bat Cave, this indoor maze challenges visitors to find King Arthur's crown and the sword Excalibur, while navigating a confusing hall of mirrors.

Family Bygones - A collection of vintage items owned by the Thynn family throughout the years, including a selection of game.

Rockin' Rhino - Opened in 2014, this motion ride travels through various amusing tableaus of animals, narrated by Rocky the Rhino and Leroy the Lion as they race each other to the finish.

Little Explorers Garden - Opened in 2016, this colourful outdoor playground is designed for the park's younger visitors. Replaced the Postman Pat Village.

In the media[edit]

  • The Lions of Longleat - A 1967 BBC One documentary about the newly opened safari park with commentary by Lord Bath and Jimmy Chipperfield.[15]
  • Lion Country - 55-part documentary series broadcast on BBC One in 1998.[16]
  • Vets in Practice - The park featured heavily in the BBC fly-on-the-wall documentary series Vets in Practice.
  • On Safari - On Safari is a children's TV show broadcast in 2000 by the ITV children's strand CITV and re-broadcast in 2009 by STV.
  • Animal Park - Longleat was the subject of the BBC's long running Animal Park series, hosted by Kate Humble and Ben Fogle. A new series was filmed in 2016.
  • Roar - Roar is another BBC series about the animals and keepers at wild animal parks.
  • All Change at Longleat - A three-part documentary filmed in 2014 and broadcast on BBC One in September 2015. Following Lord Bath handing control of the business to his son, Ceawlin, and his wife Lady Emma, the series also covers the various goings-on across the park and the preparation of the park's first Festival of Light.


  1. ^ Mary Chipperfield (1972). Lions on the Lawn. HarperCollins Publishers Limited. ISBN 978-0-00-613025-3. 
  2. ^ The lions and loins of Longleat The Sunday Times Retrieved 18 February 2011
  3. ^ Vines, Gail (2 December 1982). "Safari Parks, after the Honeymoon". New Scientist. Retrieved 7 November 2015. 
  4. ^ Samson, Ian (15 May 2010). "Great dynasties of the world: The Chipperfields". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 May 2016. 
  5. ^ "Longleat Safari Park". britishzoos.co.uk. Retrieved 10 April 2015. 
  6. ^ "Jungle Express (Longleat)". Miniature Railway World. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  7. ^ Profile: Longleat Railway Miniature Railway Magazine Retrieved 26 August 2016
  8. ^ Monkey Temple Themed Structures, inc. Retrieved 17 February 2017
  9. ^ Red Panda Longleat Retrieved 17 February 2017
  10. ^ First as rare red panda cub born at Longleat Longleat Retrieved 17 February 2017
  11. ^ Twin Births a Double Delight for Endangered Red Pandas Longleat Retrieved 17 February 2017
  12. ^ Longleat Safari Park penguins die in malaria outbreak BBC News Retrieved 17 February 2017
  13. ^ Longleat's new Animal Adventure opens Leisure Management Retrieved 17 February 2017
  14. ^ Longleat Safari Park western lowland gorilla marks '50th birthdayBBC News Retrieved 17 February 2017
  15. ^ "The Lions of Longleat - BBC One London - 12 November 1967". BBC Genome. Retrieved 7 November 2015. 
  16. ^ "Lion Country - BBC One London - 16 February 1998". BBC Genome. 

External links[edit]