West Midland Safari Park

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West Midland Safari and Leisure Park
Giraffes at west midlands safari park.jpg
Giraffes at the park
Date opened17 April 1973
LocationBewdley, Worcestershire, England
Coordinates52°22′32″N 2°17′18″W / 52.3754944°N 2.2882462°W / 52.3754944; -2.2882462Coordinates: 52°22′32″N 2°17′18″W / 52.3754944°N 2.2882462°W / 52.3754944; -2.2882462
Land area200 acres (81 ha)[1]
No. of animals600[1]
No. of species165
Annual visitors750,000+
MembershipsBIAZA,[2] EAZA[3]
Major exhibitsAfrican Plains, Flooded Forest, Mark O'Shea's Reptile World, Sea Lion Theatre, Land of the Living Dinosaurs, and others
OwnerGroupe looping

West Midland Safari and Leisure Park is a safari park located in Bewdley in Worcestershire, England. It was opened under the name of West Midland Safari Park in spring 1973.

The park holds over 165 species of exotic animals, among other attractions such as a small theme park. The park contains the largest groups of white lions, cheetahs, hippopotami, and meerkats in the UK, as well as the largest lemur walk-through exhibit. It was also the first park in the UK to have the African big five game animals.[1]

The park is a member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) and the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA). The Dhole and Cheetah enclosures in the drive-through safari are part of a larger heathland Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) which the park is restoring.[4][5]


The park was opened by founder and Jimmy Chipperfield on 17 April 1973 and at the time hosted a few ex-circus animals (it had animals like rhinoceroses, elephants, ostriches, zebras, giraffes, camels, wildebeest, baboons, lions, tigers, bears & wolves, according to a video from the 1970s, date unknown). Early on, the park had a dolphin area where the sea lion theatre is today, but this was a travelling show and the dolphins were later returned to Margate. The 1970s also saw the park develop a "Boat Safari" in keeping with the fashions of the time, although this was later removed, and a narrow gauge railway through parts of the park was constructed by Severn Lamb in 1979.[citation needed]

The park saw its first new animal exhibit for some time with the arrival of four African white lions in "Kingdom of the White Lions" in 2004. The park was the first safari park in the UK to have all five African big game animals,[1] although its leopards have since been moved to Scotland, leaving it with only four of the five. It was also the first park/zoo in Europe to successfully breed white lion cubs and has done a great deal towards conserving the species.

In 2006, the managing directors of West Midland Safari Park officially opened the Ongava Research Centre on the Ongava Game Reserve near the Etosha National Park, their "sister park" in Namibia. The centre focuses on researching lions and rhinoceroses and carrying capacity of the reserves, which hold many rare animals. The centre has three full-time researchers[6] who work closely with Save the Rhino and the University of Cape Town.

African Plains[edit]

The African Plain is home to Southern white rhino, Common eland, Ellipsen waterbuck, African forest buffalo, red lechwe, Burchell's zebra, Grevy's zebra, giraffe and Ankole Cattle.

The Grasslands[edit]

This is home to Persian Fallow Deer and Barbary Sheep.

In the early hours of February 9, 2020, during Storm Ciara, several African Wild Dogs escaped from their paddock and killed 6 of the Fallow Deer and 10 of the Barbary Sheep.[7]

Wild Woods[edit]

This is home to the Dholes and forms part of The Devil's Spittleful.

Wild Asia and Realm of the Indian Rhino[edit]

Wild Asia is home to Banteng, Blackbuck, Formosan sika deer, Philippine spotted deer, and Barasingha. The Realm of the Indian rhino is home to four Indian rhinoceroses.

On the 8th of September 2020, an Indian Rhino calf was born to mother Seto, and father Rap, a first for the park.[8]

White Tiger Ridge[edit]

White Tiger Ridge was removed during the change in road layout in 2019. All tigers are now located in The Tiger Reserve located in the Eurasian Reserve.

Cheetah Plains[edit]

Cheetah Plains is the UK's largest drive-by Cheetah reserve.

African Wild Dog Reserve[edit]

This is home to the African wild dogs.

Realm of the Lions[edit]

This fully landscaped reserve and an off-road track opened as part of the exhibit is home to a pride of African lions.

Kingdom of the White Lions[edit]

Kingdom of the White Lion is home to a pride of rare White lions.

Two African elephants at the park

Eurasian Reserve and Tiger Reserve[edit]

Eurasian Reserve is home to Javan Banteng, Nilgai and Père David's deer. The Tiger Reserve is home to Bengal tigers and endangered Sumatran tigers.

Elephant Valley[edit]

Elephant Valley is home to the safari's African elephants. In May 2014, the park's Elephant Valley became home to the first male African elephant successfully born through AI in the UK; he is called Sutton.[9]

In 2021, construction of a new elephant reserve was completed.[10] Currently the park holds two Elephants, Sutton and his mother Five.

The Borderlands[edit]

Formerly the Elephant's enclosure, Borderlands is home to a herd of Bactrian Camels


West Midland Safari Park is known for its efforts in conservation. The park contains many animals that are on the IUCN's Endangered or Critically Endangered list.

In May 2014, the park's Elephant Valley became home to the first male African elephant successfully born through AI in the UK.[11]

Amusement park rides[edit]

Opened Name Manufacturer Description
1985 "Congo Carousel" Robert Tidman Classic gallopers ride, operated previously at Happy Hour Amusement Park, Colwyn Bay
1986 "Jungle Swings" A classic chair-o-plane ride
1986 "Jungle Cat Dodgems" I.E. Park Cat-themed dodgems
2006 "Venom" Fabbri A drop tower ride similar to Detonator at Thorpe Park, but half of the train is taken off the ride.
1996 "Zambezi Water Splash" Reverchon Industries A standard two-drop log flume
2002 "Black Fly" Fabbri A frisbee ride similar to Sky-Force at Flambards Theme Park
1992 "Dr. Umboto's Catacombs" Supercar A ghost train ride
2004 "Jumbo Parade" Fabbri An elephant-themed jets ride cheaper version of Dumbo At Disneyland
1983 "Pirate Ship" HUSS Park Attractions A classic pirate ship ride similar to The Bounty At Drayton Manor and The Blade At Alton Towers
1995 "Hurtling Hippos" Bakker Denies A polyp ride, formerly named "Tarantula", "Spider" and "Cape Octopus"; operated previously at Codona's Amusement Park
2006 "Wild River Rafting" Fabbri A small river rapids ride
1992 "Rhinocoaster" Vekoma A junior rollercoaster, formerly named "Rollerskater". The park traded in their Vekoma Boomerang for the "Rollerskater".
1988 "African Big Apple" Pinfari An MB28 junior rollercoaster
1998 "Monkey Mayhem" Reverchon Industries A spinning wild mouse roller coaster, formerly named "Walls Twister Coaster"
2009 "Shark Island" Shenyang Chuangqi A.E. An interactive water roundabout
'99/'00 "Slippery Snake Slide" Chris Randall A snake-themed tube slide
2014 "Kong" Zamperla A Gorilla-themed Mega Disk'O

Former rides[edit]

Name Opened Closed Manufacturer Description
Cobra 1985 1991 Vekoma A standard Vekoma boomerang replaced with the Rhinocoaster
Safari Express 1979 2014 Severn Lamb a 2mm narrow gauge train that took passengers from the amusement park to the car park. Closed in 2014 to make way for the dinosaur exhibit

Land of the Living Dinosaurs[edit]

This is the UK's largest animatronic dinosaur attraction, opened 2015

Ice Age[edit]

This is the UK's largest animatronic creator attraction to feature Ice Age animals, opened 2018

Discovery Trail[edit]

Discovery Trail consists of mostly indoor exhibits, and includes animal encounters throughout the day where staff allow visitors to get close to animals found in the Discovery Trail.

Animal Encounters[edit]

Animal encounters that take place in the Discovery Trail let visitors get up close and personal with small exotic creatures, under the observation of staff. Animals that take part in these encounters include ferrets, Lesser Hedgehog tenrecs, and Long-tailed Chinchillas.

Penguin Cove[edit]

Penguin Cove is home to Humboldt penguins. Their enclosure includes a pool with semi-submerged beach, sculptures, penguin house and public viewing areas.

Lorikeet Landing[edit]

This new heated indoor exhibit is home to the flock of Rainbow lorikeets. The specially designed walk-through enclosure includes state-of-the-art eco-heating to help these Australasian parrots feel at home at a balmy 18*C. Lorikeet Landing provides the chance to walk amongst one of the largest flocks in the UK.

Creepy Crawlies[edit]

Creepy Crawlies is the park's insect house, and contains a small range of creepy crawlies including tarantulas, Goliath birdeater spider, leafcutter ants, locusts, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, and scorpions.

Reptile World[edit]

The park's reptile house was formerly named after the famous herpetologist Mark O'Shea. He would make appearances at the park, occasionally performing in the reptile encounters that took place outside the building, where guests can learn more about some of the park's reptiles. Reptiles in this exhibit include alligator snapping turtle, American alligator, amethystine python, beaded lizard, black rat snake, Borneo short-tailed python, Cuban crocodile, Eastern diamondback rattlesnake, Egyptian cobra, frill-necked lizard, green anaconda, green and black poison dart frog, green tree python, Jamaican boa, king cobra, malagasy giant hognose snake, Nile crocodile, red-eyed crocodile skink, red-eyed treefrog, red-tailed green ratsnake, reticulated python, saharan horned viper, and western diamondback rattlesnake.

Sea Lion Theatre[edit]

The Sea Lion Theatre is a 525-seat venue that allows visitors to have the chance to see the parks’ Californian sea lions performing tricks in a 25-minute show.


SeaQuarium is the park's aquarium, containing a wide variety of exotic fish. This is also the park's chain attraction. Some of the animals here include Asian arowana, Bermuda blue angelfish, chocolate chip star, clownfish, common carp, emperor angelfish, gold-spotted spinefoot, honeycomb moray, long-spine porcupinefish, orangespine, unicornfish, orbicular batfish, pangas catfish, queen coris , red-bellied pacu, red-bellied piranha, Red Sea sailfin tang, redtail catfish, redtoothed triggerfish, reef stonefish, Siberian sturgeon, small-spotted catshark, snowflake moray, spotted sailfin suckermouth catfish, spotted unicornfish, tambaqui, Vlamingii tang, white-spotted puffer and zebra moray.

Twilight Cave[edit]

The Twilight Cave is a walk-through exhibit containing free-flying Rodrigues fruit bats and Seba's leaf-nosed bats. Nocturnal exhibits within this area are home to Night monkeys

African Villages[edit]

Goat Walk[edit]

The African Village is an interactive walk-through area, allowing visitors to see African village wildlife and a replica African Village Home. The Goat Walk contains a walk-through area containing Cameroon sheep, pygmy goats and Somali sheep.

Meet the Meerkats[edit]

This exhibit is home to a large mob of Meerkats.

Walking With Lemurs[edit]

This is the largest walk-through lemur wood in the UK, with three species of lemurs including Ring-tailed lemurs, White-fronted brown lemurs, and Red-bellied lemurs.

Hippo Lakes[edit]

In the amusement area are a large number of lakes. One of these has become home to the largest pod of hippos in the UK.


Up the bank from the goat walk, there is a group of Ostriches. Formerly Addax were held here.[12]


  1. ^ a b c d "West Midland Safari Park". britishzoos.co.uk. Diamond Publishing Ltd. Retrieved 30 December 2012.
  2. ^ "BIAZA Zoos and Aquariums". biaza.org.uk. BIAZA. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  3. ^ "EAZA Member Zoos & Aquariums". eaza.net. EAZA. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  4. ^ "Safari Drive-Through". wmsp.co.uk. West Midland Safari Park. Retrieved 30 December 2012.
  5. ^ "Conservation". wmsp.co.uk. West Midland Safari Park. Retrieved 30 December 2012.
  6. ^ "Ongava Research Centre (ORC) & Namibian Wildlife Conservation Trust (NWCT)". wmsp.co.uk. West Midland Safari Park. Retrieved 30 December 2012.
  7. ^ "Storm Ciara: Wild dogs kill animals after escaping enclosure". BBC News. 14 February 2020.
  8. ^ Abgarian, Almara (14 September 2020). "British safari park welcomes its first Indian rhino in 47 years". Metro. Retrieved 27 October 2021.
  9. ^ "Safari park names baby elephant after Stephen Sutton". BBC News. 12 June 2014. Retrieved 27 October 2021.
  10. ^ "New luxury elephant habitat ready for West Midland Safari Park grand reopening". Kidderminster Shuttle. Retrieved 27 October 2021.
  11. ^ "New Baby Elephant Named!" (Press release). Bewdley, Worcestershire: West Midland Safari Park. 12 June 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  12. ^ "African Village".

External links[edit]