West Midland Safari Park celebrates its 45th anniversary this year and has come a long way since being officially opened by actress Sophia Loren back in spring 1973.
What began as a fairly small attraction located in the heart of Worcestershire has now evolved into one of the largest attractions in the Midlands.
One of the first collections to arrive at West Midland Safari was a pride of African lions, followed by a total of 447 animals recorded during the park’s first year. The attraction now holds 837 animals, including a pride of 12 African lions, a colony of 21 Humboldt penguins and a troop of 13 ring-tailed lemurs.
Since first opening, many animals have become endangered or close to extinction in the wild, so conservation has become very important to the park, with 23 breeding programmes now currently active, including Sumatran tigers, Eld’s deer and African wild dogs. Recent successful births have included Finn the tiny pancake tortoise, Fennessy the majestic Rothschild’s giraffe and half-siblings Ekozu and Fahari, the adorable southern white rhinos.
As well as the four-mile self-drive safari and animal exhibits, the 200 acre site is now home to the largest dinosaur and ice age experiences in the UK – Land of the Living Dinosaurs and Ice Age. Both exhibits feature enormous animatronic creatures complete with breathing and roaring sound effects, allowing guests to step back in time and embark on a prehistoric adventure like no other.
The fun continues in the Adventure Theme Park, with rides and games available for all of the family. A staple for all good theme parks is the ‘Pirate Ship’, which was the first ride to be opened in 1983, closely followed by the ‘Congo Carousel’. Most recently opened in the area was the thrilling ‘Kong’, which was introduced in 2015.
2018 also marks the 40th year of the Park’s Managing Director, Ivan Knezovich, who began working at the attraction as a Sea Lion Keeper back in 1978.
The Safari Drive-through, animal exhibits, Land of the Living Dinosaurs and Ice Age are all included in the standard admission charge, with children under three free. Further information and discounted tickets are available from the Park’s website www.wmsp.co.uk