Knowsley Safari Park
Knowsley Park, Prescot
Tel: 0151 430 9009
About Knowsley Safari Park
Knowsley Safari Park is north of Prescot, off the M62, eight miles north-east of Liverpool, and it’s a family attraction with a worldwide reputation as a premier conservation and zoological facility. With its varied array of entertainment rides and other features, Knowsley Safari Park also makes for a grand family day out – just the ticket for relaxation and recuperation, with a dose of good educational fun thrown in for good measure!
Edward Lord Stanley, the thirteenth Earl of Derby, kept an extensive private menagerie at Knowsley as early as the 1830s, when the Park was one of the largest zoos in the world, covering almost 100 acres of the Knowsley estate. It boasted 94 species of mammals and 318 species of birds, which would make it the largest bird collection in Britain today, and the third largest mammal collection after London and Chester. Among the family attraction’s regular visitors at the time was artist/poet Edward Lear, who painted many animals and entertained Stanley’s grandchildren with nonsense verses and limericks inspired by the zoo’s residents.
Knowsley Safari Park now has 30 mammal species on show and, after serving during World War 2 as an RAF airfield, it was opened to the public in July 1971. The family attraction has expanded in acreage, the animals roaming 200 hectares (550 acres) of naturalistic enclosures like prairie and savannah. The award-winning family attraction also engages in ongoing programmes of animal husbandry and education, while it maintains its original concept of ticket holders being able to view the animals while driving through the Park in the cars – the first UK drive-through game reserve based on the East African model (and still one of only five such examples). Knowsley Safari Park was also the first to be built near a large city, and it now welcomes more than 500,000 visitors a year for a fascinating and fun family day out.
Knowsley Safari Park’s 3½-mile (5.6 km) drive was extended by 1½ miles (2.4km) of road in 1973, and there is now a car-friendly route around the perimeter of the monkey jungle for visitors wishing to avoid a close encounter with the baboons!
Among the 500 mammals at Knowsley Safari Park that can be seen by ticket holders are herds of immensely powerful rhinos and elephants, burly camels, the impressivee buffalo, bison and wildebeest, majestic zebra and giraffes, various types of graceful deer, antelopes, and wallabies.
One of the star-turns on a family day out to Knowsley Safari Park are the big cats, represented by both lions and tigers, while, for those seeking natural entertainers, the family attraction has a large number of monkeys and the drive-through windscreen-wiper wreckers par excellence, the baboons. Equally entertaining, the meerkats provide ticket holders with mesmerising movements of their twitching heads and use their wet, dog-like noses to pick up scents. They bob and weave about their enclosures, along with the captivatingly cuddly otters, while recent additions to the Knowsley Safari Park family include a pack of 12 African Hunting Dogs, and Red River Hogs.
Another feature of the family attraction that is not to be missed is the daily Sealion show, when the playful mammals ply through pools to feed with their keepers and show off for the crowds.
Other animals on view for ticket holders at the family attraction include Ankole cattle, bongo, eland, Emu, guanaco, guinea fowl, jungle fowl, lechwe, nilgai, oryx, ostrich, rhea and sitatunga, making for a varied and intriguing family day out.
For those seeking out creep-crawlies, then the Knowsley Safari Park Bug House has an abundance of snakes, lizards and other exotic species
such as leaf-cutter ants and death’s head cockroaches.
Besides the more unusual residents of Knowsley Safari Park, native species are represented by goats, sheep, Highland cattle and horses at the Children’s Mizzy Lake Farm, which adds an extra dimension to a family day out with its petting paddocks and free-range creatures.
Among the other residents that ticket holders can confront are turkeys, Mules, Llama, Pigs, Rabbits and Guinea Pigs. Additionally, at the far end of the farm is a swan sanctuary with black and mute swans, and many other birds. Among them are pea fowl and 10 species of waterfowl that nest around the lake, along with kestrels, buzzards and Woodpecker in the adjacent woodland (and falconry displays are regularly staged). For twitchers, it’s just the ticket, with sightings of Greylag Goose, Tufted Duck, Moorhen, Coot, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe and Kingfisher. Indeed, Knowsley Safari Park nurtures native British wildlife with its woods, grassland and water, which harbour stoats, weasels, grey and red squirrels, and Brown Hares, while Lapwings and Oystercatchers fly over the Safari Drive.
Plants at Knowsley Safari Park include Bee and Pyramid orchids, as well as fungi ranging from Puffballs to Stinkhorns. The development of all these flora and fauna features are outlined at the family attraction’s education centre and safari school, while groups can learn from experts about conservation and other aspects of the working of Knowsley Safari Park.
Besides all the fun to be had with the animals as part of a family day out, there are some 20 Amusement Rides, including Jungle Dodgems custom-built for Knowsley Safari Park with unique animal design cars, flying Bumble Bees, the Rattlesnake, Happy Bugs, the Safari Train and Jungle Safari, and a Ranger Patrol ride. Other highlights for children on a family day out are a Carousel, the Lakeside Railway, a Roundabout, Mini and large Pirate Ships, a Bouncy Castle, Honeypot Bears, the Stardancer and Swing Chairs.
For those seeking the ultimate animal experience, Ranger Days offer a superb family day out, taking in a guided tour of everything from the creepy crawlies to one of the UK’s largest herds of African elephants. Birthdays are catered for as well (details at the website), and with a Souvenir Shop, Picnic Areas and Oasis Restaurant, Knowsley Safari Park is a family attraction that covers all bases. There’s even a bus tour service for ticket holders, and with disabled facilities throughout, it really is a family attraction that everyone can enjoy.