Softly, Softly Catchy Monkey

10th April 2014

It’s a situation parents everywhere will recognise only too well.

This female macaque monkey at Longleat Safari Park had to come to the rescue after her overly-confident infant leapt on to her back only to discover it’s not quite as easy as it looks.

As the infant starts to slide off, mum puts out a helping hand and grabs hold of the youngster just before it hits the ground.

It’s not long before the suitably chastened young macaque monkey heads back to the safety of its mother’s front.

Infant macaques can be carried and nursed by their mothers’ for up to a year. As they mature they will be handled and carried by other close female relatives within the wider troop.

Often younger females will carry out this form of babysitting which is thought to prepare them for the rigours of motherhood in later life.

Found throughout south east Asia and across the Indian subcontinent rhesus macaque monkeys thrive in a wide variety of habitats and climates.

In some parts of India they are believed to be sacred with the result that they have lived in close contact with humans for countless centuries - particularly in and around Buddhist and Hindu temples.

Rhesus monkeys are extremely intelligent, naturally inquisitive animals which can learn to manipulate simple tools and distinguish colours and shapes.

In studies at the Columbia University in America scientists have discovered that they even have the ability to count.

Highly sociable they live in family troops of 20 or more led by a dominant male. Food is gathered as a group - one monkey acting as "look-out" for danger, while the others fill their cheek pouches with as much food as they can.

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Twin Joy For Rescued Ring Tailed Lemur

3rd April 2014

A rescued ring tailed lemur has given birth to twins at Longleat.

The twins, who were born last week, are making the most of the mild spring weather as they enjoy a spot of sunbathing with mum Hasina.

Hasina and dad Julien are part of a troop of the playful Madagascan primates which live in a walkthrough enclosure at the Wiltshire safari park.

Both were rescued as youngsters from unsuitable living conditions and given a new home at the park, although they still bear the scars of their ill treatment – Hasina has some of her fingertips missing and Julien only has half a tail.

The babies, which were born on March 25th, are both doing well but have yet to be named.

The name lemur itself derives from the Latin word ‘lemures’ which means ghost and probably came from their nocturnal habits, ghost-like appearance and mournful-sounding cries.

Keeper Beverley Evans said: “Ring-tailed lemurs are at risk in the wild due to a combination of habitat loss, degradation and hunting.

“Hasina is a very laid back mum and this is her third pregnancy. She seems to have taken the whole birth very much in her stride and is an extremely attentive mother,” she added.

In the mornings the ring-tailed lemurs sunbathe to warm themselves. They face the sun sitting in what is frequently described as a "sun-worshipping" posture or lotus position.

Sunning is often a group activity, particularly during the cold mornings. At night, troops will split into sleeping parties huddling closely together to keep warm

The spacious Lemur Walkthrough enclosure is home to both ring tailed and brown lemurs and features extensive rope-swings and wooden walkways which provide the lemurs with the perfect opportunity to demonstrate their extraordinary agility and climbing skills.

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Spring Clean For Longleat Library

13th March 2014

Staff at Longleat House are undertaking their own, specialised version of a spring clean this month.

Longleat House has no fewer than seven libraries containing more than 40,000 books in total, many of which are rare or unique.

This year a team of eight have been painstakingly working their way through close to 3,000 volumes, contained in the Green, Ante and Red Libraries.

Longleat’s Assistant Librarian and Rare Books Cataloguer Matthew Baalham said: “We concentrate on the books which are closest to where visitors walk as this creates more dust.

“We use special, low-suction vacuum cleaners and it takes between three and fifteen minutes to clean each book depending on age, size and how delicate it is - some exceptionally large and dirty books take longer.

“I’d say the key requirements are concentration, attention to detail, and diligence, as well as knowing how to clean the books in a particular way,” he added.

The libraries are among the finest in any private house in England. Approximately 130 books are known as ‘incunabula’ which means they were printed before 1500, the earliest dates back to 1470.

Many of the books are extremely rare; ranging from 17th century political pamphlets through to a Shakespeare First Folio.

Others, such as the ‘Book of Cookery’ published by Pynson in 1500 are unique, being the earliest known printed volume in English on the subject.

The library’s origins date back to the 16th century, when the house was built by Sir John Thynne, and there are still books in the collection which were owned by him.

The library was greatly expanded through the prolific collecting of Thomas Thynne, First Viscount Weymouth, in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

Further additions were made during the 19th century by Thomas Thynne, Second Marquess of Bath, and John Alexander Thynne, Fourth Marquess of Bath, whose books are generally contained in the Green, Ante and Red Libraries.

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Work To Start On £1.2m Haven For Anne The Elephant

5th March 2014

Longleat Safari & Adventure Park is to start work on a major new purpose-built haven for Anne the elephant.

It will include a 994-square-metre heated accommodation area with deep sand floors, natural sky light panels, automated feeding systems and a specialist treatment area.

An extensive 3.9 acre outdoor space will feature a large grassy paddock, rocks, log piles, a giant browse frame, sand pits and use of a water pool all year round.

The new £1.2m facility will offer a permanent home for Anne, Britain’s last circus elephant, who has been cared for at Longleat since April 2011.

Since arriving at Longleat, Anne has been under the full-time care of three highly-experienced keepers and has received specialised veterinary care, osteopathy and ongoing medical treatment.

Following the launch of a public campaign, Longleat has received a significant level of support to the development of Anne’s new haven. Additionally Longleat plans to personally invest £50,000 a year for the next five years to develop and support international programmes with a focus on improving the welfare of captive and working elephants around the world.

To ensure the new refuge met the highest of standards, Longleat arranged a  two-day seminar which was attended by elephant advisors, veterinarians, leading sanctuary experts and individuals from animal welfare groups from around the world.

They concluded Longleat provided the best possible option for the sixty-year-old elephant to live out the remainder of her life.

Longleat’s Director of Animal Operations, Jon Cracknell, said: “Anne’s remarkable improvement in both health and overall physical condition is due to the environment and care she has received since arriving.

“The aim of the seminar was to ensure we undertook a full and frank assessment of what was best for Anne. This new development will provide her with the very best facilities to live out the rest of her life in comfort.

“We’re pleased to have got such widespread backing for the new facility and we are aiming to begin work in the next few weeks,” he added.

Having consulted with leading industry experts at the seminar it was concluded that it was in the best interest of Anne’s health due to her age for her not to have a companion. Concerns were expressed that mixing her with other unfamiliar, new elephants could be detrimental to her health and wellbeing.

If a situation did arise where an elephant needed rescuing and rehabilitating, Longleat would be open to cases on an individual basis. An assessment would take place with external parties to ensure the correct decisions were made in Anne’s best interest.

The seminar also concluded that it would not be suitable to site a larger elephant sanctuary at Longleat and alternative locations in warmer climates would need to be investigated.

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Longleat’s Flyin’ Lions

21st January 2014

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Super-cat!

If you’ve ever wondered what the big cats get up to when the visitors have gone home these extraordinary images from Longleat Safari & Adventure Park reveal a hidden side to the world-famous pride.

The set of photos, which were taken by Longleat keeper Ian Turner while the Wiltshire park was closed to the public, capture the amazing moment a trio of daredevil lions decided to climb to the top of a 10-metre-tall oak tree.

“I was busy taking photos of some new cubs which were venturing outside for the first time when the other keepers alerted me that something unusual was happening elsewhere in the enclosure,” said Ian.

“One female seemed to be the leader and she went up first, then once she had reached the top the other two just followed her up.

“It’s not unusual for one or other of the lions to climb up one of the smaller trees, but this wasn’t a small tree,” he added.

Despite being taller than a double-decker bus, the tree didn’t seem to provide them with too much of a challenge, but it was what happened next that really took everyone by surprise.

“There wasn’t a lot of room at the top and we just expected them to climb back down again,” said Ian.

“However they seemed to have a different idea, and the first female simply leapt off the top.

“It all happened very quickly, but when I was able to study the images afterwards you can see that, just like a domestic cat, she was able to rotate her legs around in mid-air and land on all four paws.

“The second lion soon followed her down in similar fashion, but the third one was a lot less confident and, after spending several minutes alone up there, she decided to climb back down.

“It’s something none of us have ever witnessed before and it was just total coincidence that I was there and able to capture it,” he added.

Female lions usually reach their full size by the age of three. Adult lions can weigh up to 200 kgs and grow to lengths in excess of three metres.

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New Tests Reveal Longleat Painting May Be Last Portrait Of Henry VIII Painted In His Lifetime

16th January 2014

A picture of King Henry VIII, which has been on display in Longleat House, in Wiltshire for more than 300 years, could be the last portrait of the Tudor monarch painted during his lifetime.

Although the high quality, half-length portrait, which is painted on a panel made up of four oak boards, bears the inscription: '.Anno RR . 36. .Etatis. 54.' (‘The 36th year of the king’s reign and in the 54th year of his age’, that is between 28 June 1544 and 21 April 1545) it had been thought it could be a later copy, painted after the king’s death in January 1547.

However, recent dendrochronological examination, using annual growth rings to date and locate the wood used, has revealed three of the boards are made from a single oak tree which could have been felled in the eastern Baltic sometime in or shortly after 1529.

“Although this only represents a date after which the portrait must have been painted, it does allow for the key conclusion that it remains possible the work is of the same date as that implied by the inscription it bears,” said Longleat Curator Dr Kate Harris.

An early date within the king’s lifetime is also suggested as a strong possibility by the provenance of the painting. 

“It is recorded in the Longleat archives as having been purchased from the collection of the Earls of Pembroke at Wilton in the 1680s by the 1st Viscount Weymouth.

“Sir William Herbert was created Earl of Pembroke in 1551 – he was married to Anne Parr, sister of Henry VIII's sixth wife, Catherine Parr. 

“Given the trajectory of his career, it would be entirely appropriate for him to have owned a good likeness of Henry VIII,” added Kate.

The Longleat image is based on the portrait tradition established in 1537 by Hans Holbein’s large mural painted for the king’s Privy Chamber at Whitehall. 

Holbein’s mural was destroyed by fire at the end of the 17th century. Its appearance  is known through a much smaller oil on canvas copy of 1667 by Remigius van Leemput which is now at Hampton Court.

“It seems the face in Henry’s official portraits was updated as he aged through direct observation of the king by the artist, or artists, concerned,” said Kate. 

“The chief significance of the recent technical examination of the Longleat panel painting is the possibility it is the latest image of Henry VIII drawn direct from the life,” she added.

As a result of the new findings the portrait’s insurance valuation has been reviewed and considered a significantly more treasured item within the extensive collection at Longleat House.

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Longleat Staff Reach New Heights Decorating Giant Christmas Tree

9th December 2013

Intrepid staff at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park are taking the art of Christmas decorating to new heights with their extraordinary 60 foot tall singing tree.

It takes a team of 15 people three days to decorate the giant tree, which is the centrepiece for the festive celebrations.

The tree is covered with 300,000 lights, has more than 3,000 baubles and 24 huge snowflakes hanging from its branches.

Made from 18 separate sections and incorporating an extraordinary six miles of lighting cables, the tree was created by a team of British craftsmen and is the only one of its kind in Europe.

Staff use a crane to decorate the highest sections of the tree, which plays a selection of traditional Christmas music and carolsand features a series of spectacular light shows.

Longleat’s Steve Mytton said: “With so many lights, so much cable and decorations to put up it has been a massive undertaking, but to see the tree in place and working is amazing.

“It manages to combine several Christmas traditions into one package; a seasonal tree, twinkling lights as well as carols and festive songs. There can’t be too many other experiences like this.

“Whilst the tree looks pretty impressive by daytime, it really comes to life after dark and once the shows begin you can truly appreciate what an amazing sight it is!

“The giant tree certainly proves to be an interesting focal point for our visitors with children dancing around it and parents swaying in time to the music behind. It certainly gets people into the Christmas spirit,” he added.

Running until Saturday, January 4th ‘Christmas at Longleat’ brings together the magic of the festive season in a spectacular new event.

Visitors can enjoy the experience of skating on real ice on a huge outdoor ice rink, watch favourite fairy-tale characters come to life in the enchanted surroundings of Longleat House as well as the giant singing Christmas tree which dances in time to festive tunes.

Plus there's the opportunity to take an unforgettable train journey deep into the woods to meet Santa Claus himself in his snowy log cabin home.

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Tigers Leave No Leaf Unturned as Autumn Finally Falls at Longleat Safari Park

4th December 2013

Clearly it’s not just children who find the prospect of leaping into a mound of Autumn leaves simply irresistible.

Tigers, monkeys and meerkats at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park also joined in the seasonal fun and games, with a little help from the Wiltshire attraction’s team of gardeners.

Piles of autumnal leaves collected on the estate are providing a novel new attraction for many of the Safari Park’s residents; including a trio of endangered Amur tigers.

All three of the big cats were apparently fascinated by the fallen leaves; particularly when they discovered keepers had hidden a selection of tasty treats inside.

“The tigers love anything new to investigate and they were soon leaping into the leaves and hunting out the food inside the mounds,” said Longleat’s Ian Turner.

“The leaf litter also provided the perfect opportunity for them to practice their ambush skills – it’s quite a sight to see fully-grown tigers leaping over piles of leaves!

“The leaves went down equally well with our troop of macaque monkeys who wasted no time in wading into the mounds and start foraging for food, although the meerkats were a little more wary before jumping in and joining the fun,” he added.

Longleat’s team of gardeners are usually kept busy clearing leaves from the middle of October until the end of December.

However this year’s milder weather has meant the main leaf drop is only now taking place.

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Longleat Elves Wrap 25,000 Christmas Gifts By Hand

26th November 2013

In what must surely be one of the biggest present production lines outside of Lapland, a group of elves have been hand wrapping more than 25,000 festive gifts at Longleat.

The gigantic gift wrapping exercise began back in October as staff at the Wiltshire attraction prepared to welcome thousands of excited children on board their Santa Express to meet Father Christmas.

The resulting present mountain was so large it had to be stored in a separate warehouse before being transported out to Santa’s Grotto where each present was individually addressed to a specific child in readiness for their meeting with the great man himself.

Longleat’s Steve Mytton said: “Christmas really does come early here as we have to start the wrapping process in early October to ensure we have all the presents wrapped and ready.

“Santa insists that each gift is categorised for a specific age group and gender to ensure all the children go away happy and it’s a huge undertaking.

“We wrap so many presents that we have to have an almost continuous conveyor belt of gifts leaving the warehouse and arriving at Santa’s woodland grotto.

“Generally the ages of children who meet Santa is from little babies to young teenagers, however we have had special requests for people up to the age of 70 to receive a gift from Father Christmas!

“Due to their popularity we estimate we will be running close to 400 trains over the festive period with Santa Claus even agreeing to stay on until early January to cope with demand,” he added.

The Santa Express is part of a series of Christmas events and activities taking place at Longleat over the festive period.

The Wiltshire estate is also home to the UK’s only giant singing Christmas tree which stands more than 50-feet-tall and features 300,000 lights. 

Longleat House has been transformed in to an enchanted world filled with fairy-tale characters and there is also a giant outdoor ice skating rink.

For full details on the Longleat Santa Trains and Christmas at Longleat Click here>>

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Biggest Christmas Ever at Longleat

18th November 2013

Longleat Safari & Adventure Park’s Christmas celebrations will be bigger and better than ever before with a host of festive attractions to enjoy.

Running from Friday, November 15th until Saturday, January 4th* Christmas at Longleat brings together all the magic of the holiday season in one amazing day out.

From Santa trains, ice skating and a giant singing Christmas tree to pantomime dames, a winter safari and penguins. There’s a world of festive fun just waiting to be discovered.

Visitors to the award-winning Wiltshire attraction can enjoy the experience of skating on real ice on the huge Outdoor Ice Rink. Sessions will run daily throughout Christmas and there will be special appearances on the ice by Longleat’s very own skating Snowman character.

There’s the opportunity to hop on board the hugely popular Santa Express for a magical journey and unforgettable meeting with Father Christmas himself in his snowy woodland grotto. Don’t forget to say hello to his trusty reindeer.

The unique, giant 50ft Singing Christmas Tree, which has over 300,000 individual lights and is the only one of its kind in the Europe, forms the centrepiece of Christmas celebrations in the Stable Yard.
Fairytale favourites Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf will be joining a host of other characters including Jack and the Beanstalk, Peter Pan, Aladdin, Cinderella, Prince Charming and The Fairy Godmother inside Longleat House bringing the enchanted world of Pantomime Tales magically to life.

Even Scrooge, Widow Twankey and the Ugly Sisters are joining in the fun, plus there’s the chance to add your wishes to the magical Wishing Tree.

The adorable inhabitants of Longleat’s newest attraction Penguin Island will also be waiting to amaze and amuse visitors with their underwater acrobatics.

Plus there’s Festive Stalls close by with everything from decorations to funstocking fillers, winter woollies plus delicious Christmas food and drink.

Many of Longleat’s other attractions are also open throughout the festive season. Visitors can embark on the Winter Safari, get up close to the animals in Jungle Kingdom, take the Deadly Challenge, explore the Adventure Castle andlots more!

For full details of Christmas at Longleat click here>>

*Longleat Christmas open dates 2013 - Friday to Sunday only: Friday 15th Nov - Sunday 8th Dec. Daily: Friday 13th Dec - Saturday 4th Jan (excl. Christmas Day).

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See the magic this year at Longleat!

14th November 2013

Give your family a truly unforgettable day out this Christmas. Singing Christmas Tree, Pantomime Characters, Ice Skating and the Santa Express as well as all your Safari & Adventure park favourites.

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Noel Edmonds Joins ‘007’ To Set Off Longleat’s Fireworks Spectacular

1st November 2013

TV star Noel Edmonds is to officially launch Longleat’s Fantastic Fireworks display on Saturday, November 2nd.

The ‘Deal or No Deal’ presenter will join the Wiltshire attraction’s very own ‘007’ to start the display featuring classic adventure music from the movies including the famous ‘James Bond’ theme.

Longleat’s Operations Director, Simon Cox said: “We’re delighted Noel will be able to officially launch our fireworks spectacular this weekend.” 

There will also be a giant bonfire to mark the start of the official Bonfire Night celebrations.

Special Twilight Tickets are available which allow entry from 4pm for just £7.50 per person (Noel will join ‘007’ on stage to officially set off the display at 6.30pm).

Designed by internationally renowned firework firm Dragonfire, Fantastic Fireworks features a spectacular display set in time to popular music from the movies.

Dragonfire is one of the UK’s leading firework display companies committed to producing safe, spectacular and innovative firework entertainment. It is internationally renowned for its displays and special events and has been behind many of the UK’s most prestigious displays in recent years.

Tickets can be bought via the Longleat website or directly from the entrance tollgates. For more information and to book any of the events click here or call 01985 844400.

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Pumpkin Trick Goes Down a Treat With Safari Park’s Animals

28th October 2013

Carved pumpkins filled with a selection of tasty treats have been proving popular with animals at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park.

Keepers at the Wiltshire attraction provided a selection of their residents with the early Halloween present.

Among the grateful recipients were the park’s trio of Amur tigers – whose pumpkin was suspended on a rope like a giant cat’s toy.

Perhaps unsurprisingly the troupe of mischievous macaque monkeys wasted little time in investigating their own treat-filled squashes and other pumpkins offered a novel new attraction for both the park’s family of anteaters and red panda.

Even Tali, a female boa constrictor, managed to get in on the act.

Longleat’s Ian Turner said: “It’s become something of a tradition for us to have a competition to see which members of staff can come up with the best carved pumpkin.

“However for the animals, the pumpkins’ appearance was of a lot less interest than what was inside as we had hidden a variety of treats within them.

“The tigers in particular got very excited and were literally leaping off the ground to get to theirs and the anteaters made good use of their extra-long tongues to give the inside of their pumpkin a thorough inspection.

“Once again though it was the monkeys who seemed to get the most from the experience as they not only got all the treats inside but also used the pumpkin as a swing before then breaking it up in to smaller segments and sharing it amongst them,” he added.

Human visitors can also join in the Halloween-themed fun with Longleat’s infamous Halloween Spooktacular Festival (Saturday, October 19th – Monday, November 4th) featuring everything from ghost trains and giant pumpkin trails, spooky tours of Longleat house, Halloween shows and fiendish fireworks’ displays.

For more information on Halloween at Longleat click here

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Gorilla Goes Out On A Limb In Acorn Hunt!

23rd October 2013

For Alf, the lowland gorilla, the lure of a horde of autumnal acorns proved irresistible – even if it did involve venturing out on the barest of branches.

The great ape fearlessly scaled new heights as he went in search of the seasonal treats at Longleat Safari& Adventure Park in Wiltshire – much to the apparent consternation of his brother Evindi, who remained firmly rooted to the ground.

Brothers Alf and Evindi, along with fellow sibling Kesho, are part of a bachelor group of gorillas at the Safari Park who live in a spacious enclosure alongside a lake.

Keeper Mark Tye said: “Alf has always been the more adventurous of the brothers and he also seems to be the most fearless.

“We’re not entirely sure why he felt the need to climb up quite so high to collect the acorns as there were plenty lying on the ground but perhaps he was looking for a bit of peace and quiet and knew the others weren’t going to join him.

“Although the branches look quite delicate, Alf is a very smart gorilla and he carefully tested them before venturing out along them,” he added.

All three brothers, who were born at Dublin Zoo, were reunited for the first time in 2010 to form the new bachelor colony at Longleat.

Featuring more than a dozen mature trees in an extensive outdoor grassed area, the spacious gorilla enclosure overlooks Longleat’s Half Mile Lake and utilises natural boundaries wherever possible without the barriers of bars or glass.

In addition to the existing trees, keepers have installed a selection of outdoor climbing logs and frames. The gorillas also share a large indoor shelter with a communal area featuring ropes, swings and climbing apparatus.

For more information on Gorilla Colony click here

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Halloween Spooktacular Festival at Longleat

18th October 2013

Longleat’s infamous Halloween Spooktacular Festival is back and it’s bigger and badder than ever with a host of thrills and chills taking place over the October Half-Term Holidays (Saturday, October 19th – Monday, November 4th).

Listen to tales of terror and intrigue in the spooky surroundings of Longleat House and go in search of mysterious apparitions in the gloomy cellars, shadowy attics and chilling corridors as part of the frightfully popular Spooky House Tours.

Due to popular demand there will be even more of the daytime tours taking place throughout the festival. Plus, for the truly fearless, there are the all-new after dark Ghoulish Torchlight Tours from 7pm.

Among the other grisly goings-on there will be the chance to hop on board the Ghost Train for a spine-tingling trip into the wild woods!

Witches have taken over the Great Hall and have been brewing up trouble with their horrible Halloween Shows. Also keep an eye out for other creepy costume characters on your way around the park!

Visitors can follow the giant Pumpkin Trail around the attractions and children can get crafty having a go at carving their very own jack ‘o’ lantern.

You can also enjoy a creepily close encounter with Dracula in the infamous Bat Cave. Plus there’s the chance to get hands-on with a selection of creepy crawlies in the Nasty But Nice Shows!

Longleat Safari & Adventure Park will also be staging a series of fabulous fireworks extravaganzas!

Fiendish Fireworks (October 25th–26th) features a spine-tingling display to accompany a specially compiled medley of ghoulish and hair-raising tunes. Plus there’s an equally spectacular adventure-themed display set to classic movie music to mark the official Bonfire Weekend on November 1st-2nd.

• For more information and to book any of the events, including the all-new Ghoulish Torchlight Tours (places are limited) click here

 

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Life of Crime Begins Early for Cheeky Monkeys

25th September 2013

When you’re born in to a dynasty of master car thieves it’s perhaps not surprising that a life of petty crime starts early among Longleat’s infamous troop of rhesus macaque monkeys.

This trio of young juvenile delinquents were spotted playing tug-of-war with a section of car trim which they had recently ‘liberated’ from a passing vehicle in the Safari Park.

Renowned for their keen interest in all things automotive, the cheeky monkeys’ drive-through enclosure is one of the most popular attractions at Longleat – despite their tendencies to tinker with visitor cars.

Keeper Ian Turner said: “The macaques have always been extremely inquisitive and have been fascinated with visitors’ vehicles for decades.

“As well as catching free lifts on passing cars, they do also occasionally like to keep a ‘souvenir’ of their ride in the shape of loose fitting car parts such as aerials, wiper blades and car trim.

“Car-hopping is equally popular among males and females and even having a toddler in tow doesn’t seem to deter the mums from indulging in some petty car thefts.

“The babies spend the first few weeks of their lives pretty much permanently attached to their mothers, and it would appear they are very fast learners,” he added.

Found throughout south east Asia and across the Indian subcontinent rhesus macaque monkeys thrive in a wide variety of habitats and climates.

In some parts of India they are believed to be sacred with the result that they have lived in close contact with humans for countless centuries - particularly in and around Buddhist and Hindu temples.

Rhesus monkeys are extremely intelligent, naturally inquisitive animals which can learn to manipulate simple tools and distinguish colours and shapes.

In studies at the Columbia University in America scientists have discovered that they even have the ability to count.

Highly sociable they live in family troops of 20 or more led by a dominant male. Food is gathered as a group - one monkey acting as "look-out" for danger, while the others fill their cheek pouches with as much food as they can.

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Keepers Keep Thunder Birds in the Pink!

11th September 2013

Four flamingo chicks are having to be hand reared by keepers at Longleat Safari Park after the eggs were abandoned by their parents during a thunderstorm.

Keepers at the Wiltshire wildlife park are using syringes to feed the endangered Chilean flamingos after all four eggs were artificially hatched in an incubator.

Adult flamingos build a volcano-shaped nest and lay a single egg, which they then usually sit on for around a month.

However a violent thunderstorm is believed to have caused all five parents to simultaneously abandon their nests and forced keepers to intervene.

“It’s extremely unusual for all the parents to abandon their eggs at the same time, however the storm was particularly severe and the adults decided to head for cover – leaving us to look after the eggs,” said Longleat’s Mark Tye.

“We carefully removed them from their nests and put them into an incubator, where they started hatching out within a week.

“All four chicks are now almost a month old and doing extremely well, although they are keeping us busy as each one has to be fed up to five times a day,” he added.

Flamingos lay a single egg on top of a tall cone nest. All chicks are born with white plumage, which they keep for around three years, and a straight bill which gradually droops down as the bird grows.

Fully grown they are around a-metre-and-a-half tall, and can weigh anywhere up to seven kgs.

They live 15-20 years in the wild, however in captivity, and safe from predators, they can reach ages of 70 years.

The Chilean flamingo can survive at high altitude in the Andes mountains. They are also significantly more cold-hearty than their Caribbean counterparts.

In the wild flamingos eat small crustaceans and other microscopic animals and plants which are obtained by filter feeding.

When adult, the continuously moving beak acts as an efficient filter for food collection when water is pumped through the bristles of the mouth.

At Longleat they eat a special flamingo diet that contains pigments essential for maintaining their distinct colour.

The name flamingo came from the Latin word for flame. The Romans considered flamingo tongues a delicacy.

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Hot September for Cool Penguins

5th September 2013

A group of Humboldt penguins enjoyed a cooling shower in Longleat Adventure Park's new walkthrough display this week.

Keepers used watering cans to keep the lovable birds cool in the late summer sunshine.

The multi-million-pound exhibit is the first in Britain to enable the flightless birds to actually walk amongst visitors.

Penguin Island is a 225,000-litre naturally-themed display which is home to a colony of 30 captive bred Humboldt penguins. Visitors can enjoy spectacular views from both above and below the waterline via giant viewing windows.

Originally from South America, the Humboldt penguin is found in and around coastal Peru and Chile.

The penguin gets its name from the cold water current it swims in, which was discovered by the explorer Alexander von Humboldt.

Humboldt penguins reach a maximum height of 70 cm and weigh up to 6 kg.

In the wild the penguins are under threat from climate change, overfishing and the acidification of the oceans.

They are now officially listed as ‘Vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature which means they are at immediate or imminent risk of becoming endangered.

As well as the new penguin display, Longleat has also created a second stunning seawater feature. Stingray Bay is a giant, open-topped display housing a selection of marine stingray species.

For more information on Penguin Island click here

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Barefaced Beak As Have-A-Go Heron Hops On A Hippo

20th August 2013

At first glance it must have looked like the perfect spot for a heron to do some fishing on a lake at Longleat Adventure Park.

Indeed the ‘rocks’ looked so appealing the heron was soon sharing its prime waterside location with a pair of ducks.

None of the birds seemed overly-concerned to discover the rocks in question were actually the massive backs of Longleat's most dangerous residents – a pair of moody hippos called Spot and Sonia.

At close to 3.5 metres in length and weighing in at around 1.5 tonnes each, it’s easy to see how the ducks could have mistaken Spot and Sonia’s backs as a handy haul out.

However neither hippo seemed to be overly concerned by the birds’ presence and keeper Jon Reynolds believes both duck and heron may even provide a spot of personal grooming for the hippos by picking off any insects which land on them.

“Spot and Sonia having been living in the lake here at Longleat since 1976, they share it with a group of Californian sea lions and in the past we’ve actually seen some of the young sea lion pups jumping on to the hippos’ backs as a sort of game,” said Jon Reynolds.

“Although they’re both fairly short-tempered they seem to put up with this sort of treatment without too much fuss. Their skin can be up to seven cm thick in places so I doubt they even feel the sensation of feet on their backs” he added.

Hippos have a semi-aquatic lifestyle and can remain underwater for over five minutes. Out of water, they are fast runners, and if they feel threatened, will race back to the safety of the water.

Their eyes, ears and nostrils are all positioned on top of the head so that they can be almost totally submerged, but still be able to use all of their senses. When diving, they can close their ears and nostrils and they also have webbed toes enabling them to move through the water more efficiently.

In the summer the hippos graze on the grass in their lakeside pasture and on the weed found in the lake. During the winter months their natural diet is supplemented with hay, high fibre cubes and bananas when available.

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Monkeys Go Ape for Ice Cream Van

15th August 2013

Longleat’s monkeys are famed for their mischievous behaviour, but even they could hardly believe their luck when an ice cream van entered their drive-through enclosure.

Safari keepers at the famous Wiltshire wildlife attraction had enlisted the help of local ice-cream seller Colin Robb to provide some cooling treats for their troop of rhesus monkeys.

Despite the obvious attractions of flakes and ice cream cones however, the monkeys were restricted to a choice of special fruit-based ice lollies – which seemed to prove equally popular.

“Colin’s ice-cream van is a familiar site as he lives on the Longleat estate, so we thought it would be a nice idea to ask him to come along and provide the monkeys with a cooling treat,” said Longleat’s Ian Turner.

“Obviously it was just a one-off and we did it under closely controlled conditions but it certainly seemed to go down well,” he added.

Despite dealing with hungry children on a daily basis, Colin admitted he was surprised by the welcome he received from the primates.

“I’m used to dealing with cheeky monkeys, but these guys are in a totally different league!” he said

“Almost the moment I got in to their drive-through enclosure they were leaping on the van and doing their best to remove the giant plastic ice cream cones from the front of the vehicle.

“While my attention was on a group trying to open the window, others were trying to peel the stickers off the side of the van,” he added.

Found throughout south east Asia and across the Indian subcontinent rhesus monkeys thrive in a wide variety of habitats and climates.

In some parts of India they are believed to be sacred with the result that they have lived in close contact with humans for countless centuries - particularly in and around Buddhist and Hindu temples.

Rhesus monkeys are extremely intelligent, naturally inquisitive animals which can learn to manipulate simple tools and distinguish colours and shapes.

Highly sociable they live in family troops of 20 or more led by a dominant male. Food is gathered as a group - one monkey acting as "look-out" for danger, while the others fill their cheek pouches with as much food as they can.

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Longleat Celebrates BIAZA Big Bug Bonanza Week!

6th August 2013

Running each day this week, keepers down at Animal Adventure are hosting a series of fun activities for 'Big Bug Bonanza Week' in association with BIAZA (British & Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums).

The activities, which take place between 5th – 11th August will allow visitors to hold and learn about a variety of insects and creepy crawlies that exist in the bug world.

As part of BBBB there will be presentations from experts in the bug world who will be on hand to showcase some amazing bug displays. Some of the presentations include a moth and butterfly expert, bee keeping equipment for visitors to see and learn about as well as a special ‘hunt the bug’ activity!

Keepers at Animal Adventure have specially prepared a bug base to show how easy it is to make your very own bug home!

Visitors are also encouraged have a go at handling some of Longleat’s resident bugs with a special Animal Adventure diploma on offer for all successful bug fans!

The events and activities are FREE with a valid Day Ticket or Annual Pass and take place daily (5th – 11th August) in Animal Adventure

For more information on BIAZA Big Bug Bonanza (BBBB) click here

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Leaping Lemurs of Longleat

5th August 2013

With their puppy dog eyes and teddy bear-like face lemurs are famed for their cute and cuddly appearance.

However a pair of the Madagascan primates resorted to spectacular flying Kung Fu moves which would not have looked out of place in a Jackie Chan movie to resolve a disagreement within Longleat Safari Park recently

The two ring tail lemurs, renowned for their agility and ability to leap from tree to tree in their forest homes, entertained visitors with an acrobatic display of apparent fisticuffs – although on closer inspection the pair never actually made contact with each other.

Keeper Dan Gray said: “It does look incredibly impressive when you see them sparring with each other and leaping through the air, however it’s all bluster and they very rarely come to blows.

“It’s like one of those choreographed fight scenes in a martial arts’ movie – the only thing that’s lacking is the thwacking sound effects!” he added.

The name lemur itself derives from the Latin word ‘lemures’ which means ghost and probably came from their nocturnal habits, ghost-like appearance and mournful-sounding cries.

In the mornings the ring-tailed lemur sunbathes to warm itself. It faces the sun sitting in what is frequently described as a "sun-worshipping" posture or Lotus position.

Sunning is often a group activity, particularly during the cold mornings. At night, troops will split into sleeping parties huddling closely together to keep warm

The spacious Lemur Walkthrough enclosure is home to both ring tailed and brown lemurs and features extensive rope-swings and wooden walkways which provide the lemurs with the perfect opportunity to demonstrate their extraordinary agility and climbing skills.

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Naomi Wilkinson Hosts Deadly Summer Shows At Longleat

23rd July 2013

The star of CBBC’s ‘Live ‘n Deadly’ - Naomi Wilkinson - will be hosting a series of Deadly-themed live shows at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park this summer.

Naomi - who also presents CBBC’s ‘Wild’ and ‘Naomi’s Nightmares of Nature’ - will treat visitors to some close encounters with a selection of Longleat’s deadliest animals during her ‘Deadly Summer Show’. These exciting and informative shows will take place four times daily from 7th – 18th August.

Staged in Longleat’s outdoor Hunters of the Sky Arena, the shows will also star a number of their resident birds of prey. Animal guests joining Naomi and the birds in the Arena will include giant boa constrictors, skunks and a number of other creatures with deadly reputations.

“I’m really looking forward to being down at Longleat over the summer to introduce some of the world’s deadliest animals to the visitors at the park”, said Naomi.

“The shows are 100% live so you can never be totally sure what to expect, but that’s what makes working with animals so exciting. Hopefully the audiences in the arena will have as much fun watching from the safety of the stands as I do getting up close and personal with these incredible creatures.”

Naomi will be joined in the arena by Longleat’s renowned experts from the Hunters of the Sky team who help her to tame some of the deadliest aerial predators in the world.

Entry to the shows is included with a valid Longleat day ticket or annual pass but places for each performance will be limited and therefore allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

The ‘Deadly Summer Show’ is part of ‘Deadly Adventure at Longleat’, a four year partnership with BBC Worldwide, which transforms areas of the park in the style of the BBC’s Deadly shows. Other Deadly attractions include ‘Deadly Safari’ and the newly-opened ‘Deadly Challenge’.

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See our New TV Advert!

18th July 2013

The “New Adventures of Longleat” are Wilder, Closer, Faster, Scarier, Deadlier, Bigger and Better the Ever! Watch our new advert and see all the amazing new attractions that have come to Longleat Safari & Adventure Park.

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March Of The Penguins

18th July 2013

March Of The Penguins
  • March Of The Penguins
  • March Of The Penguins
  • March Of The Penguins

Longleat Safari & Adventure Park’s latest arrivals took time out to explore some of the famous Wiltshire estate’s most iconic attractions.

The trio of Humboldt penguins, who are part of a major new aquatic attraction which opens at the weekend, visited Longleat House and even tried to navigate their way around the infamous hedge maze.

Keeper Darren Beasley said: “Humboldt penguins are naturally curious and love to investigate. This particular group is extremely used to people and we thought it would be good for them to do some exploring and get to know their surroundings better.

“As part of their new display visitors will have the opportunity to actually walk inside part of their enclosure and the penguins will then be able to choose whether they want to interact with people,” he added.

Originally from South America, the Humboldt penguin is found in and around coastal Peru and Chile.

The penguin gets its name from the cold water current it swims in, which was discovered by the explorer Alexander von Humboldt.

Humboldt penguins reach a maximum height of 70 cm and weigh up to 6 kg.

In the wild the penguins are under threat from climate change, overfishing and the acidification of the oceans.

They are now officially listed as ‘Vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature which means they are at immediate or imminent risk of becoming endangered.

Opening this weekend (Saturday, July 20th) Penguin Island is a 225,000-litre naturally-themed display which is home to a colony of 19 captive bred Humboldt penguins. Visitors can enjoy spectacular views from both above and below the waterline via giant viewing windows.

As well as the new penguin display, Longleat has also created a second stunning seawater feature. Stingray Bay is a giant, open-topped display housing a selection of marine stingray species.

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Summer Of Fun At Longleat

12th July 2013

Summer Of Fun At Longleat
  • Summer Of Fun At Longleat
  • Summer Of Fun At Longleat
  • Summer Of Fun At Longleat
  • Summer Of Fun At Longleat

There’s a fun-packed programme of amazing activities, fantastic features and extraordinary events taking place at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park this summer.

Penguin Island is a 225,000-litre naturally-themed seawater display which is home to a colony of adorable Humboldt penguins. Visitors can enjoy spectacular views from both above and below the waterline via giant viewing windows.

As well as the new penguin display, Longleat has also created a second stunning seawater feature. Stingray Bay is a giant, open-topped display housing a selection of marine stingray species.

Officially opened by TV presenter Steve Backshall, Deadly Challenge is the latest addition to Deadly Adventure at Longleat, a partnership with BBC Worldwide, which transforms areas of the park in the style of the BBC’s Deadly shows which include Deadly 60; Deadly Top 10s; Deadly 360 and Deadly Art.

Located next to the park’s Adventure Castle, Deadly Challenge is made up of six themed zones focussing on different animals’ deadly abilities– the Venom Zone, the Power Zone, the Superpower Zone, Agility Zone, Ambush zone and the Speed Zone.

Plus the star of CBBC’s ‘Live and Deadly’ shows, Naomi Wilkinson will also be at Longleat for the new Summer Deadly Show from August 7th-18th with a selection of weird and wonderful wild animals from skunks and snakes to mighty birds of prey!

Postman Pat is making a welcome return with some great new features including a life-size recreation of Greendale village and an entrance shaped like a giant post box! Younger visitors will also be able to come face to face with Pat himself in his driveable bright red van.

Finally, back by popular demand are the wonderful Masai Dancers who will be entertaining visitors to the Safari Park’s African Village from July 21st – August 31st.

The group will feature a total of five dancers, two drummers, an acrobat and a fire-eater. The dancers are from the internationally-renowned Masai Cultural Arts, a community based organisation that promotes and educates African culture through African performance and workshops.

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Popular BBC One Series Appeals For Visitors’ Memories of Longleat

11th July 2013

Flog It! Paul Martin with Crowd at valuation day event
  • Flog It! Paul Martin records a piece to camera at a Flog It! valuation day event
  • Longleat House

Longleat House and gardens are set to provide the perfect backdrop for BBC Flog Its valuation day being held at the estate on Thursday 18th July between 09.30am and 4pm.

The production team behind the successful series are inviting people to bring along up to three antiques or collectables they would like valued free of charge by a skilled panel of experts. The most interesting items that come through the doors will be filmed for inclusion on the show and then sent to auction, often with extremely impressive and surprising results for their owners.

Wiltshire based presenter Paul Martin and his team will be making five editions of Flog It! from the days recording at Longleat. Every programme will include an insert film which will showcase an aspect of the local areas history or heritage. Not surprisingly when Flog It! visits Longleat the BBC are planning on telling the story of how in 1949 it became the UK’s first stately home to open its doors to visitors, and how in 1966 it became home to the world famous Lions of Longleat which led to the foundation of today’s modern safari park.

It’s not just antiques and collectables the Flog It! team want people to bring along to the valuation day. To help tell the story of Longleat visitors are also invited to bring along any mementos, photographs or souvenirs they may have from the estates past. The production team are keen to hear any tales people have to tell linked to Longleat, e.g. were you first in the queue when the safari park opened or maybe popped you the question on the boat to Gorilla Island!

Andrew Taylor, Researcher on Flog It! says “We would love to hear from people with memories of happy days out at Longleat or who might have items related to its past, this will really help us to illustrate the story of Longleats fascinating past.”

Experts joining Paul Martin on the valuation day include the Somerset based auctioneer Claire Rawle, and long standing Flog It! specialists Michael Baggott and David Fletcher.

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Monkeys Bowled Over By Longleat’s ‘Ape Ashes’

10th July 2013

Monkeys Bowled Over By Longleat's Ape Ashes
  • Monkeys Bowled Over By Longleat's Ape Ashes
  • Monkeys Bowled Over By Longleat's Ape Ashes
  • Monkeys Bowled Over By Longleat's Ape Ashes

A troop of monkeys at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park proved their skills go far beyond dismantling visitors’ vehicles with their own unique tribute to the Ashes this week.

The Wiltshire attraction may have looked less like Lord’s and more like lords of the jungle, but the rhesus monkeys appeared to take great interest in the cricket set which was provided for them by keepers.

During last year’s tour of India, the England cricket team were famously held up following a pitch invasion by monkeys; however for this particular match it was passing humans in their cars which kept interrupting play.

Longleat’s Ian Turner said: “It would be something of an exaggeration to say they grasped the finer points of the game – within minutes of setting it all up one of the younger males ran off with the ball and refused to give it back.

“That didn’t seem to put the others off though and one individual seemed very keen on holding on to the cricket bat – I know that Botham in his pomp was affectionately known as ‘Guy the Gorilla’ and it looks like we might have discovered our own miniature version.

“One of the other youngsters became absolutely fascinated by the stumps and kept fiddling with the bails, so we’ve nicknamed him Dickie after the world’s greatest umpire.

“A few of the visitors seemed to think the monkeys might have a better chance than the Aussies in the forthcoming Ashes but we couldn’t possibly comment,” he added.

Found throughout south east Asia and across the Indian subcontinent rhesus monkeys thrive in a wide variety of habitats and climates.

In some parts of India they are believed to be sacred with the result that they have lived in close contact with humans for countless centuries - particularly in and around Buddhist and Hindu temples.

Rhesus monkeys are extremely intelligent, naturally inquisitive animals which can learn to manipulate simple tools and distinguish colours and shapes.

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Chris Evans Roars In To Longleat With Priceless Car Collection

5th July 2013

Chris Evans Roars In To Longleat With Priceless Car Collection

BBC Radio 2 DJ and One Show presenter, Chris Evans roared into Longleat on Thursday, July 4th as part of the ‘Children in Need Drive and Dine extravaganza’.

He was accompanied by seven lucky couples who bid for the chance to drive seven Ferraris along with a further five couples in a collection of classic cars including the 1965 Aston Martin DB5 which appeared in the James Bond film ‘Goldeneye’.

The full roll call of vehicles read like a car enthusiasts’ wish-list: 1961 Ferrari TR61, 1961 Ferrari 250 SWB California Spyder, 1963 Ferrari 250 GT SWB, 1965 Ferrari 275 GTS Spyder, 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO, 1990 Ferrari F40, 2011 Ferrari SA Aperta – known collectively as the ‘Magnificent Seven’.

Plus a 1970 Jaguar E-Type, 1973 Lamborghini Muira, 1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Berlinetta, the 1965 Aston Martin DB5 and a 1965 Morris Mini Cooper S - a replica of the cars used in ‘The Italian Job’ film – dubbed the ‘Famous Five’.

Together The Magnificent Seven and The Famous Five packages raised an astounding £801,797 for BBC Children in Need back in November.

The convoy of cars set off from Chris' home in Berkshire, and is stopping off at various locations along the way including Longleat before winding up at Goodwood for the Festival of Speed.

On arrival at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park, Chris Evans, along with his auction-winning drivers, parked up outside the front steps of Longleat House for a short picnic and a chance to take in the beauty of the 900-acre estate.

To mark the unveiling of the new Penguin Island area at Longleat next month, Chris and the other drivers were met by a pair of giant Emperor penguins sporting Hawaiian shirts.

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Baby Joy For Rescued Ring-Tailed Lemurs

2nd July 2013

Baby Joy For Rescued Ring-Tailed Lemurs
  • Baby Joy For Rescued Ring-Tailed Lemurs
  • Baby Joy For Rescued Ring-Tailed Lemurs
  • Baby Joy For Rescued Ring-Tailed Lemurs

A pair of rescued ring tailed lemurs have given birth to a baby boy at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park.

Mum Hasina and dad Julien are part of a troop of the playful Madagascan primates which live in a walkthrough enclosure at the Wiltshire safari park.

Both were rescued as youngsters from unsuitable living conditions and given a new home at the park, although they still bear the scars of their ill treatment – Hasina has some of her fingertips missing and Julien only has half a tail.

The baby, which was born on June 9th, has been named ‘Casper’ after the cartoon ghost.

The name lemur itself derives from the Latin word ‘lemures’ which means ghost and probably came from their nocturnal habits, ghost-like appearance and mournful-sounding cries.

It’s relatively unusual for lemurs to have single babies as they more commonly give birth to twins.

Keeper Beverley Evans said: “Ring-tailed lemurs are one of the most endangered primates in the world due to a combination of habitat loss, degradation and hunting.

“Hasina is a brilliant mum and Casper will spend virtually all of his time for the next 12 weeks holding on tightly to her.

“After that she will encourage him to become more independent and start to fend for himself,” she added.

In the mornings the ring-tailed lemur sunbathes to warm itself. It faces the sun sitting in what is frequently described as a "sun-worshipping" posture or Lotus position.

Sunning is often a group activity, particularly during the cold mornings. At night, troops will split into sleeping parties huddling closely together to keep warm

The spacious Lemur Walkthrough enclosure is home to both ring tailed and brown lemurs and features extensive rope-swings and wooden walkways which provide the lemurs with the perfect opportunity to demonstrate their extraordinary agility and climbing skills.

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What do you mean it was out?!

24th June 2013

Seemingly dwarfed in his huge hands, a silverback gorilla at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park gets to grips with a tennis racquet in the run up to Wimbledon which starts today

Even the famously belligerent John McEnroe might think twice before challenging a line call with western lowland silverback gorilla Boulas.

And it would take a brave umpire indeed to penalise the massive primate for racquet abuse.

Tipping the scales at around 220kgs, 26-year-old Boulas is certainly a force to be reckoned with and keepers were intrigued to see how he reacted when they placed a tennis racquet and balls in his extensive outdoor enclosure.

Longleat’s Ian Turner said: “Boulas is a typical silverback who wants everyone to know how tough he is so we didn’t think the racquet would last too long once he got hold of it.

“However he was actually surprisingly gentle with it and although it looked like a child’s toy in his hands, he seemed genuinely intrigued by his new plaything – although none of us dared tell him it wasn’t really the done thing to lick the strings!” he added.

Male silverbacks rely on superior strength and power to control the rest of the group and Boulas can often be seen beating his chest and showing off his muscles to display his authority to passing visitors.


He is part of a bachelor group of western lowland gorillas at Longleat who live together on a lakeside retreat close to Longleat House.

Featuring more than a dozen mature trees in an extensive outdoor grassed area, their spacious enclosure overlooks Longleat’s Half Mile Lake and utilises natural boundaries wherever possible without the barriers of bars or glass.

In addition to the existing trees, keepers have installed a selection of outdoor climbing logs and frames. The gorillas also share a large indoor shelter with a communal area featuring ropes, swings and climbing apparatus.

To find out more on Gorilla Colony at Longleat please click here

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Endangered Vulture Chick Hatches at Longleat

17th June 2013

An endangered African vulture chick has hatched at Longleat Safari Park.

The African white backed vulture hatched out last month after a 58-day incubation.

The chick is the third to have been reared successfully at Longleat in recent years but it’s a first for this pair of birds.

Longleat’s Mark Tye said: “Vultures worldwide are increasingly under threat from a wide range of factors including human persecution, poisoning, loss of habitat and electrocution as a result of hitting power cables.

“More than half of the planet’s 24 species are now officially threatened or endangered, so for us to be successfully breeding these birds in captivity here at Longleat is great news.

“The previous two chicks were born during the winter so for this particular egg to hatch out in May has made it much easier for the parents to look after without any need for us to intervene.

“At this stage we don’t want to disturb the birds any more than is absolutely necessary so we are keeping our distance and can’t tell for sure whether the new chick is male or female – but he or she is doing really well,” he added.

As its name suggests the African white backed vulture is found throughout the continent and is both its most widespread and populous vulture.

Like other vultures it is a scavenger, feeding mostly from carcasses of animals which it finds by soaring over savannah.

It also takes scraps from human habitations. It often moves in flocks and breeds in trees on the savannah of west and east Africa, laying a single egg.

As it is rarer than previously believed, its conservation status was reassessed from Least Concern to Near Threatened in the 2007 IUCN Red List.

In 2012 it was further upgraded to ‘Endangered’ which means a species of organisms facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild.

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Flog It! Comes to Longleat

4th June 2013

The popular BBC One antiques programme Flog It! presented by Paul Martin, is coming to Longleat on Thursday 18th July.

Flog It! – the major BBC antiques show is now on its twelfth series and regularly achieves an audience of over two million viewers in its weekday afternoon slot.

Longleat House and gardens will be hosting the Flog It! valuation day.  Rather like a treasure hunt, members of the public are invited to bring along up to three antiques and collectables they might be interested in selling. Once valued, the owner and a team of experts decide whether an item should go forward for auction.  If the item is chosen it is included in a sale a few weeks later –hopefully when the auctioneers hammer falls its owners make a tidy sum.  Everyone who goes along to the Valuation Day will receive a free valuation – even if their antiques are not chosen to go forward for auction.

Last year the show made a significant find when a rare Aboriginal Broad Shield that had been kept hidden away in a Flog It! viewers wardrobe was brought along to a valuation day in North Lincolnshire and went on to sell at auction for £30,000! The series also uncovered an unusual Royal Doulton Spook figurine in Blackpool which had been bought at a car boot sale for £2; it went on to sell at auction for £5000.

Louise Hibbins, Series Producer says “Paul Martin and the entire Flog It! team are really pleased to be bringing the show to Wiltshire. Longleat will provide the perfect setting for our valuation day event; our experts are all looking forward to welcoming people along for their free valuations.  If you’ve ever wondered how much your boot sale bargains or clutter in the loft might be worth, now is your chance to find out.”

Longleat media manager, Steve Mytton says: “It’s fantastic to have Flog It! come to Longleat. The House and gardens will provide the perfect backdrop for the programme as well as a place for people to discover what their antiques are really worth. With over 450 years of history within the House and estate in addition to all the antiques expected to be brought here I’m sure Flog It! will feel right at home!”

Paul Martin who lives in the village of Seend near Melksham will be joined on the valuation day by Flog It! on screen experts David Fletcher, Mark Stacey and Michael Baggott.

Flog It! will be at Longleat House, Longleat, Warminster, Wiltshire, BA12 7NW on Thursday 18th July between 09:30am and 4pm. The items selected at the valuation day will go under the hammer at Henry Aldridge & Son Auctioneers, Unit 1 Bath Road Business Centre, Bath Road, Devizes, Wiltshire, SN10 1XA on Saturday 10th August.

ENTRY TO THE FLOG IT EVENT IS FREE. ACCESS TO LONGLEAT HOUSE, SAFARI AND ADVENTURE PARK IS NOT INCLUDED AS PART OF THE FLOG IT! EVENT, STANDARD ADMISSION CHARGES APPLY

For more information on Flog It! click here or contact [email protected]

 

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New Arrivals a Handful for Keepers at Longleat

30th May 2013

Keepers at Longleat’s Jungle Kingdom have got their hands full looking after their newest arrivals – a quartet of rescued boa constrictors with a total length in excess of seven metres.

The four giant snakes, the largest of which is called Zeus and measures 2.2 metres in length, were all re-homed at the Wiltshire attraction after being rescued by the RSPCA.

Boas use constriction to kill their prey, coiling their body around their victim and slowly crushing the life out of them.

If the meal is particularly large, the snakes can make use of their specially adapted jaws - known as reticulated jaws - which can literally dislocate to allow the snake to get its mouth around the unfortunate prey.

In addition to the snakes, keepers are also having to handle another new arrival carefully – in the shape of a rescued striped skunk called Oreo.

The skunk was originally kept as a pet and when it arrived at Longleat was significantly overweight.

Keeper Rebecca Earner said: “When we first got Oreo he was quite nervous and also not in the best of health.

“We estimate he is around two to three years old and had been kept by someone as a pet. Recently skunks have become popular for people to keep at home but they need lots of attention and special care which make them difficult to look after properly.

“It has taken a lot of time and patience but Oreo is now a much fitter and happier skunk. His weight is down to just over six kilogrammes and he has settled in really well to his new home here,” she added.

Found throughout the USA and southern Canada, skunks are notorious for their use of ‘chemical warfare’ to ward off would-be predators and other potential threats.

They can spray a noxious substance from special glands which can travel up to three metres and causes a deeply unpleasant smell which can cause nausea.

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New Deadly Challenge For Visitors To Longleat

23rd May 2013

Longleat Safari & Adventure Park invites visitors to face the ultimate test of their mental and physical abilities when they try out the brand-new Deadly Challenge attraction which opens this week.

The Wiltshire attraction is officially unveiling its latest feature inspired by the BBC’s hugely popular Deadly branded programmes in time for the Whitsun holidays.

Located next to the park’s Adventure Castle, the Deadly Challenge is made up of six themed zones focussing on different animals’ deadly skills– the Venom Zone, the Power Zone, the Superpower Zone, Agility Zone, Ambush zone and the Speed Zone.

Longleat’s Steve Mytton said: “Each Challenge tests a different set of skills in a fun and highly-interactive way – it’s not all about brawn as brains are also extremely important, as well as reactive and observational skills.”

Starting at the Deadly Challenge Mission Control, visitors will receive a Deadly briefing video from Steve Backshallhimself. They will then have to put their skills to the test in a series oftimed challenges to find as many deadly creatures as possible throughout the Deadly Challenge. At the end of each challenge, visitors will be given a skull rating to determine their overall ‘Deadly’ rating at the end of the game.

“The new Deadly Challenge is just one of a brand new series of Deadly experiences and events which are happening at Longleat,” said Steve Mytton.

“You¹ll be able to get a full appreciation of some of the skills these Deadly animals have; from the ambush abilities of the Nile crocodile to the incredible power of a polar bear and the awesome speed of a cheetah!

"These challenges will give people the opportunity to experience, for a few minutes of their life, what it’s really like to be one of these animals. To strike like a rattlesnake, climb like a gecko and swing through the trees like a monkey," he added.

The Deadly Challenge is the latest addition to the Deadly Adventure at Longleat, following on from the opening of the Deadly Safari at Easter. It’s the start of a four year partnership with BBC Worldwide, which transforms areas of the park in the style of the BBC’s Deadly branded programmes which include Deadly 60; Deadly Top 10s; Deadly 360; Deadly Art and most recently Deadly Mission Madagascar as seen on CBBC.

Need to know:

The Deadly Challenge is free with a Day Ticket or Annual Pass.

It is located next to the Adventure Castle within Longleat Adventure Park

For more information on the Deadly Challenge click here

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Fishing Legends to Attend Longleat Country Show

9th May 2013

Longleat will shortly be playing host to some of the biggest names in fishing when they launch their inaugural Fishing and Country Show on June 14th-15th.
The show is set to be the largest of its kind in the South of England, providing visitors with the chance to see, and take part in, a variety of carp, coarse, fly and game fishing activities across the three lakes at the front of Longleat House.

Designed to appeal to families, the event also includes an Artisan food village with local and International speciality food and drink, cookery demonstrations hosted by Aga with top class chefs, two lakeside picnic areas, and the Land Rover 4x4 Experience.

Among those already confirmed to attend are multiple World Freshwater Angling champion Bob Nudd, angling Guru Charles Jardine and the presenter of Sky Sport’s ‘Thinking Tackle’ Danny Fairbrass.
Organisers are also planning to reveal the identity of a number of major celebrities who will also be making an appearance in the next few weeks.

Co-organiser and double English national Flyfishing champion Chris Ogborne said he is delighted with the number of top anglers and exhibitors who will be taking part.
“For two days in June Longleat’s fishing lakes and surrounding lawn, which are set against the stunning backdrop of Longleat House will be transformed into a top class showground that will break the mould of previous fishing-oriented events and will set new standards for a country show.

“The principal focus is to showcase the sport of fishing and to attract youngsters and newcomers into becoming the next generation of anglers.  
“There will be tutorials, live fishing demonstrations and hands-on help with the choosing of tackle. The lakes at Longleat are well stocked and there is the very real probability that youngsters will catch their very first fish here.

“At the other end of the scale of expertise, the very top anglers in the sport will be showing customers just why they are at the top of their game. 
“Members of the England fishing teams will combine with acknowledged experts in the sport to share their skills and to offer tips and advice,” he added.

The very biggest tackle makers including Hardy Greys, Korda, Preston Innovations, Sonik and Loop will be showcasing their latest products. Top retailers like FatFish, Experience Fishing, Garry Evans and Stockport Fly Shop are also confirmed along with speciality bait makers, flytyers, Trade Guilds and bodies and even a Kayak manufacturer.

Tickets for the two-day show are now available online and will provide visitors with fast track entry to the event site.

For more information about the Fishing & Country Show or to buy tickets click here

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Monkeys Swap Wheels For Wildebeest!

18th April 2013

Longleat Safari Park’s mischievous monkeys have long been famous for their seemingly-endless enjoyment of jumping all over visitors’ cars.

However it’s not just passing vehicles which have attracted their attentions, as a plucky few have now taken to hopping on to the park’s resident herd of wildebeest as well.

Keepers at the award-winning Wiltshire wildlife attraction managed to grab some photos of the rhesus monkeys’ newest form of transport – riding on the backs of the giant antelope.

Longleat’s Ian Turner said: “Rhesus monkeys are renowned, infamous even, for their insatiable curiosity and playful nature.

“Ours have been climbing all over visitors’ vehicles for generations so I suppose we shouldn’t have been surprised to find them going that one step further.

“Amazingly the wildebeest really don’t seem to be bothered by their temporary new jockeys at all and just carry on as if they weren’t even there.

“Having said that, I’m not entirely sure what they could do if they weren’t happy with the situation as the monkeys are so quick and agile they are always able to keep well out of harm’s reach.

“At first we wondered if the monkeys might be checking the wildebeests’ coats for any insects or parasites, but the more we’ve studied them the more we think they’re just doing it because it’s fun,” he added.

Rhesus monkeys are extremely intelligent, naturally inquisitive animals which can learn to manipulate simple tools and distinguish colours and shapes.

In some parts of India they are believed to be sacred with the result that they have lived in close contact with humans for countless centuries - particularly in and around Buddhist and Hindu temples.

In the wild wildebeest face danger from lions, hyenas and even crocodiles, however at Longleat their biggest threat is being used as a climbing frame by the mischievous monkeys.

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Longleat Tigers Put ‘Deadly Safari’ Signage To The Test

10th April 2013

Devising indestructible new signage which can survive the rigours of daily life in a safari park was always going to be a tall order.

However the big cat keepers at Longleat were so confident they were up to the challenge they decided to put the new signs to the ultimate test - with the help of their trio of tigers.

The signage is part of a major new Deadly Adventure series of features which are being unveiled at the Wiltshire attraction this year and acting as Deadly symbols for visitors to spot as they journey through the park.

Deadly Safari is the first experience visitors can get of Longleat’s Deadly transformation with a brand new guide which has been voiced by CBBC Deadly presenter, Steve Backshall himself.

Encountering some of Longleat’s deadliest creatures, visitors learn about the critical predator versus prey relationships that exist in the wild; discover amazing facts about the animals that reside at Longleat and get to hear some of the fascinating stories from Steve’s on screen adventures.

Longleat’s Steve Mytton said: “We needed to create signage which was in keeping with the natural environment, relatively easy for people to spot and also strong enough to stand up to some of the world’s most impressive predators – particularly our lions, tigers and cheetahs.

“We had a couple of early teething problems but we’re now pretty confident we’ve got the signage in exactly the right areas and although they clearly created some interest among the big cats at first, they seemed to survive their attentions relatively unscathed – and we have got some duplicates ready, just in case!” he added.

Deadly Safari marks the launch of the new Deadly Adventure at Longleat, a four year partnership with BBC Worldwide to transform areas of the park in the style of the BBC’s hugely popular Deadly branded programmes which include Deadly 60; Deadly Top 10s; Deadly 360; Deadly Art and most recently Deadly Mission Madagascar as seen on CBBC.

Also arriving at Longleat in May 2013 is the Deadly Challenge, which will see aspiring adventurers pitch their skills against the clock and some of the world’s most lethal creatures in a series of mental and physical challenges.

To find out more about the new Deadly Safari click here

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Deadly’s Steve Backshall A Roaring Success!

6th April 2013

CBBC TV presenter, Steve Backshall amazed audiences over Easter weekend with live shows as part of the launch of the new Deadly Adventure at Longleat.

The Deadly themed Easter shows which ran between 31st March and 1st April attracted thousands of spectators over the two days who were lucky enough to see the Deadly presenter in the flesh!

The show was presented alongside Longleat's resident Hunters of the Sky Team from the Hawk Conservancy Trust who introduced Peregrine Falcons, White Backed Vultures, a Barn Owl, Hooded Vultures,
Black Vultures and Yellow Billed Kites. Also on hand to wow spectators were some more familiar Deadly creatures to Steve, including a snapping Turtle and reticulated python

Jimmy Robinson, keeper at Hunters of the Sky said: "It was an amazing weekend and having the opportunity to work alongside such a professional as Steve Backshall was incredible. Despite the cold weather all our visitors seemed to really enjoy the shows and have the opportunity to see their on-screen wildlife hero!"

The event saw the start of a new 4 year partnership with BBC Worldwide which will see the introduction of several new Deadly themed features and attractions within the Safari & Adventure Park based around the popular BBC TV series. Already open is the Deadly Safari which is a new guide voiced by Steve Backshall and coming in May will be the new Deadly Challenge.

For more information on the Deadly Adventure at Longleat click here >>

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Anne The Elephant - Easter Update

5th April 2013

Despite the recent cold spell of weather Anne the elephant has still been able go outside to enjoy her two paddocks and the enrichment features within them.
The recent dry spell has been advantageous for Anne and has given her more opportunities to explore her grassy enclosure too. She has loved interacting with the massive tree stumps within it. Keepers have even had to chain the logs together as she loves nothing more than rearranging them in awkward places within the enclosure where they can’t be retrieved! The mound of earth also seems to be a popular hang out for Anne to roll and throw mud about in.

Due to the cold weather Anne has been spending a bit more time in her warm indoor area, but this has given keepers the opportunity to do extra work on her feet and nails which are improving all the time. With all the rolling about in mud Anne’s been doing she also requires an extra good bath which has resulted in her keepers looking muddier than her!

Anne has now been living out her life at Longleat for 2 years and appears to have reveled in her new found freedom and luxuries!
With the Longleat Elephant Sanctuary plans now submitted we hope it won’t be too much longer until we are able to offer a similar haven to other elephants.

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New Parents Get The Hump With Reckless Rhino

27th March 2013

An overly-curious rhino got more than he bargained for when he got a little too close to a Critically Endangered baby Bactrian camel at Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire this week.

Mum Camilla and dad Dougie took a dim view of Marashi the rhino’s unwanted attentions and wasted little time in chasing the nosy interloper away.

Despite tipping the scales at around three tonnes, sporting a vicious-looking 40- centimetre-long horn, and having a hide up to five centimetres thick, Marashi was no match for the protective parents.

And even with a top speed in excess of 30 mph, the rhino wasn’t able to out-run the cross camels.

Keeper Ian Turner said: “It’s unusual for the camels to get quite so protective over their babies, however in this particular case mum Camilla has been particularly aggressive – and not just to the rhinos, the keepers have also had to keep on their toes as she’s just as likely to chase them away!

“In spite of her bad temper, she’s actually proving to be a really good mum and is extremely attentive to Nikki.

“I’m not exactly sure what the camels’ plan would be if Marashi ever actually decided to stop and stand its ground but he seems to have learned his lesson and is giving them all a wide berth,” he added.

The baby, which was born earlier this month, has been named Nikki by keepers.

Bactrian camels are critically endangered in the wild and Nikki is one of three babies born in the park over the past 12 months in addition to the already eight-strong group headed up by Dougie, the breeding bull.

Unlike their cousins the dromedaries, Bactrian camels have two humps and are covered in thick fur to protect themselves from the sub-zero temperatures of their Mongolian homeland.

Originally from the Gobi desert, Bactrian camels are becoming increasingly endangered in the wild - their main threats being poachers and wolves. However large numbers have been domesticated and are kept by herdsmen in Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and China.

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Steve Backshall, Presenter of CBBC’s Deadly 60 Joins Longleat This Easter to Host Live Shows

22nd March 2013

Longleat Safari & Adventure Park is turning Deadly this Easter and there’s only one person to call – Steve Backshall, star of CBBC’s wildly successful Deadly TV series who will present a programme of live shows at Longleat on Sunday 31st March and Monday 1st April.

This special event marks the launch of the new Deadly Adventure at Longleat, a four year partnership with BBC Worldwide to transform areas of the park in the style of the BBC’s hugely popular Deadly branded programmes which include Deadly 60; Deadly Top 10s; Deadly 360; Deadly Art and most recently Deadly Mission Madagascar as seen on CBBC.

Longleat are thrilled to welcome Steve Backshall at Easter to introduce some of Longleat’s Deadliest residents. He will be joined by several birds of prey that have being honing their skills as part of Longleat’s Hunters of the Sky displays.

Steve Backshall said: “Inspiring children to get out there, explore, see, do and find out something new is what Deadly is all about. I hope families will have fun taking part in the first Deadly Adventure at Longleat and be inspired to learn more about the amazing creatures they encounter here.”

Places for the event are free and available to visitors when they purchase a Longleat Day ticket or to holders of an  Annual Pass. Tickets to the live shows will be allocated on a first come first served basis via a special ticket hotline: 01985845544. The shows will also be relayed onto a giant screen within the park giving everyone the chance to see Steve Backshall at Longleat.

Longleat’s Steve Mytton, PR & Media Manager, said: “We’re delighted Steve has agreed to come down and present a series of live animal encounters to help launch the new features.

“He’s extremely popular with our visitors and we have been amazed at the levels of interest news of the live shows has generated already,” he added.

The first experience visitors will have of Longleat’s Deadly transformation is the Deadly Safari, opening Easter 2013, for which Steve Backshall has voiced a brand new guide. Encountering some of Longleat’s deadliest creatures, visitors will learn about the critical predator vs prey relationships that exist in the wild; discover amazing facts about the animals that reside at Longleat and be regaled with fascinating stories from Steve’s on screen adventures.

Also arriving at Longleat in 2013 is the Deadly Challenge, which will see aspiring adventurers pitch their skills against some of the world’s most lethal creatures in a series of physical challenges

·    Steve Backshall will be live at Longleat on Sunday, 31st March and Monday, 1st April. Entry to the shows is free with a Longleat Day Ticket or Annual Pass but visitors must have already bought these before phoning the ticket hotline. To reserve your place call the ticket hotline on 01985 845544. Lines are open 8am – 6pm daily. For more information click here

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Longleat Is Set to Go Moshi Monsters™ Mad For Easter

19th March 2013

Global kids hit Moshi Monsters™ are heading to Longleat Safari & Adventure Park this Easter Holiday!

From Wednesday 27th March to Tuesday 9th April, the Wiltshire attraction is playing host to a fun-packed fortnight of three amazing themed activities from the online world of Moshi Monsters.

Every day over Easter, children can hunt for the 8 giant Moshi Eggs that have been hidden around Longleat.

By successfully completing the search, fans of Moshi Monsters will be thrilled to receive a secret code to unlock an exclusive in-game item for the monsters room online at http://www.moshimonsters.com as well as a yummy Easter treat to take home that very day.

Characters Katsuma, Poppet, Diavlo and Luvli are also making an appearance at the Park each day, with regular appearances from 10am.

Visit between Friday March 29th and Sunday March 31st and you can get involved in the ultimate Mash Up Code Breakers Trading Card event!  Bring along your Code Breakers trading cards, or buy them on site, and swap your duplicate cards with the official Topps swappers!

There will also be informal swapping and a mini-tournament to take part in for your chance to be a Moshi Mash Up Master!

All activities are free with valid Longleat Day Tickets or Annual Passes.

For more information on this and any of the events taking place at Longleat in 2013 click here

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Rare Book Signed By Richard III Goes On Show In Longleat House

27th February 2013

A book that was given to King Richard III as a teenager has gone on public display at Longleat for the first time since it was written 550 years ago.

The rare signed book, which was written on vellum and features tales by Chaucer as well as other popular stories of the time, is part of a new exhibition on the Yorkist king which has opened at Longleat House in Wiltshire.

The book is one of only 13 of Richard III's books that is known to still exist. It is especially valuable as he has signed it 'R Gloucester' as he was only the Duke of Gloucester as a young man.

Above his signature he also wrote the words 'Tant le desieree', which means 'So much desired'.

It has been kept at Longleat since 1709 when it was purchased by Thomas Thynne, the First Viscount Weymouth, as part of a collection of medieval manuscripts.

Dr Kate Harris, curator at Longleat House, said: “It is a fascinating piece of history. His handwriting is extremely competent, which shows he was highly educated.

“Within the book are tales of derring-do, as well as classical Greek and Rome. Most of the books of the time were in French and Latin, so the fact that this one is in English is also unusual,” she added.

As well as the signed book, the new exhibition ‘The King’s Body: Richard III King of England 1483-1485’ features portraits on panel of the King alongside his two predecessors on the throne his brother, Edward IV and his nephew, Edward V as well as his successor Henry VII.

There are also on show original documents relating to the elder of the ‘Princes in the Tower’ who Richard was rumoured to have had killed.

As a pointed contrast there is also the three course menu for the coronation feast of Richard III himself. The dishes served to hundreds of diners in Westminster Hall included venison, roast cygnet, roast crane, roast heron, roast bittern, roast egret, sturgeon and pike.

The exhibition concludes with a copy of the First Folio Shakespeare of 1623. Shakespeare’s characterisation of the king in Richard III has had more influence on his reputation down the centuries than any historical document.

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Longleat Unveils Plans For New Elephant Sanctuary

20th February 2013

Longleat Safari & Adventure Park has unveiled detailed plans for a proposed new Elephant Sanctuary.

The plans, which have been submitted for approval, include a 994-square-metre heated accommodation area with deep sand floors, natural sky light panels, automated feeding systems and a specialist treatment area.

An extensive, 2.4-acre outdoor space will feature a large grassy paddock, rocks, log piles, a giant browse frame, sand pits and the ‘Thirst Pockets Elephant Spa’ which will give the elephants a pool to utilise.

The new sanctuary will offer a permanent home for Anne, Britain’s last circus elephant, who has been cared for at Longleat since April 2011 after secretly filmed footage showed her being abused by her former groom.

Longleat CEO, David Bradley, said: “We have been working hard on this project ever since Anne first arrived with us and have been overwhelmed by the generosity and support of the public.

“Donations both from visitors and members of the public will help part-fund the multi-million-pound development with the majority of the costs being met by Longleat.

“As part of the plan we have consulted extensively with other animal collections around the world as well as welfare experts, English Heritage and Natural England.

“It has been an incredibly complex and highly-detailed process but we are confident the proposals we have submitted will deliver an elephant rescue and rehabilitation facility which will utilise cutting edge knowledge to provide for the specialist needs of the elephants.”

The sanctuary can provide accommodation for up to four elephants, including Anne, however Longleat will not be re-homing other elephants until the new building has been completed.

Longleat’s Director of Animal Operations, Jon Cracknell, said: “The over-riding ambition is to provide the best habitat possible to encourage natural behaviours both indoors and outdoors.”

Mr Cracknell believes there are currently around 55 circus elephants in Europe.

“It will be a huge step forward creating the sanctuary here at Longleat. Although we cannot take in every elephant, we aim to lead by example and provide a facility to help rescued elephants which can be replicated elsewhere,” he added.

Since arriving at Longleat, Anne has been under the full-time care of three highly-experienced keepers and has received specialised veterinary care, osteopathy and ongoing medical treatment.

Keepers have been astonished with the improvement in the health of Anne, who is one of the oldest elephants in Europe and approaching 60 years. There has been a complete transformation in the condition of her skin, feet, trunk, ears and general muscle tone.

Her current home features a large grassed paddock, heated indoor accommodation, giant sandpit, tree rubbing posts, rocks, a sun shelter and several other enrichment features.

It is hoped that, once approved, work will begin on the multi-million pound sanctuary later this year with a proposed completion date in 2014.

Longleat Safari & Adventure Park is a member of the British and Irish Association of zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA). BIAZA represents its member collections and promotes the values of good zoos and aquariums.

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Safari Guide In Line for National Tourism Superstar Award

11th February 2013

A safari guide at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park has been nominated for a prestigious national travel award.

Wayne Grimston, who escorts visitors on VIP Safari Tours at the award-winning Wiltshire attraction, is among 10 finalists for the title of Tourism Superstar 2013.

The award, which is run by national tourist board, VisitEngland aims to find the country’s unsung holiday hero – someone who makes breaks in England extra special and goes above and beyond the call of duty to offer visitors a priceless experience.

This year the award – which was launched in 2012 focuses on employees at English visitor attractions.

Nominations were received from throughout the country and the team of judges announced their shortlist of 10 – including Wayne, who is the only representative from the Wessex region.

“It’s a real honour to have been shortlisted for the award and now I am just hoping as many people as possible will vote for me,” said Wayne.

“I’ve been able to fulfil lifelong ambitions with various organisations and individuals on the VIP Tours including the ‘Make a Wish Foundation’ where it’s vitally important I provide a day out for families which they can cherish and remember forever.

“I love my job because it gives me the incredible opportunity to talk passionately about some amazing animals and their personalities to all sorts of different people.

“I’m hoping the public will vote for me because there aren’t’ that many people that have seen the inside of a lions mouth so many times… and survived!” he added.

Videos of all the nominees are now available to view at www.mirror.co.uk/tourismsuperstar where you can also vote for your favourite. The winner will be announced during English Tourism Week, which runs from March 16th-26th (voting closes on March 8th).

The eventual winner will be honoured at the annual VisitEngland Awards for Excellence gala dinner in Manchester in May.

Click here to vote for Wayne to win!


·         For more information on Longleat’s VIP Tours visit www.longleat.co.uk/vip

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BBC Worldwide and Longleat Join Forces For A Real-Life Deadly Adventure

9th February 2013

BBC Worldwide and Longleat Safari & Adventure Park are joining forces to create a spectacular new series of Deadly-themed features at the world famous Wiltshire attraction

The four year plan will see areas of the park transformed in the style of the BBC’s wildly successful Deadly branded programmes which include Deadly 60; Deadly Top 10s; Deadly 360; Deadly Art and most recently Deadly Mission Madagascar as seen on CBBC.

Philip Murphy, Managing Director of BBC Worldwide Live Events said: “Bringing a real-life Deadly adventure to Longleat Safari & Adventure Park is a fantastic opportunity that demonstrates what the Deadly brand is all about, encouraging children to explore the natural world and discover its wonders for themselves.”

From Easter 2013 visitors to the park will be invited to go on a Deadly Safari discovering some of Longleat’s deadliest creatures. Presenter Steve Backshall has voiced a brand new guide to the safari which incorporates fascinating facts and experiences from his on screen adventures. Visitors will be given a special Safari Activity Book full of information and tasks to test their spotter skills as they explore the park, learning about vital predator prey relationships that exist in the wild and encountering some of Longleat’s most famous deadly residents including lions, tigers and wolves.

Also coming in 2013 is a Deadly Challenge zone which will see aspiring Deadly Adventurers pitch their skills against those of some of the world’s most lethal creatures!  Can you climb like a macaque monkey, match the strength of a polar bear and dodge a vipers strike?  Most important of all, how many animals on the Deadly List can you find in a race against the

clock? Check points along the way will feature quizzes and challenges from Steve Backshall who will want to see what each Adventurer has learned about the Deadly creatures they’re tracking.
                       
Longleat CEO, David Bradley, said: “We’re delighted to be working with the BBC on this exciting project and having the opportunity to bring ‘Deadly’ to our visitors. With so many amazing animals here at Longleat the new 'Deadly Adventure' experiences will give our visitors the chance to experience first hand all the exciting elements of the TV programme right here in the wilds of Wiltshire!”

Deadly Adventure at Longleat will open from 31st March 2013 with entry free with a valid Longleat Day Ticket or Annual Pass. Special seasonal Deadly Adventure events are also planned over the 2013 season starting this Easter to tie in with the opening of the Deadly Safari. To find out more please visit: www.longleat.co.uk/deadly

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Snow Day For Longleat Safari Park Animals

22nd January 2013

Even though some of us may have struggled to get about in the recent snowy conditions a few of the Safari Park animals have been out making the most of the weather.

Longleat's four Amur Tigers appeared to be the most inquisitive of the park animals and were even presented with specially built Snowmen which keepers made for them, complete with carrot noses! They made light work of them though, showing offer their predatory skills before exploring the rest of their enclosure which was several inches deep in snow.

Whilst a lot of the Safari Park animals were tucked up indoors in the warm some couldn't resist playing in the snow including the rhinos who charged around their enclosure kicking up the snow.

Meanwhile down at Animal Adventure some of Longleat's smaller residents including anteaters, otters and red Panda were also keen to check out the sudden change to their outdoor environment.

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Rain Doesn’t Stop Play for Longleat Lion Cubs

28th December 2012

A spot of rain did nothing to dampen the spirits of eight lion cubs at Longleat Safari Park as they ventured outside for the very first time.

The eight cubs, four males and four females, were born back in August however they hadn’t been allowed to join the rest of the pride until now.

They certainly made up for lost time though and even the pouring rain didn’t seem to be a problem for the youngsters who played and explored their new surroundings under the watchful gaze of mums Nikata and Louisa.

Both the first-time mums have impressed keepers with their attentive behaviour, although they are less patient when it comes to humans.

“Nikata and Louisa don’t seem to have any problem joining in the rough and tumble games with their cubs,” said keeper Bob Trollope.

“However they are extremely protective and are nowhere near as accommodating with us!” he added.

Within minutes of being released the cubs were covered in mud and leaves and were taking it in turns to try and balance their way along a slippery fallen tree trunk.

Several of the braver individuals even began perfecting their ambush skills on mum, although they were rather more cautious when dad Hugo came over to say hello.

“Both mums have four cubs with two of each sex and Hugo is also a first time father, however he is considerably less interested in the youngsters and soon went back to what male lions do best – sleeping!” said Bob.

Longleat is famed for its lions, which are kept in two separate prides. However this is the first time the ‘woodland’ pride has had cubs.

At birth the cubs were just a kilogramme in weight, but they now tip the scales at eight kgs

Male lions usually reach their full size by the age of two, while females will be about three years old before they’re fully grown. Adult lions can weigh up to 200 kgs and grow to lengths in excess of three metres.

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Anne the Elephant Enjoys Christmas at Longleat

22nd December 2012

Anne the elephant has been enjoying some richly-deserved festive cheer at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park in the run up to Christmas.

Despite the chilly, wet weather she has been playing with some of her favourite ‘toys’ in her outdoor area including tyre swings, a giant sandpit and tree logs.

Keepers also presented her with a special festive treat in the shape of some tasty Christmas cake along with her favourite fruit and vegetables wrapped up in a parcel.

Her indoor sleeping quarters are also rapidly getting covered up with stacks of Christmas cards from well-wishers and she even received a packet of wine gums!

Over the past few months Anne has been able to enjoy a new grassy area next to her paddock.

The new paddock, which measures almost an acre in area, adjoins her existing home and incorporates a series of elephant-sized additions including tree rubbing posts, branches and a mudpool.

Since her arrival in April 2011 Anne has had a new lease of life and continues to enjoy her retirement under the care and supervision of her experienced keepers and dedicated team of experts.

The difference and improvement in the condition of her skin, feet, trunk, ears and general muscle tone is clear to see and she certainly doesn’t look like an elephant in her 60th year!

Her keepers and everyone at Longleat are extremely grateful for the public support and messages of goodwill Anne has received over the past year.

In addition to her newly-extended home, Longleat are currently progressing with detailed planning proposals for a permanent elephant sanctuary on the estate to help other elephants in a similar position to Anne.

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The Snowman and The Snowdog at Longleat

21st December 2012

Visitors to Longeat will be able to watch the much-anticipated The Snowman and The Snowdog on a giant outdoor screen from December 26th – January 7th.

The sequel to Raymond Briggs’ classic The Snowman the animated film reunites audiences with The Snowman and introduces a new best friend, The Snowdog - complete with odd socks for ears and a satsuma for a nose.

The film will be screened several times daily on a giant screen located close to the giant outdoor ice skating rink and will be free with a valid Christmas Ticket or Annual Pass.

Longleat’s Steve Mytton said: “We’re delighted to be able to show the new film on a big screen so soon after its television premiere on Channel 4 at 8pm on Christmas Eve.

“It will provide a fantastic added attraction to our Christmas and New Year celebrations and will, I’m sure, appeal to visitors of all ages”, he added.

As well as screening the new film, Longleat will also be playing host to an ice skating Snowman costume character who will be joining visitors on the ice rink from December 22nd.

Working in close consultation with Raymond Briggs (author and creator of The Snowman, published by Puffin Books),  The Snowman and The Snowdog has been written by Hilary Audus and Joanna Harrison and is directed by Audus and art directed by Harrison - both of whom worked as animators on the original film. 

Originally adapted for the screen in 1982, The Snowman has been screened by Channel 4 every year since it was first transmitted and has enchanted generations of children.

Raymond Briggs began writing and illustrating children’s books more than forty years ago.

His unique and distinctive style became established with the publication of Father Christmas in the early 70s, followed by Fungus the Bogeyman, the satire on nuclear war When the Wind Blows and, in 1978, The Snowman, which has become one of the most popular children’s books ever published.

• Running until January 7th Christmas at Longleat brings together all the magic of the festive season in one amazing day out with outdoor ice rink, festive fayre, pantomime tales in Longleat House, Owls by Moonlight flying displays and the famous Santa Express. For details click here

 

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‘Sock Mountain’ Response to Christmas Chipmunk Appeal

20th December 2012

An appeal for odd socks to help keep a family of chipmunks warm over Christmas has left keepers at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park overwhelmed by people’s generosity.

Keepers at the Wiltshire wildlife attraction had issued a request for old socks for their chipmunks who use them as sleeping quarters and places to store their food.

However they weren’t prepared for the extraordinary reaction from the public who responded in their dozens – resulting in an ever-growing sock mountain as well as a number of Christmas stockings.

Longleat Keeper Darren Beasley said: “We made an appeal just over a month ago asking for old socks but we weren’t quite prepared for the huge number of socks the public have provided us with.

“There must be hundreds of them and we’re now looking for other uses for them around the Safari Park. One possibility is that we will be able to use them for bedding for some of our other animals.

“It’s an amazing gesture and we could hardly believe our eyes when each new package arrived in the post! We definitely have more than enough now so we’d kindly request no more are sent in,” he added.

The word 'chipmunk' is North American Indian for ‘head first’ so named as this is the method that they use to descend trees.

A chipmunk can carry nine large nuts at a time: four in each cheek pouch and one between its teeth. The chipmunk's cheek pouches can stretch almost to the size of their head.

They only collect hard food that does not mould, such as nuts and cones and can stock up to eight pounds of food in its burrows.

Running until January 7th Christmas at Longleat brings together all the magic of the festive season in one amazing day out with outdoor ice rink, festive fayre, pantomime tales in Longleat House, Owls by Moonlight flying displays and the famous Santa Express. Click here for more detail on Christmas at Longleat

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Gorillas Go Ape For Xmas Gifts

13th December 2012

Gorillas Go Ape For Xmas Gifts
  • Gorillas Go Ape For Xmas Gifts
  • Gorillas Go Ape For Xmas Gifts
  • Gorillas Go Ape For Xmas Gifts

Christmas came early for a group of gorillas at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park when they were presented with a sackful of festive presents.

Brothers Alf, Evindi and Kesho were fascinated by the brightly wrapped gifts and carefully tore holes in the Christmas paper to try and see what was inside.

Each of the parcels contained a selection of their favourite fruits and vegetables and it didn’t take long for the huge Western lowland gorillas to tear off the paper and get to the treats inside.

Longleat’s deputy head keeper Ian Turner said: “The gorillas were really interested in the wrapping paper and spent several minutes looking at it and carefully inspecting each of the presents before taking off the paper.

“It’s always amazing to see just how gentle these hugely powerful apes can be and to admire their dexterity as they tore back little bits of the wrapping to get a peek at what was inside,” he added.

All three brothers, who were born at Dublin Zoo, were reunited for the first time earlier this year to form the new bachelor colony at Longleat.

Featuring more than a dozen mature trees in an extensive outdoor grassed area, the spacious gorilla enclosure overlooks Longleat’s Half Mile Lake and utilises natural boundaries wherever possible without the barriers of bars or glass.

In addition to the existing trees, keepers have installed a selection of outdoor climbing logs and frames. The gorillas also share a large indoor shelter with a communal area featuring ropes, swings and climbing apparatus.

And it wasn’t just the great apes who enjoyed some early festive spirit. Longleat colony of mischievous rhesus monkeys also got in on the act when they were given Xmas gifts of their own – keepers even provided them with signs reminding Santa not to miss them out on Christmas Eve.

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Tall Order As Endangered Giraffe Gives Birth To Bouncing Six Foot Baby

23rd November 2012

Tall Order As Endangered Giraffe Gives Birth To Bouncing Six Foot Baby
  • Tall Order As Endangered Giraffe Gives Birth To Bouncing Six Foot Baby

Keepers at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park are celebrating the birth of an Endangered baby giraffe - all six foot two inches of her!

The new arrival is the latest success in an ongoing breeding programme for Rothschild’s giraffes at the famous Wiltshire attraction.

In 2010 the giraffe was officially described as Endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species which means it faces the very real danger of extinction the wild in the near future.

And despite only being a month old, Mary is already taller than most of her keepers and busy exploring the outside world with mum.

Giraffes are the tallest animals in the world and, after a 15-month pregnancy, mum Eliza gave birth standing up, leaving Mary to negotiate a tricky six-foot drop to the ground.

This violent entry into the world, far from harming the newborn calf, actually helped to stimulate her to start breathing on her own. Within minutes of being born Mary was standing - no mean feat with four long legs to coordinate, but vital in the wild to avoid the unwanted attentions of predators on the African savannah.

Deputy Head Warden, Ian Turner, said: “We’re extremely proud of the success of our giraffe captive breeding programme here at Longleat. Mary’s mum Eliza was also born here.

“They’re both doing well and have already been introduced to the rest of the herd. Eliza’s being a very attentive mother and Mary is enjoying exploring safe in the knowledge that mum is never far away,” he added.

There are nine recognised giraffe sub-species and the Rothschild's is the second most threatened, with fewer than 670 individuals remaining in the wild. It has almost entirely disappeared from its former strongholds in southern Sudan, Kenya and Uganda. It now survives in only a few small and isolated populations.

Fully grown male giraffes can grow to heights in excess of five and a half metres. They can reach speeds of up to 56 kilometres per hour and, in captivity, can live to be 28 years old.

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Longleat Pantomime Dames In Three-Day ‘Boo-t Camp’

21st November 2012

Longleat Pantomime Dames In Three-Day ‘Boo-t Camp’
  • Longleat Pantomime Dames In Three-Day ‘Boo-t Camp’
  • Longleat Pantomime Dames In Three-Day ‘Boo-t Camp’
  • Longleat Pantomime Dames In Three-Day ‘Boo-t Camp’

A team of apprentice pantomime dames have been put through their paces in a gruelling three-day boot camp at Longleat House.

The Elizabethan stately home has been transformed into a festive fairy-tale world for the Christmas holidays, populated by favourite pantomime characters.

In addition to Aladdin, Buttons, Prince Charming, Peter Pan, Captain Hook, Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk, Snow White, the Wicked Queen, Prince Charming and Cinderella there are also a team of Pantomime dames including Widow Twankey Dame Trott and the Ugly Step Sisters.

To ensure the dames’ performances are as authentic as possible, the Wiltshire attraction has enlisted the help of a pantomime professional to put them through their paces.

Adam Stafford, from Surrey-based SGA Productions, has many years' experience in acting in pantomimes and will soon be appearing as Dame Dorothy Do-It in Beauty and the Beast at the Victoria Theatre in Halifax.

He has also recently starred in 'Chicago', ' Disney's Beauty and the Beast' and 'The Drowsy Chaperone' in the West End.

“As well as rehearsing every character, we also held a Dame make up tutorial. All the men playing the Dames were shown how to apply a variety of Dame make-up styles,” said Adam.

“They were shown techniques for base, eye shadow, lips, cheeks plus the secrets of how to apply fake eyelashes plus wash it all off again.

“We had costume fittings on the first day for all the Dames to make sure they fit into their dresses and knew how to layer up the petticoats and attach the fake boobs!” he added.

The attention to detail was of paramount importance to Longleat Visitor Manager, Ruth Charles, who is in charge of the performances.

“To have the expertise and experience of Adam was invaluable and has really helped give our staff an insight in to their roles,” said Ruth.

“They only started on Friday but the responses we’re getting back from visitors are extremely positive and we’re delighted with how things are going,” she added.

For full details of Christmas at Longleat and to book online click here.

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Giant Christmas Tree Takes Pride of Place in Great Hall

17th November 2012

An eleven-metre-tall Christmas tree with more than 600 baubles and 180 metres of lights has gone on display in Longleat House.

The tree is so large that it took a team of 14 to get it inside and painstakingly move it into position in the Elizabethan Great Hall.

It was then the turn of the house guides to get to work to decorate the tree, which was grown in the Wiltshire estate’s forestry, with specially-constructed scaffolding and extendable bauble-placing poles.

Longleat House Steward, Steve Blyth, said: “It really was something of a military operation to get the tree down here in the first place and then manoeuvre it into the right spot in the Great Hall.

“It’s taken three days in total to finish decorating it but the results are truly spectacular and the reaction from our visitors has been extraordinary.

“As it’s a living tree it gives off a fantastic pine smell which is really helping to get everyone in the festive mood,” he added.

In addition to the giant tree, Longleat House has been transformed into an enchanted world where favourite Pantomime Tales including Jack and the Beanstalk, Peter Pan, Aladdin, Snow White and many more come magically to life.

Visitors can also enjoy the experience of skating on real ice on an outdoor ice rink, take a ride on the Santa Train, meet real reindeer, join the Owls by Moonlight displays and sing along with an even bigger Christmas Tree in the estate’s Stable Yard.

For full details of Christmas at Longleat and to book online click here

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Longleat Welcomes Back the Endura Trek Lionheart Cyclosportive

16th November 2012

Spin Events, in association with Endura and Trek, proudly present the Endura Trek Lionheart 2013.

Roaring into its third year, The Lionheart has worked hard to establish itself as one of the UK’s ‘must do’ cyclosportives. Voted once again as one of the top sportives of 2012 by ‘Cyclosport’ riders; they’re back in the saddle on Sunday March 17th 2013, enjoying the splendour of Longleat Estate as the start and finish location of this event. Both 100 mile and 100 km routes have been altered and tweaked to perfection.

With its undeniably breathtaking, rolling countryside, this is a quiet corner of South West England and both routes certainly exploit this fact. This is characterful cycling terrain and the Lionheart certainly derserves some respect with its quota of testing climbs. Continuing in their quest to offer riders a memorable, ‘value-for-money’ sportive, Spin Events say that riders can expect full mechanical back-up, vehicular support and NEG motorcycle outriders out on course. The well stocked, village hall feed stations will come as a welcome relief, as will the free ‘hotpot’ back at the Event HQ on the lawns of Longleat House. 

With two years of glowing reviews from riders tucked securely under its mane, The Lionheart is a perfect, early season ride, that will really stretch out those winter legs.

Entries for the 2013 Endura Trek Lionheart Cyclosportive will open on Friday 16th November and cost £36.00. 2013 ‘Lionhearters’ can be assured of a challenging and memorable day.

For more information visit the Lionheart Cyclosportive website here

 

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The Festive Season Has Arrived at Longleat!

15th November 2012

 Longleat Safari & Adventure Park’s Christmas Spectacular is set to be even bigger and better this year with more to see and do than ever before.

Running from November 16th until January 7th* Christmas at Longleat brings together all the magic of the festive season in one amazing day out.

Visitors to the award-winning Wiltshire attraction can enjoy the experience of skating on real ice on a huge Outdoor Ice Rink.

There’s a Festive Fayre close by with everything from decorations to fun stocking fillers, winter woollies plus delicious Christmas food and drink

The interior of Longleat’s Elizabethan stately home has been transformed into an enchanted world where favourite Pantomime Tales including Jack and the Beanstalk, Peter Pan, Aladdin, Snow White and many more come magically to life.

A giant Singing Christmas Tree, which has close to one million individual lights and has been specially made for the Wiltshire attraction, forms the centrepiece of Christmas celebrations in the Stable Yard.

Plus there’s the opportunity to hop on board the magical Santa Express to take an unforgettable journey deep into the woods to meet Father Christmas himself in his snowy log cabin home.

New this year is the Owls by Moonlight show which features Longleat’s very own amazing owlery; home to everything from tiny burrowing owls to stunning barn owls and the great grey owl.

As well as watching them in flight in a special illuminated show, there is also be the chance to meet the stars of the show afterwards.

Many of Longleat’s other attractions are also open throughout the festive season. Visitors can embark on the Safari Drive Adventure at Christmas, get up close to the animals in Jungle Kingdom, explore the Adventure Castle and lots more!

For full details of Christmas at Longleat and to book online click here

*Longleat Christmas open dates- Friday to Sunday only: Friday 16th Nov - Sunday 9th Dec. Daily: Friday 14th Dec - Monday 7th Jan (excl. Christmas Day).

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Wild Otters Spotted at Longleat

8th November 2012

Longleat may be best known for it's famous lions and other exotic species, but it’s a rare native animal which is currently causing excitement among keepers.

For the past week, staff at Longleat have been reporting sightings of a wild otter close to a stream which runs through the centre of the estate.

And, despite being renowned as one of the country’s most elusive mammals, Longleat’s Director of Animal Operations, Jon Cracknell, managed to grab some photos of it playing in the water.

“We’d started getting reports earlier in the week that an otter had been sighted and keepers had spotted some footprints and other signs down by the water’s edge,” said Jon.

“However I really didn’t think we’d be able to actually get some photographic proof so quickly. The pictures aren’t great but it was dark and this is such a privilege to see such an elusive native mammal in our very own waterways,” he added.

Keepers are now hoping to set up a series of camera traps alongside the stream in the hope of getting some more images of the otter and to see whether it’s a lone animal or part of a group.

“We spend a lot of time, energy and resources trying to make the entire estate as attractive as possible for a wide range of native species.

“It’s fantastic to know that all that effort is working and hopefully this will encourage more wild otters into the surrounding areas to re-establish a stronghold here on the borders of north east Somerset and Wiltshire,” said Jon.

Historically otters were hunted for their fur which was highly prized, this alongside being hunted for ‘sport’ and to protect fish stocks meant the number of otters across Britain and in Wiltshire and Somerset declined dramatically in the late 1950's and 1960's. Pollution of watercourses through pesticides also had a big impact on otter numbers.

Although populations are now slowly starting to recover, they remain fragmented.

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Brothers Use Gorilla Tactics on Halloween Pumpkins

31st October 2012

 

A trio of gorilla brothers at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park have been amazing keepers with their love of pumpkins in the run up to Halloween.

Keepers suspended a selection of carved pumpkins high up from trees in the gorillas’ enclosure with each one containing a selection of tasty treats.

They then sat back and waited to see how the gorilla brothers Kesho, Alf and Evindi would react.

Longleat’s deputy head keeper, Ian Turner, said:  “We really weren’t sure what sort of reaction we would get from them and there was quite a big chance that they just ignore them entirely.

“However it was fascinating to see how each of the brothers took totally different approaches to investigate these unfamiliar objects,” he said.

Alf, aged nine, ended up leaping off the ground and grabbing food from one of the pumpkins while youngest brother Evindi, six, climbed up the tree and pulled the pumpkin towards him.

However oldest brother and silverback, Kesho, simply yanked the pumpkin off its rope and then found a comfortable nearby spot to enjoy his meal and watch the others at work.

“For each brother to end up using a different strategy was really unexpected,” said Ian.

“All three were actually surprisingly gentle and didn’t just smash the pumpkins to pieces but rather carefully took the food out from inside before then moving on to eating the actual squashes themselves.

“Watching them working out their own approach to the problem and enjoying their rewards really emphasised how closely we are related to each other and gave us all a little insight in to their thought processes,” he added.

All three brothers, who were born at Dublin Zoo, were reunited for the first time earlier this year to form the new bachelor colony at Longleat.

Featuring more than a dozen mature trees in an extensive outdoor grassed area, the spacious gorilla enclosure overlooks Longleat’s Half Mile Lake and utilises natural boundaries wherever possible without the barriers of bars or glass.

In addition to the existing trees, keepers have installed a selection of outdoor climbing logs and frames. The gorillas also share a large indoor shelter with a communal area featuring ropes, swings and climbing apparatus.

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Special Twilight Tickets Announced For Fantastic Fireworks

31st October 2012

Longleat is to mark the official Bonfire Weekend with a night of Fantastic Fireworks’ on Saturday, November 3rd.

Set to classic, animal-themed music, the display is set to be extremely popular and organisers are advising to arrive early. There will also be special guest appearance by Guy Fawkes himself to mark the official Bonfire Night celebrations!

Special Twilight Tickets are available which allow entry after 4.30pm for just £6 per person (Display starts at 6.30pm with last entry into the Estate at 6.15pm).

Longleat’s Simon Cox said: “The fireworks displays are highly popular and we’re asking people to arrive in good time.

“This event has been organised specifically with local people in mind. There will be some pre-display entertainment as well as hot food and drink available and we’d definitely recommend people allow enough time enjoy the show,” he added.

Designed by internationally renowned firework firm Dragonfire, Fantastic Fireworks features a spectacular display set in time to popular music.

Dragonfire is one of the UK’s leading firework display companies committed to producing safe, spectacular and innovative firework entertainment. It is internationally renowned for its displays and special events and has been behind many of the UK’s most prestigious displays in recent years.

An additional Firework display will also be taking place on Friday, November 2nd for day visitors to enjoy. Entry with Day Ticket or Annual Pass only.

For more information and to book any of the events click here or call 01985 844400.

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Haunted Halloween at Longleat

17th October 2012

There’s a host of Halloween-themed thrills and chills taking place at Longleat over the October Half-Term Holidays.

Visitors will be able to enjoy everything from the new ghost train ride and spooky house tours to pumpkin trails, close encounters with giant bats and creepy crawlies and even Halloween-themed fireworks displays.

Prepare to be scared as Longleat celebrates Halloween in style with a ‘Spooktacular Festival’ (Saturday, October 20th – Sunday, November 4th).

Among the grisly goings-on there will be the chance to hop on board the Ghost Train for a fearfully fun foray into the frightful forest!

Listen to tales of terror and intrigue in the spooky surroundings of Longleat House and join one of the Ghoulish Tours in search of mysterious apparitions in the cellars, attics and creepy corridors! 

Witches have taken over the Great Hall of Longleat House and have been brewing up trouble. Also keep an eye out for other creepy costume characters on your way around the park!

Visitors can follow the giant Pumpkin Trail around the attractions and children can get crafty having a go at carving their very own jack ‘o’ lantern.

You can also enjoy a creepily close encounter with Dracula in the infamous Bat Cave. Plus there’s hands-on experiences with a selection of creepy crawlies under the expert supervision of the animal keepers!

Longleat Safari & Adventure Park will also be staging a series of fabulous fireworks extravaganzas!

Fiendish Fireworks (October 26th-27th and November 2nd-3rd) The first weekend features a spine-tingling display to accompany a specially compiled medley of ghoulish and hair-raising tunes. Plus there’s an equally spectacular display set to classic animal themed music to mark the official Bonfire Weekend on 2nd and 3rd November.

For more information and to book any of the events, including the Ghost Tours (limited places remaining) click here

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Longleat Issues Socks Appeal!

15th October 2012

They may not be the top of many people’s festive wish list, but keepers at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park really want socks for Christmas.

And staff at the Wiltshire attraction don’t even mind whether they’re odd or even single socks.

For the winter stockings are destined to be used as cosy sleeping quarters for their colony of chilly chipmunks.

Longleat Keeper Darren Beasley said: “As well as great places to snuggle up inside the chipmunks also use the socks as places to store their food.

“It may be a bit early to be starting to think about Christmas but we’re hoping people will be happy to find an alternative role for all those odd and unworn socks cluttering up their drawers.

“It’s difficult to think of many other uses for odd socks and donating them to our chipmunks would definitely mean they were going to a good home,” he added.

It’s thought that chipmunks get their name from a North American Indian word which literally means ‘head first’ and refers to the method that they use to climb down trees.

Perhaps the most distinctive characteristic of all chipmunks is their pouched cheeks. The pouches are located in the sides of their mouths and are used to store food.

When the pouches are full they can be as large as an entire chipmunk's head. Chipmunks can store large amounts of food in their pouched cheeks.

A chipmunk can carry nine large nuts at a time: four in each cheek pouch and one between its teeth.

One chipmunk was reportedly found with 31 kernels of corn in its cheeks.

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Golden Mo-ments as Olympics Hero Enjoys Family Day Out at Longleat

1st October 2012

  • Mo Farah visits Longleat
  • Mo Farah with Anne the Elephant
  • Mo Farah with a tarantula

Double Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah enjoyed some magical moments on a family day out at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park.

The 29-year-old middle distance sensation enjoyed a special VIP Gold Safari experience at the famous Wiltshire attraction with wife Tania, newborn twins Aisha and Amani and seven-year-old Rihanna.

As part of the tour the family enjoyed close encounters with lions, tigers and cheetahs, fed the giraffes and got hands on with everything from giant tarantulas to parrots and cockatoos.

However Mo was particularly impressed when he had the chance to meet Anne the elephant, who moved to a special sanctuary at Longleat last year.

Posting on Twitter the Olympic star said: “We had a really good time. Me and my family met Anne today, she is 59 years old…..amazing!”

Mo was accompanied on his tour by Longleat’s deputy head keeper, Ian Turner, who drove the family through the Safari Park in their own zebra-striped 4x4 vehicle.

“Mo was brilliant with everyone we met and it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to show him and his family around the park.

“We’ve already named one of our newborn Roan antelope after him and we’re now looking at also naming one of the lion cubs which we recently had born here Mo as well.

“He certainly caused quite a stir among the visitors and there were ‘Mo-bots’ wherever we went!” he added.

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TV Star Ben Fogle Helps Launch Longleat’s Overseas Safaris

26th September 2012

TV presenter and adventurer Ben Fogle was at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park this week to help launch the unique new Overseas Safari trip to Tanzania.

Ben, who filmed BBC’s Animal Park series at Longleat alongside co-presenter Kate Humble, is renowned for his daredevil adventures including rowing the Atlantic Ocean and racing to the South Pole on foot.

Next year he is planning to swim 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean in just 100 days for charity.

Ben has spent a lot of time in Africa; including filming for the series Wild in Africa and Make Me a New Face and he travelled with Prince William and Prince Harry on their first Royal Tour to Botswana.

In addition to his television work, Ben is patron for the African conservation charity Tusk and an ambassador for the UK’s leading family adventure specialist The Adventure Company which has worked with Longleat to develop the Overseas Safari trip to Tanzania.

“It was great to be able to come back to Longleat and renew my friendships with the keepers and the animals,” said Ben.

“Since I was a child I have been fortunate enough to have been surrounded by animals and wildlife and it is something that I am loving having the opportunity to do again with my own children.

“There really is nothing like the experience of going on safari and Longleat’s new overseas safari trips combine fabulous wildlife encounters with the chance to both find out more about, and get directly involved with, vital conservation projects,” he added.

The new adventure safari incorporates a unique mix of dawn game drives by jeep, wildlife spotting on walks as well as safari boat and canoe trips in the beautiful and unique Saadani National Park which backs onto the Indian Ocean.

The 10-day trip will provide the opportunity to spend time with experts who will teach wildlife tracking skills and meet with conservationists in the elephant collaring team, who will also provide a personal insight into ongoing elephant / human land conflict issues.

There will also be the chance to get involved with a conservation programme to help protect the endangered local green turtle populations, before heading to the exotic island of Zanzibar to explore the twisting streets of Old Stone Town.

Prices for this exciting adventure start from just £1,899 per person, including flights, transfers, accommodation, the services of a group leader and safari experts, as well as a selection of meals.

For more information on the Overseas Safaris click here

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International Red Panda Day at Longleat!

14th September 2012

Saturday 15th September is Panda day at Longleat!
Come and see Ajendra our Magnificent Red Panda and help celebrate International Red Panda Day!

For the first time ever keepers at Longleat are inviting everyone to take part in this International day of fun, conservation and activities.
We are giving away free gifts and offering a special few Panda Rangers the amazing opportunity to actually meet Ajay our very own Red Panda.
Keepers will be available to answer questions, discuss conservation issues and raise awareness about these amazing animals.
International Red Panda Day is organised by The Red Panda network www.redpandanetwork.org and aims to protect these endangered animals in the wild.

Contributions received from International Red Panda Day will support the operation of a new community conservation centre in Nepal.
The Red Panda Network Community Conservation Resource Centre is a community initiative located on the route to Pathivara shrine, on the route to Mount Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world.

Keepers in The Longleat Animal Adventure are offering their support to the cause and will challenge any visitor to handle one of their incredible animals such as a Snake, Tarantula or Fantastic Furry creature and then ask them if they have seen our Red Panda?
Anyone agreeing to be a Panda Ambassador and help spread the word about these beautiful animals will receive a very special Animal Adventure photo diploma.

Come and join in the fun at Longleat on Saturday 15th September 2012.

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Longleat Hosts Celebrity Wedding Planner

29th August 2012

Longleat House, Safari & Adventure Park is set to star in an episode of the hit Channel 5 show ‘Celebrity Wedding Planner’ next week (September 3rd).

Longleat was the setting for London couple Kap and Gigi Ling’s special day which was organised by the unlikely pairing of Neighbours veteran Ryan‘Toadfish’ Moloney and former Ramsey Street soap star and comedian Mark Little.

Despite torrential rain, chaotic wedding planners and the unexpected inclusion of an Aboriginal storyteller in to proceedings, the wedding proved to be an unforgettable experience for everyone involved.

“It was certainly nothing like any other wedding we have ever hosted here at Longleat but it was fantastic fun to be involved with and both Ryan and Mark were clearly having a great time,” said Longleat’s Florence Wallace.

“In spite of their ‘unusual’ choice of wedding planners the most important thing is that  Kap and Gigi had an amazing day and we wish them the very best for their future life together.

“Thankfully for all of us I don’t think that either Ryan or Mark are planning to make this a permanent career change!” she added.

Longleat is a highly popular venue for wedding couples. This year, for the first time in its 444-year history, Longleat House itself is also hosting private weddings.

Couples can choose from four unique locations for the ceremony including the grand surroundings of the 16th century Great Hall, the more intimate atmosphere of Lord Bath’s Banqueting Suite, the opulence of the Green Library or the splendour of the ornate Orangery – with its views across the romantic Love Labyrinth rose garden.

Longleat also hosts weddings at its two recently-acquired luxury country hotels; The Bishopstrow House and Spa Hotel in Warminster and Homewood Park Hotel & Spa in Hinton Charterhouse, near Bath.

  • The programme will be broadcast on Channel 5 on Monday 3rd September at 10pm
  • For more information and to download a Weddings’ brochure click here or alternatively call 01985 844328.

 

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Tongan Heir to the Throne Pays Royal Visit to Longleat

28th August 2012

HRH Crown Prince Tupouto’a ‘Ulukalala and HRH Crown Princess Sinaitakala Tuku’aho of the Kingdom of Tonga paid a visit to Longleat House earlier this month as guests of the Marquess of Bath.

Their Royal Highnesses toured the historic rooms of Longleat House and were driven through the world-renowned safari park before attending a luncheon hosted by Lord Bath.

Among other guests present were HSH Princess Marie-Therese von Hohenberg of Austria and her husband HE Mr Anthony Bailey, OBE, GCSS, Delegate for Great Britain and Ireland of the Constantinian Order of St George and HE Dr Sione Ngongo Kioa, High Commissioner of the Kingdom of Tonga to the Court of St James's.

Several members of the Tongan Royal Household, Government and High Commission were also present.

The Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Tonga were visiting Britain for the first time as part of their honeymoon following their recent marriage in the South Pacific member state of the Commonwealth.

Their Royal Highnesses were also leading the official delegation from the Kingdom of Tonga to the 2012 London Olympic Games.

PHOTO (Left to Right) - HE Mr Anthony Bailey, OBE, GCSS, HRH Crown Princess Sinaitakala Tuku'aho of the Kingdom of Tonga, the Marquess of Bath, HRH Crown Prince Tupouto'a 'Ulukalala of the Kingdom of Tonga, HSH Princess Marie-Therese von Hohenberg, Mrs Anthony Bailey

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Joyful Reunion For Gorilla Brothers

16th August 2012

Joyful Reunion For Gorilla Brothers
  • Joyful Reunion For Gorilla Brothers
  • Joyful Reunion For Gorilla Brothers
  • Joyful Reunion For Gorilla Brothers
  • Joyful Reunion For Gorilla Brothers

There were emotional scenes when gorilla brothers who hadn’t seen each other for more than two years were reunited for the first time at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park.

The brothers, who were born at Dublin Zoo, met up again at the spectacular new Gorilla Colony at Longleat.

At around 220 kgs, 13-year-old western lowland silverback gorilla Kesho is a force to be reckoned with and keepers were unsure how he would react to meeting up with his nine-year-old kid brother Alf.

However there was no need to be worried as the brothers acted like they had never been apart.

“The keepers from Dublin weren’t entirely sure the brothers would even know each other, but the moment they met you could just see the recognition in their eyes,” said Longleat keeper Mark Tye.

“We had been slightly concerned how they would react to each other and whether the big brother could put up with little Alf’s playfulness.

“However they have formed a really tight bond in just a few weeks and Kesho is actually incredibly tolerant; allowing both Alf and six-year-old Evindi to jump all over him.

“It’s fantastic for Alf to have an older brother to look up to and learn from and Kesho seems to enjoy being the centre of attention,” he added.

Kesho was moved from Dublin to London Zoo as part of a captive breeding programme and hadn’t seen his siblings since.

Now all three are making a new home at Longleat in their purpose-built new Gorilla Colony alongside a fourth male gorilla called Boulas.

Featuring more than a dozen mature trees in an extensive outdoor grassed area, the spacious new enclosure overlooks Longleat’s Half Mile Lake and utilises natural boundaries wherever possible without the barriers of bars or glass.

In addition to the existing trees, keepers have installed a selection of outdoor climbing logs and frames. The gorillas will also share a large indoor shelter with a communal area featuring ropes, swings and climbing apparatus.

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On a Wing and a Sprayer

10th August 2012

A colony of parrots at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park enjoyed their own version of a power shower this week as a mini-heatwave hit the south west.

Keepers used water spray guns to keep the birds cool as temperatures rose above 80 degrees for the first time in weeks.

As well as giving the birds a welcome cool down during hot weather, the showers are also good for their feathers, which can sometimes get a bit dusty.

Deputy Head Warden, Ian Turner, explained: “There’s no shortage of moisture in the Amazon rainforest where many of the birds come from so this is also a good way of keeping them in great condition.

“Fortunately they also absolutely love the attention and can’t get enough of the sprayer.

“We have to admit that they look pretty bedraggled for a while afterwards but with much feather shaking and the warm weather, they soon smarten up again in time for the visitors,” he added.

Ian Turner is pictured with Mrs Slater, a four-year-old orange winged Amazon parrot.

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Barefaced Beak as Daredevil Ducks Hop on a Hippo!

6th August 2012

At first glance it must have looked like the perfect place for a mallard to do a spot of preening on a lake at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park.

However it appears that this pair of daft ducks may have underestimated the precarious nature of their ‘island’ resting place.

Rather than a rocky outcrop the birds are actually sitting on the back of Spot the hippo – one of the most dangerous animals at Longleat.

At close to 3.5 metres in length and weighing in at around 1.5 tonnes, it’s easy to see how the ducks could have mistaken Spot’s back as a handy haul out.

However neither Spot nor her long-term companion Sonia seems to be overly concerned by the ducks’ presence and keeper Ian Turner thinks they may even enjoy the sensation of webbed feet on their broad backs.

“Spot and Sonia having been living in the lake here at Longleat for the last 35 years, they share it with a group of Californian sea lions and in the past we’ve actually seen some of the young sealion pups jumping on to the hippos’ backs as a sort of game,” said Ian.

“Although they’re both fairly short-tempered they seem to put up with this sort of treatment without too much fuss. It may be that they actually quite enjoy the sensation – perhaps it’s like a back rub or a massage to them,” he added.

Hippos have a semi-aquatic lifestyle and can remain underwater for over five minutes. Out of water, they are fast runners, and if they feel threatened, will race back to the safety of the water.

Their eyes, ears and nostrils are all positioned on top of the head so that they can be almost totally submerged, but still be able to use all of their senses. When diving, they can close their ears and nostrils and they also have webbed toes enabling them to move through the water more efficiently.
In the summer the hippos graze on the grass in their lakeside pasture and on the weed found in the lake. During the winter months their natural diet is supplemented with hay, high fibre cubes and bananas when available.

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Longleat Unveils African Village and Gorila Colony as Part of £7m Summer 2012 Investment

24th July 2012

Longleat Safari & Adventure Park has officially launched two major new features this week as part of a massive £7million summer investment.

Located within the heart of the Safari Park’s East African Game Reserve, the African Village features a new Giraffe Feeding area, a Lemur Walkthrough and a giant baobab tree with aerial walkways, viewing towers and underground tunnels.

Two specially-constructed piers lead visitors out into the heart of the East African Game Reserve for eye-to-eye encounters with five-metre-tall Rothschild’s giraffes and the chance to feed them their vegetarian lunch.

At the same time the world-famous park is also unveiling a state-of-the-art new lakeside Gorilla Colony which is home to a group of four lowland gorillas.

Featuring more than a dozen mature trees in an extensive outdoor grassed area, the spacious new enclosure overlooks Longleat’s Half Mile Lake and utilises natural boundaries wherever possible without the barriers of bars or glass.

Keepers have also installed a selection of outdoor climbing logs and frames and there is a large indoor shelter with communal areas featuring ropes, swings and climbing apparatus.

As part of the opening ceremony Longleat enlisted the help of a team of African dancers from the internationally-renowned Masai Cultural Arts which promotes and educates African culture through African performance and workshops. They are set to wow visitors throughout the summer at the African Village.

Longleat CEO David Bradley said: “Both the African Village and the Gorilla Colony are part of a £7m investment in new attractions at Longleat in 2012 which are designed to provide our visitors with unique, new experiences.

“The African Village provides a great new focal point at the beginning of their safari adventure and offers amazing new up close experiences like giraffe feeding and walking among free-roaming lemurs

“The new gorilla area will allow visitors to enjoy extraordinary encounters with these awesome primates in a near-wild environment free from bars and viewing windows,” he added.

Other new attractions for 2012 include the drive-through Cheetah Kingdom.

For more information on the African Village click here...

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World’s Fastest Cat Meets World’s Smallest Car

17th July 2012

The driver of the world’s smallest car enjoyed a close encounter of the furred kind when he visited the new Cheetah Kingdom at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park.

At just 72 inches long and 51 inches high the newly-released electric Peel Trident bubble car is only slightly larger, and significantly slower, than the world’s speediest big cat.

With a top speed in excess of 70 mph for the cheetah compared to just 31 mph for the bubble car it really wasn’t much of a contest.

And for three-year-old males Casey and Max, the arrival of the strange-looking three-wheeled vehicle in their enclosure proved to be just too interesting to ignore.

Longleat’s deputy head keeper Ian Turner said: “The bubble car was here as part of a photo shoot for the new electric version of the vehicle which first came out in the early Sixties.

“It certainly seemed to catch the attention of both the male cheetahs and they couldn’t resist climbing on board briefly to get a better look.

“Apparently the driver also told us that one of them also started to lick the Perspex bubble clean – which is quite handy as the car only has a manually-operated single windscreen wiper!

“Although it looked dramatic – especially if you happened to be the driver – they really were only being curious and were actually very gentle around the car,” he added.

As part of the photo-shoot the car also spent time in Longleat’s East African Game Reserve where it was dwarfed by the five-metre-tall resident Rothschild’s giraffes.

It also proved to be of particular interest to the safari park’s infamous troop of mischievous macaque monkeys who wasted little time in hopping on board the tiny car to get a better look.

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Longleat Voted UK’s Best Animal or Sea Life Attraction

2nd July 2012

Longleat Safari & Adventure Park has been voted the UK’s best animal or sea life attraction.

The title was won at the 2012 Group Travel Awards which were held at the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel in London on June 15th.

Longleat beat off challenges from Chester Zoo, London Aquarium, Whipsnade Zoo and Woburn Safari Park to claim the top prize, which was presented by travel journalist Simon Calder.

Longleat’s Florence Wallace said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have won this award; particularly as we were up against such strong opposition.

“The award is voted for by people working in the travel trade industry which makes it especially rewarding for us to have been recognised by our peers.

“Over the past 18 months Longleat has embarked on a major and ongoing programme of investment and acquisition to cement our position as the number one Safari and Adventure Park in the UK.

“In addition to acquiring The Bishopstrow House and Spa Hotel in Warminster and Homewood Park Hotel & Spa in Hinton Charterhouse we have invested in a series of major new features and events at Longleat.

“These include Cheetah Kingdom, a new giraffe feeding platform, a major new lakeside gorilla enclosure and a walkthrough lemur exhibit as well as major new events for Easter, Halloween and Christmas.

“We have also put together exciting new initiatives aimed specifically at the groups market including tailor-made tours as well as setting up a dedicated sales team and this award is an indication that we are moving in the right direction,” Florence added.

The Group Travel Awards are voted on by readers of Group Travel Organiser magazine.

Set within 900 acres of ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped grounds and with its unique mix of historic stately home, world famous Safari Park and award-winning family attractions Longleat is one of the UK’s best loved tourist destinations.

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Chris Evans Roars into Longleat for Ferrari Extravaganza

29th June 2012

BBC Radio 2 DJ, Chris Evans roared into Longleat yesterday as part of the ‘Children in Need Drive and Dine extravaganza’.

Chris arrived at the front of Longleat House with his son, Noah and seven lucky couples who had bid for the chance to drive seven Ferraris.

The convoy of cars set off from Chris' home in Berkshire, and stopped off at various locations along the way including Longleat Safari & Adventure Park before winding up at a luxury hotel in the New Forest.

Last November, seven generous souls (and their co-drivers) donated over one and a half million pounds to Children in Need, in exchange for the ride of their lives in seven magnificent Ferraris.

The intrepid travellers set off in convoy from chez Evans driving around some of the most picturesque country lanes in Wiltshire, Berkshire, Hampshire and Dorset.

The third official stop of the day was at Longleat where Chris Evans along with his seven auction-winning drivers parked up outside the front steps of Longleat House for a short picnic and a chance to take in the beauty of the 900-acre estate.

On hand to meet Chris and the Ferraris were some historical costume characters in the form of Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Victoria as well as some Royal Pythons and Nutmeg a Lanner Falcon from Hunters of the Sky as part of an impromptu ‘meet the creatures’ event.

Also mingling amongst the group of cars were two Gorilla characters who were there to help launch the upcoming new Gorilla Colony coming to Longleat this summer.

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Keepers Save Critically Endangered Baby Camel

14th June 2012

A critically endangered baby camel has been saved after keepers at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park stepped in to act as surrogate mothers.

The baby, who is only a month old, is being bottle fed around the clock by keepers who take it in turns to play mum.

Following a difficult birth, the tiny two-humped bactrian camel - named Myrtle by staff - was too weak to stand and feed from mother Bhali.

Despite repeated attempts she simply could not co-ordinate her gangly legs and keepers took the difficult decision to step in.

“Myrtle was simply unable to stand and get to her mum so it was crucial that someone take over the responsibility of looking after her,” said keeper, Julie Scott.

“This meant feeding milk to Myrtle in sterilised bottles every four hours day and night.

“We’re not sure why Bhali rejected her but the fact that Myrtle could not physically get up to feed may have led her mum to think she was too weak to survive,” added Julie.

Despite being rejected by her mum, Myrtle has been adopted by another baby camel born earlier in the year who has taken it upon himself to act as her surrogate brother.

“Malcolm was born almost exactly a month before Myrtle and he has taken on the role of her protective older brother. The pair are pretty much inseparable and he’s definitely looking out for her,” added Julie.

Bactrian camels are critically endangered in the wild and Myrtle and Malcolm are among three babies born in the park this year in addition to the already eight-strong group headed up by Dougie, the breeding bull.

Unlike their cousins the dromedaries, bactrian camels have two humps and are covered in thick fur to protect themselves from the sub-zero temperatures of their Mongolian homeland.

Originally from the Gobi desert, bactrian camels are becoming increasingly endangered in the wild - their main threats being poachers and wolves. However large numbers have been domesticated and are kept by herdsmen in Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and China.

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Anne the Elephant Gets A Jubilee Treat!

3rd June 2012

Anne the elephant is one of very few animals here at Longleat Safari Park who was alive the same year as the Queen's coronation in 1952 and it's a testament to her unquenchable character and energy that she is still with us for the Queen's Jubilee celebrations.

As a special treat to mark the Jubilee, keepers presented Anne with some of her favourite fruits… watermelons! These provided an extra special refreshing treat after the recent hot spell of weather.

Anne's team of keepers have spent huge amounts of time over the past 12 months to improve her overall wellbeing and physical condition. The difference and improvement in the condition of her skin, feet, trunk, ears and general muscle tone is clear to see and she certainly doesn’t look like an elephant in her 60th year!

They work around the clock to ensure Anne is getting the best possible care and, much like the nations Queen has been treated like royalty since her arrival here just over a year ago!

Anne is a very well behaved elephant and her relationship with her keepers is improving with every day. Anne has regular physiotherapy under the guidance of an animal osteopath, we have a new hay barn dedicated to her food storage, she has elephant-sized scratching posts and new feed facilities located within the current facility. She also continues to enjoy her giant sandpit which she loves to flick onto her back and roll around in!

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Monkeys Go Ape Over Jubilee Street Party

29th May 2012

Longleat Safari Park's troop of monkeys have enjoyed their very own unique street party to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

The party, which was laid on as a special one-off treat by their keepers, included cakes, specially-formulated jelly, fruit salads, drinks, bunting, flags, inflatable crowns and Union Jack bowler hats.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the monkeys’ table manners left a lot to be desired and, after spending more than an hour setting up the party, keepers looked on as the famously mischievous macaques took just a few minutes to strip the table bare.

Deputy head warden, Ian Turner, said: “We weren’t surprised by the mayhem. In fact some of the other keepers who have young families said it was no worse than your average children’s party!

“The jelly and cakes proved particularly popular and by the end virtually every tree and log in their enclosure was festooned with bunting and flags, they even managed to grab hold of the Union Jack chairs and drag them up a nearby oak tree.

“As well as being a bit of fun to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee, the street party also provided the monkeys, who are extremely curious, with a selection of novel new items to investigate and explore,” he added.

The monkeys are part of more than 100 rhesus macaques at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park who normally spend their days leaping from car to car, hitching free rides on the thousands of vehicles that pass through their enclosure each day.

Found throughout south east Asia and across the Indian subcontinent rhesus monkeys thrive in a wide variety of habitats and climates.

Rhesus monkeys are extremely intelligent, naturally inquisitive animals which can learn to manipulate simple tools and distinguish colours and shapes.

“We’re delighted that our monkeys have been able to join in the celebrations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Their street party is just one of thousands that will take place over the coming days – I just hope they don’t all end up making quite so much mess!” added Ian.

 

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Big Cats Have Lion’s Share of Bluebell Display

23rd May 2012

Longleat Safari Park's most famous residents are clearly enjoying the recent spell of warm weather which has carpeted their woodland home with a stunning display of native bluebells.

After weeks of wet and chilly weather it looks like summer is finally on its way with thousands of beautiful bluebells flowering in woodland across the state.

And there’s a bumper crop of the delicate wildflowers throughout the lions’ enclosure; much to the apparent pleasure of its resident big cats.

Deputy head keeper, Ian Turner, said: “The lion enclosures are always the best place to see bluebells and it provides a unique treat for our visitors who can enjoy a quintessentially British wildflower scene with the added attraction of a pride of lions.

“Although the warning signs have clearly had no effect whatsoever on the lions we're hoping they will raise a smile among our visitors. Obviously no one would be foolhardy enough to even consider getting out of their cars,” he added.

The majority of native bluebells are found in old and ancient woodlands - sites that have been continuously wooded for at least four centuries. It is thought that more than half the world's bluebell population is found in the UK.

Today the Park is home to twenty-seven lions divided into two separate prides In order to keep them fit and healthy Longleat’s lions are encouraged to ‘hunt’ for their food - keepers will hide meat around their enclosure and also use a mobile meat wagon which the lions have to follow to get their meals.

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Longleat Launches Overseas Safari Trips

8th May 2012

Longleat Safari & Adventure Park has launched its own unique adventure-based overseas safari trips.

It’s the first time a UK safari park has created its very own overseas adventure safari.

Longleat have teamed up with the number one family adventure holiday specialist, The Adventure Company to bring alive this action-packed safari experience in Tanzania.

Designed to appeal to families, the adventure safaris will incorporate a unique mix of dawn game drives by jeep, wildlife spotting on walks as well as safari boat and canoe trips in the Saadani National Park.

The 10-day trip will provide the opportunity to spend time with experts who will teach tracking skills and meet with conservationists in the elephant collaring team, who will also provide a personal insight into ongoing elephant / human land conflict issues. There will also be the chance to get involved with a conservation programme to help protect the endangered local green turtle populations.

Longleat CEO, David Bradley, said: “These once in a lifetime adventures will offer people extraordinary wildlife experiences and also provide them with the unique opportunity to get directly involved with vital local conservation projects.

“For many years our visitors have been able to enjoy a taste of African wildlife here at Longleat in the beautiful English countryside. We’re delighted to now provide a natural extension to this amazing drive-through experience but in the heart of Africa!

“We’re particularly pleased The Adventure Company whose experience, know-how and enthusiasm in creating unforgettable holiday experiences are our partners in this exciting new venture,” he added.

During the safaris, visitors will be able enjoy close encounters with a huge variety of native African wildlife including lion, zebra, giraffe, crocodiles and hippo.

Claire Wilson, Managing Director from The Adventure Company, said: “We have developed this completely new African wildlife trip which builds on a family’s experience in Longleat Safari Park. This trip offers an array of opportunities to spot an abundance of amazing wildlife and also allows children to get an insight into wildlife conservation.”  

The first trip will set off on August 17th 2012, with further dates in October, November and December as well as January and February 2013.

This is the latest stage in an ongoing programme of development and expansion for the Longleat brand which has included the recent acquisition of two hotels and the launch of a series of major new features and attractions.

To find out more on the Overseas Safari trips click here

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Rain Doesn’t Stop Play for Mudlarking Monkeys

26th April 2012

It may appear that summer is still a long way away but the recent downpours have definitely failed to dampen the spirits of the troop of monkeys in the Safari Park.

Far from being put off by the bad weather, the rhesus monkeys have made the most of the recent rainfall and turned the growing puddles into temporary wet play areas.
As well as providing a fun new experience for the younger members of the troop, the puddles have also enabled some of the monkeys to actually see their own reflections – which have clearly fascinated them.

Longleat’s deputy head keeper, Ian Turner, who took the photographs of the monkeys, said: “Watching them jumping about in the puddles and even throwing stones and other objects into the water to see how big a splash they can make has been great.

“It’s obvious they genuinely enjoy themselves, even if the rest of us are finding the rain less entertaining.

“I was particularly interested to observe them watching their own reflections in the water – they seemed to be captivated by their own image and it really brings home how intelligent they are,” he added.

The monkeys are part of more than 100 rhesus macaques in the Safari Park who normally spend their days leaping from car to car, hitching free rides on the thousands of vehicles that pass through their enclosure each day.

Found throughout south east Asia and across the Indian subcontinent rhesus monkeys thrive in a wide variety of habitats and climates.

In some parts of India they are believed to be sacred with the result that they have lived in close contact with humans for countless centuries - particularly in and around Buddhist and Hindu temples.

Rhesus monkeys are extremely intelligent, naturally inquisitive animals which can learn to manipulate simple tools and distinguish colours and shapes.

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Cheetahs Spotted at Longleat

12th April 2012

A coalition of cheetahs has been bringing traffic to a standstill at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park this Easter.

Longleat Safari Park officially opened its brand new drive-through Cheetah Kingdom in the past week and it’s already proving popular with visitors.

The Safari Park is home to a group, or coalition, of seven cheetahs; four males and three females and the public were allowed in to their grassland enclosure for the first time on Saturday.

Depute head keeper Ian Turner said: “The cheetahs have been settling in for the past few months but this was the first time that we had allowed vehicles to drive in amongst them.

“To be honest the cheetahs took the whole experience very much in their stride and were quite happy to come right up to the cars.

“This resulted in some amazingly close encounters for the visitors but did mean that we had difficulty persuading some of the drivers to move on!

“They are amazingly graceful animals and watching them run at speed is astonishing,” he added.

The cheetahs are now the third big cats on display at Longleat alongside their world-famous lion prides and tigers.

Cheetahs are the world’s fastest land animals; capable of top speeds of 71 miles per hour. While running they can cover four strides in a second with each stride measuring up to eight metres.

The name cheetah originates from the Sanskrit word ‘chitraka’ which means ‘variegated’ or ‘sprinkled’ body.

In the wild cheetahs can chase and kill much larger game including antelopes and even zebras as well as smaller animals like hares and rodents.

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Mad Hatter Joins in the Easter Fun at Longleat

4th April 2012

Longleat’s historic Great Hall has played host to some truly spectacular events in its 500-year history.

However it’s unlikely to have ever witnessed anything quite like the mayhem of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

The madcap milliner has taken up residence in Longleat House for the Easter holidays (daily until April 9th) and his eccentric entertaining is providing visitors with an added attraction.

The Mad Hatter is just part of an Alice In Wonderland-themed series of special Easter events and activities taking place at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park.

Alice in Wonderland at Longleat is taking place daily until April 9th. All Easter activities are free with the All in One Day Ticket or Annual Pass

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Anne the Elephant…One Year On

3rd April 2012

We are delighted to announce that Anne the elephant today celebrated her first anniversary living at Longleat Safari Park. Since her arrival on 3rd April 2011 she has had a new lease of life and continues to enjoy her retirement under the care and supervision of her experienced keepers and dedicated team of experts. Her keepers and everyone at Longleat are extremely grateful for the public support and messages of goodwill Anne has received over the past year.

Her keepers have spent huge amounts of time over the past twelve months working with Anne to improve her wellbeing and physical condition. The difference and improvement in skin condition, feet, trunk, ears and general muscle tone is clear to see and she certainly doesn’t look like an elephant approaching 60.

Take a look at the latest images of Anne enjoying her sandy play area and the photo comparisions from when she arrived through to 2012.

 

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QUEEN OF HEARTS ORDERS PLAYING CARDS TO PAINT LONGLEAT ROSES

30th March 2012

A pack of playing cards has been enlisted to put the finishing touches to a new Alice in Wonderland-themed Easter event at Longleat.

The playing cards, under the expert supervision of the Queen of Hearts, have been hard at work painting the roses in the Wiltshire attraction’s Love Labyrinth and taking part in a crazy game of Wonderland Croquet.

The playing cards are from the world-renowned, Bath-based Natural Theatre Company and will be joined by Longleat’s very own Queen of Hearts at Longleat during the Easter period.

Their efforts are part of a series of egg-citing Easter events and activities based around Alice in Wonderland which runs during the Easter holidays (March 31st – April 9th).

Alice and the Mad Hatter invite guests to attend the craziest Tea Party ever in the spectacular surroundings of the Great Hall of Longleat House and there’s the opportunity to go through the looking glass and search for Alice’s Golden Crown in the Mirror Maze.

There will be the chance to hop on the Easter Eggspress to discover the White Rabbit as he rushes through the woods to meet the Duchess, and help Humpty Dumpty track down his lost giant eggs in an egg-centric Easter Trail.

• Alice in Wonderland at Longleat will be taking place daily from March 31st – April 9th. All Easter activities are free with the All in One Day Ticket or Annual Pass. For more information click here

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EGGS ON LEGS!

27th March 2012

 

Gardeners at Longleat literally had egg on their faces as they helped put the finishing touches to a giant Easter Egg Hunt this week.

Staff on the estate have employed a unique way to transport a series of massive, hand-painted eggs to their final destinations around the park.

Each of the eight eggs has been themed to represent a different aspect of Longleat and younger visitors will have to track them down and discover a special code to complete the Easter trail.

“It certainly took visitors by surprise when they spotted these giant eggs walking around the estate on legs,” said Longleat’s Steve Mytton.

“What made it even more amusing was the fact that the gardeners found it very difficult to see where they were going so tended to follow each other in a long line!” he added.

The eggs are part of an exciting Easter event based around Alice in Wonderland which runs during the Easter holidays (March 31st – April 9th).

There will be the chance to hop on the Easter Eggspress to discover the White Rabbit as he rushes through the woods to meet the Duchess, and help Humpty Dumpty track down his lost giant eggs in an egg-centric Easter Trail.

Alice and the Mad Hatter invite guests to attend the craziest Tea Party ever in the spectacular surroundings of the Great Hall of Longleat House and there’s the opportunity to go through the Looking Glass and search for Alice’s Golden Crown in the Mirror Maze.

• Alice in Wonderland at Longleat will be taking place daily from March 31st – April 9th. All Easter activities are free with the All in One Day Ticket or Annual Pass. 

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Visitors Witness Rare Baby Giant Anteater Birth

27th March 2012

Visitors to Longleat Safari & Adventure Park had an unexpected surprise when they witnessed the arrival of a rare baby giant anteater.

‘Choccy’, as he’s been nicknamed by keepers, made his unscheduled appearance just before midday in front of a stunned audience of onlookers.

The tiny anteater’s arrival is particularly welcome as the species is officially listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

“It’s extremely rare to actually witness the birth of a giant anteater so those visitors were very lucky indeed – I’m actually quite jealous!” said keeper Catriona Carr.

“We knew that mum Maroni was pregnant but we weren’t 100% certain when the baby was due so when we got the news she had given birth we were both delighted and a little bit nervous.

“To have a successful birth with our anteaters is fantastic. It’s especially good to see mum and Choccy showing all the usual signs of a mother and baby relationship in the early stages.

“For the first six months Maroni will carry Choccy on her back virtually all the time. The baby takes milk by moving around underneath mum and only very rarely lets go.

“The baby aligns itself to the pattern on mum’s back to provide camouflage from any predators who might prey on the young. It’s so effective that it’s almost as if the baby become invisible,” she added.

Mum Maroni, who was born in France, and German dad Bonito arrived at Longleat two years ago as are part of a co-ordinated European Breeding Programme for the species.

Giant Anteaters originate from South America and can be found in tropical and deciduous forests.

As its name suggests the giant anteater is the largest of the anteater family and can grow to over two metres in length with tongues that extend to more than 60cm.

Their long nose, tongue and sharp claws enable them to get to into ant and termite mounds, eating over 30,000 insects in a single day!

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Mugs Make Snug Fit For Tiny Tea T’Owls

21st March 2012

A pair of tiny hand-reared baby burrowing owls have taken to using teacups to roost in during the day.

The owlets, nicknamed Linford and Christie as they were born in the year of the London Olympics, are being cared for by keeper Jimmy Robinson.

They will form part of the new birds of prey displays at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park as part of their Hunters of the Sky attraction.

Linford and Christie were both hatched in an incubator and have had to be hand reared by Jimmy.

“Basically I have had to have them with me 24 hours a day every day and that means taking them home with me in the evening and getting up in the middle of the night to feed them,” he said.

Found throughout the Americas, the burrowing owl is so named because it lives in underground burrows that have been dug out by small mammals such as prairie dogs and ground squirrels. Unlike most owls they are active during the day.

“As I spend so much time with them they do look at me as their surrogate mum and will follow me around the house or sit on my shoulder.

“They also enjoy the security of sitting inside their teacups and like to find small spaces on my bookshelf and in between my DVD collection to snuggle up into.

The owls were hatched at the Hawk Conservancy Trust in Andover back in February and are now just over six weeks old.

“Although they are small birds they do grow incredibly quickly. These guys will be fully fledge within the next month, their feathers are coming through nicely and they are already getting used to flapping their wings,” added Jimmy.

Linford and Christie will join a variety of birds of prey including vultures, eagles, hawks, kites, owls and falcons in the Hunters of the Sky attraction at Longleat.

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‘Extinct’ Antelope Born At Longleat

19th March 2012

An ‘extinct’ antelope whose extraordinary horns may have been the origin of the unicorn myth has bred successfully at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park.

The female scimitar horned oryx calf, named Mesta, was born on February 21st to mum Raira after a nine-month pregnancy and both are doing extremely well.

Originally from North Africa, the antelope is thought to have gone extinct in the wild in 1999 – due to a combination of hunting and loss of habitat.

The Wiltshire Safari Park is part of an international captive breeding programme for the species with numbers worldwide now thought to be in excess of 1,500.

Re-introduction programmes are currently taking place in Tunisia, Morocco and Senegal with captive-bred animals being released into fenced reserves.

The scimitar horned oryx gets its name from its magnificent, scimitar-shaped horn which can measure up to 1.5 metres in length.

Longleat’s Ian Turner said: “The scimitar horned oryx is one of the most iconic types of antelope with these truly magnificent curved horns which are actually quite thin  and break off comparatively easily.

“Our captive breeding programme has been extremely successful over the years and this is Raira’s fourth calf. If all goes according to plan the calf should be fully weaned around 14 weeks after being born.

Some experts believe oryx may be the basis for the legendary unicorn. View from the side it can look like the antelope have only a single horn.

As the horns are made from hollow bone they can also break off quite easily and do not grow back – making one horned oryx a relatively common occurrence.

Ancient Greeks including Aristotle and Pliny the Elder both thought the oryx was the ‘prototype’ for the unicorn myth.

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Anne the Elephant - Latest Update: March

13th March 2012

The sun has started to shine again and Anne the elephant is certainly enjoying it as she plays in a new pile of sand!

Anne's keepers have weighed her and she is now a healthy muscular 3820kg. Her osteopath has also been out again and is overjoyed at her progress.

Looking at old photo's of Anne, the difference in her muscle tone and her conformation is wonderful. 

Now the ground around Anne's outdoor area is beginning to dry out in the spring sunshine, work on a new grass paddock will also hopefully start soon.

 

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Love Sick As A Parrot

14th February 2012

Love Sick As A Parrot
  • Love Sick As A Parrot
  • Love Sick As A Parrot
  • Love Sick As A Parrot

He may be a pretty boy but Spike the parrot is ruffling a few feathers at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park after apparently falling beak over claws in love with his keeper.

The love-sick African grey parrot is so infatuated he has taken to following keeper Gemma Short around all day and refusing to leave her side.

The bond between the pair is now so deep that Gemma, 26, who got married last year, says she won’t be able to go on holiday again without Spike.

“I went on my honeymoon last year and realistically that’s probably going to be the last time I will be able to go away for any length of time for the foreseeable future,” said Gemma.

“I wouldn’t be happy to leave Spike on his own for more than a day or so and I know how sulky he gets if I’m not around,” she added.

Parrots are highly intelligent birds and African greys in particular are noted for their personalities and the deep attachments they develop with their owners.

The fact that they can also live for up to 70 years makes them a real long-term commitment.

Spike, who is also aged 26, was given to Longleat more than 15 years ago by his owner after he decided he could no longer look after him. Gemma has been in charge of looking after him for the last two years.

“Pretty much as soon as I was introduced to him for the first time it was obvious that he liked me. He’s quite shy around other people but he really comes alive when he’s with me,” she added.

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Photos by BNPS

Longleat Opening Dates 2012:

Daily: Friday 9th March – Sunday 4th November

Tall Order as Maze Takes High-Tech Approach To Hedge Trimming

2nd February 2012

Gardeners at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park have come up with a novel new way to dramatically speed up cutting their world-famous hedge maze – by using stilts.

The maze has undergone a final cut prior to re-opening to the public for the start of the new season on February 11th.

Made up of more than 16,000 English yew trees, with 2.8kms of pathways and covering an area of 0.6 hectares, the Longleat hedge maze is one of the largest in the world.

With an average height of two metres, gardeners previously had to use scaffolding to reach the top and it took a team of up to five people more than a week to complete.

However, since the introduction of the stilts, two staff are now able to finish the task in less than half the time.

Paul Thompson, Longleat’s Deputy Grounds Manager, said: “Previously we used an 'H'-frame scaffold tower with a platform on it. We would normally cut two to three metres of hedge using this technique before having to get down and move the tower each time.

“All the gardeners are fully trained and we have had to do a series of specific risk assessments for using the stilts but it makes what was once a long, rather boring job, a lot more fun and much less energy-sapping,” he added.

The pre-season cut is only for the top of the hedges while the sides will normally be trimmed prior to main summer season.

The Maze was commissioned by Lord Bath and designed by Greg Bright. It was laid out in 1975 and is planted entirely of English Yew (Taxus baccata). The maze is three dimensional in that there are six bridges built from timber for visitors to navigate.

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Anne the Elephant Latest Update: December

28th December 2011

As well as recent improvements to Anne's main paddock by adding 200 tonnes of sand Anne has obviously been a good girl this year as Santa delivered a nice new shiny 'hopefully' indestructable ball.

This has been recieved with great excitement  from the old girl as you can see from the photos. Unfortunately this has put her keepers back in their work as the temptation to watch her enjoy playing with her new ball is overwhelming!

Her keepers, Andy, Ryan and Ross have been inundated with thank you and good will messages for Anne this year and would like to thank everyone for their support for looking after an incredible individual such as Anne. They will continue working hard next year to ensure Anne gets the best possible care and enjoys her retirement at Longleat

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Jamie Theakson and Emma Bunton Join in the Christmas Fun at Longleat

16th December 2011

Jamie Theakston and Emma Bunton from London’s Heart Breakfast will be broadcasting their London show live from Longleat on Friday 16th December, as they embark on their search for Santa!

They're here to get all Christmassy and see the Singing Christmas Tree, Fairytale Characters in Longleat House and even meet Santa!

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Mini-Monkeys Dive into Christmas Stockings!

15th December 2011

A colony of marmoset monkeys at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park are getting in to the festive spirit with their very own Christmas Stockings.

The ten-strong group of miniature South American primates woke one morning to find their open enclosure bedecked with Christmas decorations.

Naturally inquisitive, it didn’t take dominant male Campo and female Corumba long to pluck up enough courage to see what gifts were inside the stockings.

“We put a variety of tasty treats inside the stocking including nuts, bugs and pieces of fruit first thing in the morning and then hang them around their enclosure for them to find,” said Keeper Darren Beasley.

"As well as adding a festive feel to Monkey Temple the stockings also enable us to stimulate the marmosets natural foraging behaviour,” he added.

Common marmosets live in social family groups and have a strict hierarchy ranking. Young and old adults share in the care of the young, unusually for primates the female nearly always gives birth to non-identical twins which the male then carries on his back.

It’s not just the monkeys who are benefiting from the goodwill though as keepers are providing treats for all the other animals too including porridge for the parrots and hot potatoes for the rhesus monkeys.

The Christmas animal treats are part of a series of special activities taking place at the Wiltshire attraction in the coming weeks.

This year is the first time that Longleat Safari & Adventure Park has been open throughout the festive season.

Running until January 2nd ‘Christmas at Longleat’ features a real Ice Rink set against the backdrop of Longleat House, the UK’s largest Singing Christmas Tree, Santa Trains and Christmas-themed House Tours with Cinderella, Ebenezer Scrooge, Sleeping Beauty and other fairytale characters.



 

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Fairy Tale Characters Take to the Ice at Longleat

30th November 2011

 

Visitors to Longleat Safari & Adventure Park were treated to the unusual sight of Scrooge, Cinderella and Prince Charming taking to the ice.

The fairytale and festive characters are all part of the Christmas Extravaganza event which has been officially launched at Longleat.

Cinderella, Scrooge, Prince Charming and the Fairy Godmother all ventured onto a giant ice rink in front of Longleat House to mark the start of the festive season.

Inside the Elizabethan stately home has been transformed into an enchanted world where favourite fairy-tales and festive stories like ‘A Christmas Carol’ have been brought to life.

Longleat’s Ruth Charles said: “It did take a bit of persuading but in the end they all agreed to go onto the ice, although Scrooge had to be pushed around on a children’s seal skating aid!

“It certainly made quite an impact on the visitors who couldn’t quite believe their eyes,” he added.

Longleat is also playing host to Britain’s biggest singing Christmas Tree. The giant festive tree – which has close to one million individual lights - is the only one of its kind in Britain and has been specially made for the Wiltshire attraction as part of their Christmas celebrations.

It’s the first time the award-winning attraction has opened its doors to visitors over the festive season.

Many of Longleat’s other attractions will also be open throughout the Christmas holidays. Visitors will be able to go on a Safari Drive Adventure, get up close to the animals in Jungle Kingdom and explore the Adventure Castle.

For more information on Christmas please click here...

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Anne the Elephant - Latest Update: November

28th November 2011

 

Anne the elephant has had another couple of visits from her osteopath over the past month who is very happy with her progress since arriving at Longleat earlier in the year. Her muscle tone is much improved and getting better all the time.

Lots of work is being done on Anne’s feet still, and even her keepers are now in need of an osteopath!

Anne’s outdoor area has been resurfaced with 200 tonnes of sand having been put down which will provide her with a softer surface for her to walk on. Keepers have also put up another tree trunk in there, which she is taking great delight in trying to knock over with a small amount of success.

The plans for her grass paddock have been finalised and work is very advanced on the fabrication of this, so hopefully this will be getting put up very soon. Also the steel work is moving on for her new shelter in her yard.

As always everyone concerned with Anne’s welfare at Longleat are working continually to ensure she gets the best possible care.

For more information on Anne and how she arrived at Longleat please click here…

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Santa Puts Finishing Touches To Britain’s Biggest Singing Christmas Tree

23rd November 2011

 Santa Puts Finishing Touches to Longleat's Singing Christmas Tree

Britain’s biggest singing Christmas Tree has gone on display at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park in Wiltshire.

The tree is so big that even Father Christmas had to enlist the help of a cherry picker to put on the final giant bauble in preparation for its first show.

The giant festive tree is the only one of its kind in Britain and has been specially made for the Wiltshire attraction as part of their Christmas celebrations.

At more than 50 foot tall it was so large that it had to be transported in 18 sections and assembled on site by a team of 15 workmen.

Almost one million multi-coloured lights make up the singing tree, which change colour and create spectacular patterns of light in time with traditional Christmas music and carols.

The tree has more than six miles of lighting cable, 216 twinkling star flashes, over 3,000 bauble decorations and 24 huge snowflakes with a giant illuminated star on top.

Longleat’s Steve Mytton said: “It's been an incredible job. It took six months to develop and build and four days for the guys to put it together on site.

“With so many lights, so much cable and decorations to check it has been a massive undertaking but to see the tree finally in place and working is amazing.”“

Running from November 18th until January 2nd ‘Christmas at Longleat’ brings together the magic of the festive season in a spectacular new event.

Visitors will have the chance to enjoy the experience of skating on real ice on a huge outdoor ice rink in front of Longleat House, watch favourite fairy-tale characters come to life in the enchanted surroundings of Longleat House as well as the giant singing Christmas tree which dances in time to festive tunes.

Plus there's the opportunity to take an unforgettable train journey deep into the woods to meet Santa Claus himself in his snowy log cabin home.

 

For more information on Christmas at Longleat and for opening dates and times please click here

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McFly Bring Added Sparkle to Longleat Fireworks

9th November 2011

 

 

Top British pop rock band McFly were on hand to officially launch the Fireworks Extravaganza at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park last Friday (4th November).

The boys spent the day at Longleat experiencing the attractions which included tours through new attractions Jungle Kingdom, Monkey Temple and Animal Adventure.

Band members Danny Jones, Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter were all on hand to meet a variety of the park’s residents and were certainly not shy when handling Snakes, Spiders and other creepy crawlies!

A VIP Tour of the Safari Park followed where they were lucky enough to see some of the lion cubs recently born before going on a Ghost Tour of Longleat House.

McFly were without drummer Harry Judd who was on dance rehearsals as he is currently starring in this year's Strictly Come Dancing.

They finished the day by meeting fans who had turned up to see them at the fireworks before giving a countdown to get the display underway for the many spectators who had turned up.

Longleat's Steve Mytton said “It was great to have the boys down here to start the fireworks and also for them to see the great attractions we have to offer here. I don’t think they expected to be getting so close to some of our animals!”

“It’s the first time we’ve had a dedicated fireworks display at Longleat and the addition of Mcfly coming to help start them really was an added treat for visitors who were here for the performance. It was great to see the band meeting and spending time with fans before the display got started too”

Although the fireworks brought an end to the main open season at Longleat it will soon be the venue for a Christmas Spectacular for the first time ever. Running from November 18th until January 2nd Christmas at Longleat brings together the magic of the festive season in a spectacular new event.

Visitors will have the chance to enjoy the experience of skating on real ice on a huge outdoor ice rink in front of Longleat House, watch favourite fairy-tale characters come to life in the enchanted surroundings of Longleat House and marvel at the giant musical Christmas tree with hundreds of lights dancing in time to festive tunes.

Plus there's the opportunity to take an unforgettable train journey deep into the woods to meet Santa Claus himself in his snowy log cabin home.

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McFly Set to Make A Bang at Longleat Fireworks Show

2nd November 2011

McFly start Fireworks at Longleat on 4th November

Top British pop rock band McFly are to officially launch the Fireworks Extravaganza at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park on Friday, November 4th.

The boys will be spending the day at Longleat before setting off the fireworks from an open-top bus at a special evening display which starts at 6.30pm.

Although they won’t be performing, the band are planning to enjoy some hands-on animal encounters with a variety of creepy crawlies and also want to meet up with Longleat’s resident family of meerkats in their walkthrough enclosure.

Danny Jones, Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter will be without drummer Harry Judd who is currently starring in this year’s Strictly Come Dancing.

Longleat’s Melissa Burns said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have the boys from McFly here to spend the day with us and it’s already caused quite a stir among our staff.

“For them to be on hand to officially set off our fireworks show in the evening will make it a really special event for everyone,” she added. 

Designed by internationally renowned pyrotechnic firm Dragonfire, Fireworks Go Wild (November 4th-5th) features a spectacular fireworks display set to classic animal-related music to mark the official Bonfire Night celebrations and, on November 5th itself, there will also be a real bonfire for visitors to enjoy.

Special Twilight Tickets are available for the November displays which allow entry to Longleat after 4pm for just £5 per person (Nov 4th display starts at 6.30pm, Nov 5th display starts at 6pm).

Dragonfire is one of the UK’s leading firework and pyrotechnic display companies committed to producing safe, spectacular and innovative firework entertainment. It is internationally renowned for its displays and special events and has been behind many of the UK’s most prestigious displays in recent years.

For more information on the fireworks or to book please click here

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