The UK’s no. 1 Safari Park first opened its gates to the public in April 1966; the first of its kind outside Africa. It was the beginning of a revolution in zoological collections that has spread all over the globe.
For the very first time, animals were able to move freely across hundreds of acres of land and interact naturally with each other.
Today it is difficult to imagine the furore aroused when Longleat’s plans for an initial 100-acre lion reserve were made public. There were dire warnings of big cats running amok in the Wiltshire countryside, local clergymen were up in arms, and there were even questions asked in the Houses of Parliament.
In spite of these fears, the ground-breaking concept of the drive through safari park proved a hugely popular draw for visitors. Over forty years on, Longleat Safari Park remains one of the country’s leading wildlife attractions.
Over the years Longleat has grown to incorporate a whole range of fun-packed family attractions, including Jungle Kingdom, where visitors can get right up close to animals such as meerkats, anteaters, porcupine. Other highlights include the Adventure Castle – an amazing kid’s adventure playground and castle, the Longleat Hedge Maze – one of the world’s longest labyrinths, and new attractions including the Rockin Rhino ride, Penguin Island and Ray Bay.
Set within 900 acres of Capability Brown landscaped grounds, Longleat House is widely regarded as one of the best examples of high Elizabethan architecture in Britain and one of the most beautiful stately homes open to the public.
Built by Sir John Thynne from 1568 and visited by Elizabeth I in 1574, Longleat House is the home of the 7th Marquess of Bath, Alexander Thynn. It was the first stately home to open to the public on a fully commercial basis back on 1st April 1949.