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Blair Drummond Safari Park

Address Nr Stirling,
Telephone 01786 841456
How to Find it: Seven Miles Norh of Stirling on the A84 and from Exit 10 on the M9.
Open: From mid-March until October from 10am.
Area: 48 hectares /119 acres
No of Species No of Animals Star Rating
Mammals 23 161 Conservation
Birds 4 47 Enclosures
Reptiles Education
Amphibians Recreation
Fish Research
Total 27 208
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This critique last updated:  Nov 2010

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GoodZoos.com Reviews

Blair Drummond Safari and Leisure Park, once known as Scotland’s Safari Park, was opened on the estate of Sir John and Lady Muir, near Stirling in 1970. It was the first attempt to bring the safari park concept of Africa and Asian animals to Scotland, and like several of its English forebear considerable use was made of the expertise and the animals of Jimmy Chipperfield. The park is well signposted off the A84 Stirling to Dow road, and it occupies around 120 acres of fairly flat green pastureland overlooked by the fairy tale turrets of Blair Drummond House.

Like most safari parks, the visitor drives a tortuous winding cowl through a succession of fenced paddocks, within which a whole variety of species roam relatively freely. At Blair Drummond the roads wind almost too often, as if the designers have tried too hard to compensate for a rather smaller overall area, compared to say, Woburn, Longleat, or Knowsley. To add to the confusion, the route into the safari park itself takes you right around the perimeter of the park so that you do see something of a preview of what awaits you, before you even enter the first enclosure.

Nevertheless, once inside, there is a fair mix of species to be observed The first animals you may see are the African elephants in a spectacular new elephant house that opened in 1992, and which allows access to visitors if the elephants are not outside. The elephants have a large outdoor paddock, a huge pool which holds 55,000 gallons of water, and a sand pit with 800tons of sand. You may see them sliding down the muddy hillside with their back legs outstretched behind them, an activity which zoo director Angela Rennick describes as ‘their favourite game’. The clay mud keeps their skins in good condition. The elephants, like several others in British zoos, are rescued youngsters from the culling programme in Zimbabwe. The park now has room to keep six, and at the time of writing there are three, two cows and a young bull. Since the decisions of Edinburgh and Glasgow Zoos to close their elephant houses, these three are the only resident elephants in Scotland.

The first paddock holds a rather curious combination, including sika deer (from Japan), eland and lechwe (from Africa), Pere David’s deer (from China), bactrian camels and yaks (from Asia) and Emus (from Australia). Despite their diverse origins however, the group seem to blend together in a quite satisfactory way. The monkeys are rhesus macaques, a more popular choice for monkey jungles than baboons. They will climb on your car, carrying babies in their arms, and are bound to make the trip through this part of the park the most entertaining of the tour.

The lion area is fairly large, and there is now an elevated walkway where visitors can look down upon the lions. The pride is only small (six lions at the time of writing), but perhaps this demonstrates sensible management of a species whose numbers can rapidly expand in safari park conditions. There are several young Siberian tigers in a separate enclosure. These originate from John Aspinall’s collection, and perhaps they are an indication that Blair Drummond is beginning to take an interest in conservation-sensitive species.

The final paddock holds American bison, fallow deer, zebras, and dromedary camels —another geographic mix. But the visit is not yet over because now is the time to leave the car for the sealion show, to see the Humboldt’s and black foot penguins in a large new pool, meerkats in a well appointed enclosure, ring tailed lemurs, otters, and capuchin monkeys, all within the children’s zoo area. There is also a walk-through area with ponies, donkeys, goats, llamas, wallabies, and rheas, among other favourites. Finally, once the rides and amusements are exhausted, there is the opportunity to take a boat ride out along a waterway to the chimp island where Blair Drummond has been proud to see mother-reared chimps. The island is spacious, and new climbing features have recently been added to enrich the environment.

Altogether Blair Drummond is a well appointed and attractive day out. Children will enjoy the monkeys and of course the funfair and meanwhile the park is slowly establishing itself as a responsible animal collection.


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