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Knowsley Safari Park

Telephone 0151 430 9009
How to Find it: From M62 exit at junction 6, then take M57 exit at junction 2. At the roundabout follow the brown safari signs.
Open: Knowsley Safari Park is open all year round (except Christmas Day). If the weather is very icy or snowy we are closed for safety reasons. Summer Opening Times: 1st March to 31st Oct. 10.00am Last entry to Safari Drive 4.00pm Winter Opening Times: 1st November to 28th February 10.30am Last entry to Safari Drive 3.00pm
Prices: Adults £12.00. Children/O.A.P.s £9.00 Family ticket (2 adults & 2 children/O.A.P.s) £37.00 Pedestrians £7.00 per person
No of Species No of Animals Star Rating
Mammals 19 227 Conservation
Birds Enclosures
Reptiles Education
Amphibians Recreation
Fish Research
Total 19 227
Click here for a Link to the Zoo’s own Web Pages
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This critique last updated:  Dec 2010

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GoodZoos.com Reviews

Wild animals are nothing new to Knowsley. Over a hundred and fifty years ago Edward Lord Stanley, the thirteenth Earl of Derby kept a huge private zoo here — one of the largest in the world at the time. It covered almost 100 acres of Knowsley estate and it included 94 species of mammals and 318 species of birds, which even today would make it the largest bird collection in Britain, and the third largest mammal collection (after London and Chester). Lord Derby was an avid collector of animals, and a President of the Zoological Society. He employed agents all over the world to send him new animals, and his estate must have been a fascinating one to visit — matched only perhaps by the Duke of Bedford’s collection at Woburn, and the fledgling zoos at Regent’s Park and Clifton (now Bristol Zoo). A regular visitor was the landscape artist Edward Lear, and in the 1830s he stayed at Knowsley for five years, painting many of the animals in the menagerie. The animals may have provided literary inspiration too, for it was here that Lear entertained the thirteenth Earl’s grandchildren with nonsense verses and limericks, later to be published as ‘The Book of Nonsense’ for which Lear is now best remembered.

In comparison to the thirteenth Earl’s incredible zoo, today’s safari park is a much more modest affair with no more than 22 different mammal species on display, and no birds at all (but for a few pheasants and wildfowl). It was the eighteenth Earl who made the decision to bring animals back to Knowsley, and when the safari park opened in 1971 it was the fifth to be opened in Britain in five years, and the fourth to benefit from the close involvement of Jimmy Chipperfield, who partnered Lord Derby in the enterprise. The three and a half mile original route has been extended to five miles, but despite the fact that the road snakes languidly back and forth, the rolling nature of the landscape here creates the impression of a longer and more varied journey than many similar parks. Even without the animals it would be an interesting drive — past swampy waterfowl ponds, through shady oak woodlands, up onto the windy grassland, down past White Man’s Lake. The animals look well here. There are tigers (in separate zoo-style cages), a splendid pride of lions, magnificent baboons, a proud herd of Père David’s deer, and groups of zebra, gnus, guanacos (wild llamas), bison, camels, and eland. There is also a quartet of handsome white rhino (which have bred here), and four African elephant. The elephants have a large area to graze, and are kept safely away from cars by an electric fence. Here there are also expanding herds of lechwe, black- bock and African buffalo, and the park will soon add scimitar-horned oryx to that list.

In addition to the drive round park there is a very good children’s zoo, for which an extra admission charge is made, but where children can feed and stroke farmyard animals. Extra tickets also have to be bought for the small reptile house, which has a few impressively large snakes, and for the sealion show which takes place in the old dolphinarium. There is also a fairground, and a train ride out along the lake.

Knowsley is hardly the great innovator it once was, nor is it a critical conservation resource; but for countless families in and around Merseyside it is the closest and best place to come face to face with some magnificent wild animals in an impressively realistic setting. Edward Lear, seeing all these ‘Beasticles, Birdlings and Boys’, would surely have approved.


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