Knowsley Safari Park
If you want to see endless exotic animals without even having to leave the comfort of your car, then Knowsley Safari Park in Merseyside is for you. Opened in July 1971 on the Knowsley Estate, the reserve is home to elephants, giraffes, lions, tigers, baboons, African wild dogs, Egyptian fruit bats, emus, kookaburras, owls, giant African millepedes, poison dart frogs, Iberian wolves, buffalos, deer and much more.
The estate dates back to 1385 and Knowsley Hall has been the home of the Stanley family, the Earls of Derby, ever since. The illustrious ancestors of the present incumbent include the 14th Earl, who was Prime Minister three times, and the 17th Earl, who helped negotiate the Treaty of Versailles. The gardens and parkland, which include the zoo, were designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown in the 1770s. Their connection with wildlife goes back to the 13th Earl, born in 1775, who took a great interest in natural history and set up a renowned aviary and menagerie in the park.
Visitors normally drive around the park in their own cars, with a bypass route past the baboon enclosure for people who don't want to risk damage to their car! But there are plenty of reasons to get out and stretch your legs in the walkaround area. There you can hear talks by keepers, enjoy the fairground rides, go on a bug walk or test your bravery on the aerial obstacle course. This features more than 60 obstacles, from zip wires and mid-air jumps to climbing walls. You can also watch the daily sea lion show, where you’ll not only learn all about these hugely clever animals but see their skills in action as they jump, catch rings, balance balls on their noses and more. At the birds of prey centre, home to eagles, hawks, falcons, vultures, kites and owls, you can watch the birds being fed and see flying displays.
The zoo runs a variety of activities for children and schools, and offers a range of experiences, from helping to feed meerkats to joining the team who look after the big cats for a few hours.
If you’re thinking of booking one of our hotels near Knowsley Safari Park, rest assured there’s plenty to do in nearby Liverpool. There are endless restaurants, shops, bars, galleries, museums and attractions, from the Beatles Story and the Magical Mystery Tour to the Merseyside Maritime Museum and the waterfront, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The park is just off the A58, which you can get to from junction 52 of the M57 or junction 24 of the M6 southbound. And don’t worry if you can’t drive – on some days there is a bus from the city centre, called the Safari Xpress (number 530), which not only takes you to the park but all around it. There is also a Baboon Bus on some days which takes you round the park, including the baboon enclosure. For little ones and train enthusiasts, there’s also a 15-inch-gauge railway which runs round part of the site.
Many of the species at Knowsley are part of breeding programmes aimed at preserving endangered creatures, and the zoo supports conservation projects in the UK and abroad, working with universities, researchers, other zoos and non-governmental organisations. Its research and conservation work has involved species from African wild dogs and lemurs to rhinos and honey bees, which face enormous threats these days.
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