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Great Days Out in the Midlands: West Midlands Safari Park

Updated on April 11, 2012

West Midlands Safari Park

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Spur of the Moment

From the thrills and spills of roller coasters at Alton Towers to thrills and spills of a different kind, namely living ones, and trust me these are more than enough to match any high speed roller coaster. West Midlands Safari Park is nestled in the lovely rolling countryside that borders the West Midlands and Worcestershire, roughly five miles west of Kidderminster. My last trip there was just over a year ago, so my memories of that wonderful place are still relatively fresh.

The trip wasn’t really planned, more of a case of sitting at home on a Sunday morning, and thinking ‘what to do for the rest of the day?’ All of a sudden, the gears in my head churned into life and spewed out an idea. Within minutes, I was on Google Maps formulating a route to the Safari Park. The auto generated route instructed me to travel into the centre of Birmingham, get onto the Hagley Road and sit on it until I reach Kidderminster. But, if there’s one thing that I’m confident of, and that’s my ability to plan a route, and so on this occasion I disagreed with Google, in spite of the fact that it was the most direct and logical choice. I knew that a venture into Birmingham City Centre would spell instant gridlock and potential frustration and anger. So I planned a route that would skirt both Birmingham and Kidderminster, and bring me safely to the park.

Location of West Midlands Safari Park

Getting In

The route worked perfectly, and I arrived at the park after a pleasant drive through some of the most beautiful villages in the whole county. Turning into the long driveway, you’re greeted by an archway with the name of the place inscribed in brash, bold letters with a particularly menacing looking Rhino’s head next to it. As I drove through, I couldn’t resist saying ‘What have they got in there, King Kong?’ similar to what Ian Malcolm said in Jurassic Park. The admission fee is pretty reasonable compared to Alton Towers, a measly £13 or $20, plus they give you a ticket that guarantees a free return trip, provided you fill out the details on the back. You can buy food for the animals, but that does cost a little bit extra.

For anyone, who has ever been on a safari, or to a safari park you’ll already know that the majority of your time will be spent driving very slowly and often waiting for others to finish photographing the animal, before you can proceed any further. But these are minor complaints, when you bear in mind the sort of creatures that grab everybody’s attention. Virtually every creature was a highlight for me, and to describe them all would eat too much space, so I shall instead concentrate on those encounters that moved or disturbed me in some way.

A Few Images From My Trip

These are Ankole cattle from North Africa, the biggest cattle I've ever seen.
These are Ankole cattle from North Africa, the biggest cattle I've ever seen. | Source
A white rhino being moved on by one of the rangers.
A white rhino being moved on by one of the rangers. | Source
I had to wait several minutes for this reindeer to move. Fascinating to see them this close.
I had to wait several minutes for this reindeer to move. Fascinating to see them this close. | Source

White Lions and Tigers

A White Tiger
A White Tiger | Source
The White Lion pride.
The White Lion pride. | Source

Close Encounters

The first was catching sight of the wolves; it seemed so strange to be looking at creatures that were technically the same species as my dog, but the thrill of seeing them wasn't lessened by it, in fact it was heightened by another thought that crossed my mind, ‘This is what my dog should look like.’ I took several moments to observe their behaviour and mentally ticked off all those that were recognisble, from scratching their ears, to rolling around on their back. Just as I drove off, I noticed one of them proceed to bite at the fifth digit on its paw, in the same way that my own dog does, I couldn’t help but chuckle.

A safari park wouldn’t be complete without lions, and West Midlands doesn’t disappoint in that department. In fact, it has two separate prides, the first one I saw were the familiar tawny brown lions that I’d seen multiple times on the TV. The others however, were extraordinary through the fact that they were all white. Before the trip, I’d never seen a real lion of any kind, now I’d seen white lions, as well as the conventional ones, fantastic. Understandably the lions weren’t particularly active, most were asleep; I couldn’t help but think how boring life must be for them in this park. The same thought crossed my mind, when I encountered the tigers, a Bengal tiger and a White tiger (in separate enclosures of course). I remember, while viewing the Bengal, who lay fast asleep on top of a raised platform, an excited arm suddenly shot out of the car in front, pointing at the slumbering big cat, next came a head of an Indian boy, only to be hurriedly dragged back in by his mother. For a moment, I imagined myself as that Indian boy’s parents, and that I had grown up back in the homeland and seen tigers in the wild, up close.

All of nature’s greatest characters were there, African elephants, hippos, rhinos (White and Indian rhino), African hunting dog, Amur leopard, wildebeest, Cape buffalo, ostrich, various kinds of deer, camel and other ungulates, including a couple of zebra and the tallest animal on the planet, the giraffe. But there was one encounter that I shall never forget, it was an encounter that both moved and disturbed me at the same. After the delight of viewing the lions, I experienced another first by laying eyes on the cheetah. Unlike their social relatives, the six or so cheetahs were kept in a relatively small cage, and inevitably one of them began to pace up and down, helplessly seeking a way out. I caught a look on his face, and thought that I detected sadness. It disturbed me to think of the fastest thing on four legs had been reduced to existing in a cage about a quarter of the size of a football field.

All in all, the actual safari takes more than an hour to complete. After which you have the option to park up and explore the rest of the complex, which is more or less a theme park but geared more towards children, or you can simply wave goodbye and drive out. I only had to take one look at the car park to make my decision; I followed the exit signs and journeyed on home.

More Images

African Elephants
African Elephants | Source
This Cheetah was more restless than the others. Such a shame to see them behind bars.
This Cheetah was more restless than the others. Such a shame to see them behind bars. | Source

Conclusion

West Midlands Safari Park is a fun day out that will gives you experiences and memories that will rival anything that Alton Towers can offer. The sheer thrill of seeing such charismatic creatures helps to make up for the frustration of queuing and willing others to stop taking photos and move on. It’s relatively cheap, and if the kids haven’t been entertained enough by the animals, then the theme park will certainly remedy that problem. There are though, a couple of important things to remember, whenever you pass through an enclosure containing carnivores, keep all of your windows shut. You just never know! Also, do not feed the camels, they may look friendly and inviting, but they do bite, so don’t risk it. Also if you want the free return trip, make sure you fill out the back of the ticket and hand it to the cashier on your next visit.

More to follow...

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    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 5 years ago from The English Midlands

      I really must go there! It's really close and I drove past it just the other day, but I am sorry to say that I have never been inside. Perhaps I'm a bit too scared :)

    • UnnamedHarald profile image

      David Hunt 5 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

      Wow, jkenny. I believe I went there nearly 40 years ago-- through B'ham, check, Hagley Road, check. Kidderminster, check-- I think. Didn't remember the name but, well that could be me. Great pictures and nice write up. Took me back. Voted up and beautiful.

    • JKenny profile image
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      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Hey Harald, thanks for dropping by. I read on your profile that you're originally from Birmingham, which part did you come from? I live on the border between Birmingham and Solihull, little place called Sheldon- have you heard of it?

    • JKenny profile image
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      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Hi Trish, it's well worth a visit. The first time I went was when I was a kid, and they used to have monkeys running around freely. They'd jump on your car and grab hold of anything they could. Once, they managed to steal my nan's aerial. The monkeys had to be moved on, because of the amount of people that tried to sue the park.

    • christopheranton profile image

      Christopher Antony Meade 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

      Don't think that the lions are bored because they are asleep. In the wild lions sleep for around twenty hours a day. It's a "cat thing".

      This is another piece of useless info for you. Cheetahs are the only cats apart from domestic cats that purr. I would be a bit wary of stroking one however.

    • UnnamedHarald profile image

      David Hunt 5 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

      I was born in Hall Green, just down the road, though I'm unfamiliar with Sheldon. I also stayed in Olton when I went back. Small world.

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Oh yeah, I'd forgotten about that. I think seeing them in an enclosed space gave me the illusion of boredom. Great factoid about cheetahs, they're also the only cat whose claws don't fully retract.

    • JKenny profile image
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      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Ah! Hall Green, I know it fairly well. But I know Olton really well, as I used to go to school there, and used to go to the Olton Friary when I was a kid. Sheldon isn't too far from Olton, maybe a couple of miles away, quite near the airport. Small world indeed.

    • Mazzy Bolero profile image

      Mazzy Bolero 5 years ago from the U.K.

      I don't live close to Kidderminster but if I'm in that area I'll definitely go to the safari park after reading your hub. I seem to have a problem seeing the white rhino picture, but I don't know if the problem is with the picture or with my computer. I can see the others OK.

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Hi Mazzy, yep its definitely worth a visit. I actually had problems uploading the pictures last night. But the white rhino picture comes up as normal on my computer, it may be a problem with your computer, that sounds really weird.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Hey JK enjoyed this trip with you thru the Safari Park. That albino lion pride is something else. First time seeing those massive horned African cattle too, whew, can you imagine getting chased by one of those suckers! Yep, really fine and JK my State has the biggest Natural Habitat zoo in the world; just wish they'd have a place for the gorillas to have some privacy from all the staring, its really sad when they have their back toward you and then turn their head around as if to say, please give me some privacy. I think they are a lot closer to use in their emotions and feelings than some would like to admit.

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Hi Alaster, nice to hear from you. I remember having a similar experience with the orangutan's at a place called Twycross zoo not too far from me. Apparently this zoo is the only one in the world that contains all of our closest relatives: gorillas, orangutans, chimps and bonobos. Anyway, this big male orangutan was being gawped at by loads of kids, and he tried to tuck himself in the corner, facing away from everyone. For a moment he turned round and stared at me, the expression on his face told me everything I needed to know, he was afraid. You're right, I think people forget how close to us the great apes really are.

    • profile image

      AudraLeigh 4 years ago

      Hi James! I like your piece here! Your unplanned trip inspired you to write a cool hub! My favorite pic was the one with the white rhino being guidd by the ranger's car...really cool! The African cattle were huge!!! Thanks for sharing your adventure with us!

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 4 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Hi Audra, I often find that the spontaneous, unplanned trips are the best, somehow I end up enjoying them more. I liked that photo too. The best part of the trip though was when some kid decided he wanted to feed the camels. The camel ambling over eagerly; in a split second a ranger's voice said: 'Please do not feed the camels, they do bite.' The kid nearly p***** himself with fear, it was so funny. The camel just walked away as if nothing had happened.

    • profile image

      AudraLeigh 4 years ago

      LOL...he peed himself...OM!

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 4 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Well, I don't know if he actually did. But from the look on his face I wouldn't be surprised if he did lol!

    • profile image

      AudraLeigh 4 years ago

      Giggle...Priceless!

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