In our little family, we have a tradition now of spending first birthdays at a zoo. For G’s first birthday, we drove over to the Edinburgh zoo (where she promptly managed to come down with her first cold halfway through and then fall asleep, missing the pandas and the monkeys.) So for T’s first birthday, we opted to try out Blair Drummond Safari Park, which is less than an hour’s drive away in Stirling.
The park is the second oldest safari park in Britain, and was started on the Blair Drummond Estate in 1970. The massive house on the estate is currently used by a charity that cares for people with special needs, but it dates from 1923 (the previous house was destroyed in a fire). It is exactly what it states it is: a safari! We hopped in the car and drove around the the elephant enclosure, which is home to a single elephant who has outlived all of her companions. The park takes in elderly elephants and they’re on a lookout for a friend for her. Then we drove through the African Reserve, and giggled as a rhino got dangerously close to the car in front of us. The monkey enclosure was rather quiet as it was raining, and apparently they’re not too thrilled with rain. The lions, on the other hand, didn’t see too bothered by the rain, and instead were running around, fighting over some massively meaty bones.
There is also a portion for giraffes and zebras, and the final section of the safari drive is reserved for deer. The park is home to several varieties of deer, including the extinct in the wild, Pére David’s deer which were quite magnificent.
In addition to the wild animals, the park is also home to some domesticated animals, like geese, chickens, turkeys, rabbits, New Zealand pigs, llamas… The list goes on, but I’ll stop there. T adored the pony and I think I could have stayed there all day as he chattered away to it. I also swear I saw a peacock, just wandering the grounds.
The animals were such fun to watch, but equally fun was this EPIC playground. I realize the sign recommends children 8+, but good luck keeping my 2.5 year old away from rope ladder. She climbed up it several times and would go up to the top and walk/crawl across the bridge. I only sent Aaron up a couple of times to find her and bring her back down to play with age appropriate toys, but it never really worked.
Of course, there are also penguins, tigers, a sea lion, lemurs, meerkats and more to spot. There are also food stands, and picnic areas for a bite to eat. I highly recommend the donut and coffee stand for hot, fresh, sugary donuts. Barbecues are also available near some sheltered tables if you’d like to cook a proper hot meal.
The park has successfully breed many less common animals, including lions, rhinos, giraffes, along with more common animals like llamas, camels, and chimps. The staff are knowledgeable and the park oversees many volunteers who also help with the education and maintenance of the animals.
Sadly, we had two rather weary children so we missed out on the birds of prey exhibit and chimp island. We’ll just have to go back. Such a fun way to experience animals, and a they are supporting a great cause in the realm of animal education so it’s a win-win!