top of page

Be inspired

West Midland Safari Park looks back on 50 wild years

West Midland Safari Park turns 50 years old today and to mark the monumental occasion, they are celebrating with the animals that call the Park home.

West Midland Safari Park

For half a century, the Park has welcomed over 30 million visitors, bringing them closer to nature and inspiring the next generation of conservationists.

The Park first opened its doors on 17 April 1973 and since then, hundreds of species, many of which are classed as ‘endangered,’ have lived there, including elephants, rhinos, lions, tigers and giraffes.

Head of Wildlife, Angela Potter, has been at the Park for 43 years, making her the longest serving member of staff.

She said, “We are very excited that 2023 is our 50th anniversary and who better to join in the celebrations than all of our lovely animals. Throughout this special year, we will be providing them with animal-friendly cakes, presents and lots of enrichment to ensure we are celebrating our wildlife too.”

Many of the animals who live at the Park today were born there and are part of breeding groups for endangered species. This includes ring-tailed lemur Bakari, who turns ten on the same day the Park turns 50.

To celebrate, keepers treated Bakari and his troop to some birthday presents, which the lemurs loved unwrapping and investigating.

Meanwhile, over on the safari, the Indian rhinos have been treated to a huge birthday cake, covered in their favourite tasty treats. The Indian rhinos first came to the Park in 2010 and are another conservation success story, with the first calf, Inesh, born in 2020. Inesh will soon be moving to another wildlife collection, to hopefully start a family of his own.

Angela continued, “It is more than a job - it’s a way of life, with no two days being the same and always wanting to come to work whether the sun is shining, raining, or even snowing! It is great to be able to raise awareness of the plight of the animals in the wild and make a difference by educating our visitors to care about them and our environment, as much as we all do here. To come to work each day and see animals such as rhinos, giraffe, lions and penguins is just amazing! Who wouldn’t want to do it?!”

The Bewdley attraction has an exciting history, from the moment it was officially opened, by famous Hollywood actress Sophia Loren, to a troop of 130 baboons escaping to spend the night in the local town all in the first two years of opening (all 130 were returned, not to the amusement of the neighbours!).

Managing Director, Chris Kelly, joined the Park in 2020, but as a local lad, he has been visiting for over 40 years. He has some fond memories of when he used to visit in the early days. He said, “When the Park first opened, records noted a total of 447 animals, including a turkey, fourteen fish tanks and a guard dog!

Thankfully, 50 years on, our current residents are a lot more exciting and we are proud that we house over 120 species, with more than 1,000 individual animals. “I’ve seen many changes since being a guest, but none more so than the three years I’ve been MD. We’ve upgraded many of the animal habitats and facilities, donated thousands to conservation charities, welcomed new species such as red pandas and we’ve introduced onsite accommodation, so guests can stay with us overnight for the first time in our history.”

He continued, “We have more exciting future developments planned and I truly believe that the work we are doing now is building a legacy for our incredible animals, especially for those at threat in the wild. It wouldn’t be possible without the continuous support from our guests, so I would like to thank everyone who has visited us over the last 50 years. Here’s to the next 50!”

As well as the animals, the Park is including guests in the celebrations with a whole host of events, giveaways and offers.

Later in the year, the Park will be hosting a conservation dinner with award winning TV presenter Michaela Strachan, to raise money for their five conservation partners.

Further information about West Midland Safari Park is available from the Park’s website or by telephone 01299 402114.

Find out more on the Safari Park’s official Facebook page:

bottom of page