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Take the Family › On Safari in Hertfordshire

On Safari in Hertfordshire

By TakeTheFamily
Feeding the penguins at Wobrun Safari Park © VisitBritainFeeding the penguins at Wobrun Safari Park © VisitBritain

Who needs to go on safari? There’s lots of controversy over taking kids to malarial zones. So this week we had our encounters with lions, tigers and lemurs in deepest Hertfordshire, at Paradise Wildlife Park, which specialises in allowing you get as close as you safely can to a wild beast.

The first cage we walked into was awash with offspring. I’ve always thought my family was large, but not as large as Edwina and Ringo’s. They’ve got nine kids, and I can’t tell the difference between them although their keeper Steve, who was also in the compound with us, could. They’re all lemurs, with long ringed tails and big orange eyes. And, like very good children and unlike my own, they just eat loads of fruit, especially apples. I know, because that’s what we fed them at Paradise Park, sitting next to them on tree trunk seats as if invited for tea. My nine year old decided to have a staring competition with Ringo. He didn’t win. Lemurs don’t blink.

We also didn’t have a tiger for tea, but did have tea with a white tiger called Narnia, feeding her meat from our fingers. We held a Burmese python called Colonel Custard whose diet was one rat a week. We stroked a bearded dragon and baby meerkats. The meerkats’ status on the animal kingdom has been considerably enhanced amongst kids by their in appearance in a TV ad for car insurance. I’m not sure that’s what the advertising executives intended.

Like all south of England families, we’ve also been to Woburn Safari Park and stared at animals through our car windscreen. Ironically, that’s far closer to the African safari experience than Paradise Park. If you drive in a jeep through the bush, you need a good pair of binoculars to spot a lion. And feeding one is not an option, at least not an advisable one for the kids.

So if your kids want to stroke a lion’s mane, don’t take them to South Africa. Go to the South of England. Family travel is becoming more and more about the experience rather than the place. Now, we can do most things, almost anywhere.

A package including a one night stay in a family room at the five star Marriott Hanbury Manor Hotel & Country Club and a family entrance ticket go Paradise Wildlife Park costs from £218 per family of four at weekends in August and September and is bookable through Superbreak. Animal encounters bookable extras. Woburn Safari Park

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